As a Member of Parliament for 18 years, holding various posts including Minister for Transport, Europe, and Overseas Development, Baroness Chalker has spent a large part of her working life making difficult decisions in the face of complex situations.
Sitting in the House of Lords since 1992, as well as holding several leadership roles in the private sector, she spoke to us from South Africa and gave her take on what business leaders can do for themselves, their businesses, and for each other.
In the space of a few weeks, businesses have had to contend with fundamental changes to how they operate, leaving many overwhelmed by new legislation and unsure about the many options available for support.
“The thing is to take it calmly, slowly and be very thorough when looking at the various forms of help being afforded by the government. It’s not entirely simple because, as it is taxpayer money, the government must have safeguards.”
Focusing on a clear objective can help to understand what would work best, and most suitable for your business.
“The most important thing to do is to safeguard your staff, your business inheritance, and what you want to do when things return to normal, or semi-normal, whatever that may be.”
Methodical thinking, routine and structure will not only help to keep track of the current state of the business but will also help in the new and often challenging requirements of working in isolation.
Of course, as Baroness Chalker is keen to point out, this rigid structure is not at the expense of a more human side of leadership, and communication between management and staff should always be flexible and friendly. “The sending of cheerful but respectful messages is quite important to the psyche of the staff.”