One often hears the phrase “technology is your friend”.

To what extent the friendliness/support is, depends on how you embrace it.

It can be the most effective “companion” to assist you to cope with your daily activities or business plans.

Read more via Get more organised digitally!

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Get more organised digitally!

One often hears the phrase “technology is your friend” To what extent the friendliness/support is, in being a most effective “companion” to assist you to cope with your daily activities or business plans depends on how you embrace it.

Life can be chaotic. Which so much to do it is easy to frequently miss appointments; have to wait till you get to a PC to respond to emails or fail to remember contacts details. The worst is having to ask people often for their contact details/ business cards.

If that’s the case, you are getting it all wrong and definitely need this friend!

Electronic mail has not entirely replaced postal services; however, in the coming years, all indications are that it will.

The need for emails

Emails are on a progressive, disruptive path to eliminate postal services. It will, over and above its current instant delivery capability, also facilitate and encourage the acceptance of digitally signed documents.

A digital signature is an electronic, encrypted, stamp of authentication on online information such as e-mail messages, macros, or electronic documents. It confirms that the information originated from the signer and has not been altered, rendering it legally binding.

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Most financial companies and legal institutions in most developed countries already accept digitally signed documents.

Naturally, you need special software to digitally sign a document to attach as a PDF to an email. Such an action authorises approval by yourself without having to pick up a pen to append a signature or having to be physically present.

We can now easily get in touch with our contacts: be it in the office or lounging around a park, watching your children play; even on board/at the underground train station.

The additional tools

Calendar and contacts syncing is a simple tool which is not offered entirely by all domain host providers. It works wonders along with your calendar and scheduler.

For those needing an essential CRM tool to just help with email contacts and plug into an existing sales app, you can do so with a useful add-on like Outlook Customer Manager.

There are indeed other advantages to assist with decluttering emails. To  alleviate the frustration of unimportant mails getting in the way of the ones you need to access frequently, a clutter service offered by Office 365.

Additionally, to avoid retaining important attachments, and clogging up space on your mailbox, you can with a click, save large file attachments to your cloud storage.

With all that relevance of emails, it is critical that you source the best one – even if it costs a bit more than the (free) webmail services provided by Outlook (Hotmail), Gmail and Yahoo.

Naturally, with a paid service, you should be almost freed from the scourge of spam and malicious items like phishing and viruses embedded in documents. In some cases, they are screened even before landing in your mailbox.

Other perks like a ‘catch-all service’, data loss prevention, in place-hold (both compliance features) and advanced threat protection can be added to these essential services for a more peaceful emailing experience.

You can, for instance, use In-Place Hold (also known as Litigation Hold) to place user mailboxes ‘on hold’ and preserve mailbox items permanently.

This feature is especially crucial for those in the financial and legal sectors – requiring emails and its contents to be preserved for a minimum of 7 years typically.

Security is the central factor that has kept the postal service in business. Well at least for now.

Here is a checklist when shopping around for a good email solution:

• A decent sized mailbox – with archiving ability – 50GB is the new standard size (don’t get short-changed!).

• Should sync emails, calendar and contacts onto multiple devices – and it must always work!

SMTP is now the standard and preferred Email Protocol so if you are still on POP3 or even IMAP – run away!

• Customizable domain (a .com or .net or any other you have bought), with the option to add more domains plus few email aliases. (info@ …sales@ etc).

• Sync to an active directory – to keep user profiles and allow for ease of single sign-on or extra security features like two-factor authentication (This prevents unauthorised people from accessing your emails by pairing to your phone via an SMS code).

• The mailbox (since you are storing contact details or using it along with a CRM or ERP solution) should be GDPR-compatible.

• Finally, it should provide the ability to add features in future, like extra archiving space, advanced threat protection and enterprise voicemail (phone to email) capability. These are signs of a good email solution/offer.

Preparing yourself to use the solution can be free if you have the time. Most software suppliers like Microsoft (via Office 365) for example, have support sites with primary training material and “how-tos” on their websites.

