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Friday, 3 April 2020

Hon. Bernie Ripoll
Director, SAS Group

It is an understatement for sure to say that the world will never be the same again. Like many others we thought 2020 would be different.

The lowest interest rates in history, low and slow growth globally, markets and debt at record highs, property values up and the list goes on, with the US and China in a trade war. The old world-order disintermediating as globalisation reaches its peak and usefulness - 2020 was always going to be a cracker.

The big red button has been pushed hard - but not how we expected.

All the rhetoric around disruption and uncertainty didn’t consider a global pandemic and an unprecedented global response. COVID-19 changes everything forever. The old rules no longer apply. The earth has cracked wide open. Our personal choices, even in a democracy, now limited. We can no longer rely on business-as-usual, custom and practice or cultural norms as a ground on which to stand.

Platforms, technology and innovative ways of doing things in the pipeline for future deployment are now being fast tracked in weeks instead of years. Tele-health as an example was always going to be the way of future health delivery but probably in a decade or more. People don’t like change for themselves or their systems; plenty of time for that later anyway, maybe tomorrow. Education, financial services, real estate, the trades and services can never be the same again. Even the way we work and communicate as groups has changed forever.

At the SAS Group we have been contacting our clients and having discussion with them about what this change means for their business and their clients. There is no doubt that the ability to survive in these challenging times is front of mind for all. SAS Director Bernie Ripoll has taken these conversations on board and ascribed them to four attributes for surviving and thriving in a post COVID-19 world.

Gravitas, Authenticity, Resilience, and Delivery; combined they are G.A.R.D.

Gravitas is often used in reference to people in positions of authority, at whatever level that may be. You know when you see it, you can feel it, people with presence. They understand their part in the world and have something meaningful to say. They treat others with respect and earn respect in return. Of itself gravitas is not a determinant of success; many can command a room but fail to inspire others to take a vision forward or deliver an outcome. Ask any politician and they will tell you the “alchemy of success” requires many things, even timing and luck.

Authenticity is what great leaders and good people exude. Authenticity doesn’t discriminate about who can draw on its visceral power. It can’t be scripted; you can’t fake it; we understand it when we see and hear it. The authentic leader draws people to their cause by blending people skills with clarity and purpose; creating trust by giving others opportunity through inclusion. Authentic leaders are never “about themselves” nor are they the self-declared “smartest person in the room”. You know them, so smart they don’t see the room being changed around them and the people filing out. Understand yourself and be authentic - its priceless.

Resilience may be a cliché in this historic moment, but it is important. That ability to change, adapt and not give up when the going gets tough. Even more poignant today is refining your purpose, understanding where your skills and capabilities can add the most value. Without the safety net of the business-as-usual environment ask yourself if the work you do really adds that value. Resilience is not about being tough; it’s about understanding your fears and shortcomings; it’s about stepping up; risking rejection; it’s about making considered decisions, even if that means dog paddling out through the breakers.

And finally, Delivery. Without delivery the other attributes are just stranded character traits. We all have great ideas, great potential and great opportunity but only a few make the effort or take the risk on delivering. Someone who gets on with things and understands what needs to be done is the glue that cements the opportunities we are presented every day. Delivery is not about mindless slavery to a task list but understanding priorities and executing. You know that joke about “when you need something done urgently give it to a busy person”.

Maybe the combination of these four attributes, when pursued for good, can create the platform for everyday success even in our current circumstances. Amongst the doom and gloom and these truly terrible days, those with the luxury of extra time and clearer skies can consider a better place for themselves and those around them. Being on G.A.R.D. can be part of your tool kit to survive and thrive in a post COVID-19 world.

The SAS Group is your trusted partner for government, media and corporate engagement.

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