Check out the Microsoft Support page to upskill your Office, email and overall cloud-software aptitude.

Accountable Supervision

Leadership values are not only confined to the running of a political campaign, party or country for that matter, however, like in any venture that has an objective and deals with human beings – it forms the backbone of a successful any business.

Consequently, what leaders such as CEO of Tesla Elon Musk, for example, say or does, have a positive or, in the recent unfortunate case, a negative impact on the shareholdings of his business.

The share price can decline sharply and worse yet, it can lead to the exit of senior staff members and thus undermining the business, its leadership values and objectives.

This why it is critical for companies to adopt the right practices and responsible leadership to enable them to address both internal and external issues affecting them.

This is even most relevant when dealing with a company that has a multinational operational facet such as the Murray and Roberts Group – a South African company that operates in a global setting.

This specific multinational company was used in a case study for a research paper because it is firmly entrenched in the construction and engineering industry.

More specifically, they service the global natural resources market sectors of underground mining; Oil & Gas; Power & Energy.

Such a diverse set of operations requires a varied set of objectives spearheaded by a solid leadership path.

New model of leadership

We have covered the topic of Emotional Intelligence before. It now surfaces again within a brand-new leadership model known as the ARCHES model.

The name derives from a key characteristic of the physical structure of an arch and its durability. Coupled with its diversity in models and materials and its depiction as symbols of triumph, it represents an apt analogy of what responsible and effective leadership should be.

The model was especially derived by an academic* for a syndicate group assignment and is based on six key characteristics that should be imparted in a leader.

An effective and responsible leader is one who is attuned to their followers, responsive, possesses the necessary competencies, serves with humility, is ethical and adopts a sustainable approach to leadership.

A leader who possesses all these attributes is one who can rise above adversity and lead their followers in a way that promotes innovation, motivates, develops skills, promotes personal growth and encourages improved performance – B.Moyo

Application of the model

The model defines attuned leadership as the act of being self-aware, informed and  aware of the environment in which you exist – servant leadership.

Employees should be encouraged to take responsibility for their actions because responsibility and effectiveness are complimentary. The demise of US energy company Enron, for example, was due to a failure of management to execute communication-based responsibility, internally and externally.

ARCHES

A volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment in which a business operates can result in many potential projects not coming to fruition.

In such an environment, leaders that are attuned, responsive and possess the right competencies can expert power as their way to influence followers to exhibit the same traits.

Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like them. Expert power on the other hand, is a person’s ability to influence others’ behaviour because of recognized knowledge, skills, or abilities.

This requires the leader to have a tolerable level of humility. This is defined as a personal quality reflecting the willingness to understand the self (identities, strengths, and limitations). That combined with a purpose in the self’s relationship with others.

Once again, the emphasis on Emotional Intelligence coupled with traditional leadership competencies is needed to steer multifaceted companies.

Even more so when dealing with diverse cultures and work ethics across borders and continents.

Direct consequences

Being the largest employer in the locality directly implied that Murray and Roberts had to be consistent with the idiomatic Zulu expression of “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”. This means: I am because you are, you are because we are.

Good leadership in the Ubuntu philosophy is based on the engagement with communities and defines a well-led organization.

Not paying attention to ethical issues surrounding a community or the environment can have an adverse effect on your values. This would also affect your staff and the image of the company you steer.

A bitter consequence of the failure of ethics was evident in the $4.2m (64.1 million ZAR) fine to the said company. This was for its involvement in sector collusion related to construction projects for the 2010 World Cup.

Finally, a practical leader will also consider any upcoming projects with the lens of understanding the environment that surrounds them to incorporate the concept of sustainability.

These traits might sound like they need to be learned but most should be already ingrained or come naturally to you or your leaders.

If not this is not the case, you need to quickly install the right personnel with such to help steer your business enterprise or economy for that matter, to success.
*This blog post contains excerpts and is derived from a master’s research paper. It was conducted by Bonnie Moyo for the Rhodes University Business School.