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First National Bank: Leadership in Africa Report


Preamble

The research paper aims to add information on the use and implementation of leadership programs in a South African context. The research also details the challenges brought about by inspirational leadership in Africa. The researcher uses the First National Bank (FNB) as a case study in this context. There is no thesis statement for this research paper. The choice of the bank was made based on the impact that the bank has on leadership and transformation. The reasons given for the choice of the institution might be genuine, but they come out as promotional because they are all advantageous. The report does not appear to have any valid thesis statement or it might be too weak to be of any significance. However, the researcher gives five distinct research questions. It suffices to mention that the researcher used the case study research method due to several reasons that are fully explained in the report provided. It is wholly agreeable that the method was the best suited for analyzing the management issues under observation. This essay examines the research presented. The article is divided into two main sections. The first section focuses on the evaluation of the research as it is. The section will show the strengths and weaknesses of the research and conclude on whether the research was significant or not. Moreover, some of the things that could have been done to make it better will also be presented. The second main section of the essay will focus on the organizational challenges faced by the First National Bank about globalization. The challenges presented will be futuristic. It means that the challenges are difficulties that are foreseen to cripple the institution in the next five years due to globalization.

Evaluation of Research

As mentioned previously, some outstanding things pop out in the provided report. This section analyses several aspects of the report based on academic qualifications and expectations. The research that was conducted was very comprehensive, which makes it easier to understand and believe. Five research questions are analyzed throughout the research study.

The first question is quoted directly as: “Issues around spirit and soul in leadership are often seen as ‘touchy-feely stuff’ and related to religion. But spirit and soul are influencing private, but also the workplace, conduct, the quality of workplace relationships, and everybody is looking for a meaning in life and work. How is this contradiction solved in business?” The researcher has provided a bit of information on how the soul and business-related. However, it suffices to mention that the link is fragile. The researcher provides scholarly evidence to support the idea that understanding the human soul is essential to being successful in business. For instance, she explains that the soul is important in business because it denotes restlessness. Gokce, Guney, and Katrinli (2014) argue that anxiety can be both a good and a bad thing. He explains that restlessness is only good if it is accompanied by the anticipation of a product or service. However, it turns sour if it is violent and impatient due to a problem with the product. Hargarter (2005) explains that culture has a big role to play when discussing the soul and business.

Brown and Ainley (2009), who argue that both individual culture and national culture are important in business, echo the same sentiments. However, the scholars take up the idea of culture and business as explained by Hawley. She asserts that the global culture has allowed people to be more aggressive in business than they have ever been. It is interesting to note that Hargarter (2005) does not give specific links between culture, soul, and business. The culture bit is only mentioned as a ‘by the way’. This leaves the reader questioning the importance of culture in the discussion. A deeper look into the second research question asks whether “Business seems to incorporate two sides of the story: Content (‘body’) and People Management (‘soul’). Why do different companies have different priorities; that is, either on vision or performance when implementing leadership programs? It seems that the focus is not constant; instead, it varies with gender and with the industry, sector, and the country. Is the predominant culture and the life-cycle of the company has been elaborated clearly? The researcher gives ample evidence on how the soul, described as people management, affects business. Additionally, the research question introduces a new concept into the study; the issue if priorities. Hsing-Chau, Thai-Form, and Feng-I (2005) argue that getting priorities right is essential for a successful business. At times, two highly demanding tasks are given and individuals have to choose which one they should do first and which ones should come last.

The other three research questions have also been adequately explained. A general overview of the issues, however, shows that the researcher does not justify the question picked. Whereas this does not limit or create loopholes in the research study and the report, Terblanche and Grobler (2001) advise the justifications of the research questions to fully qualify the importance of the research.

It suffices to mention that the research study provided revolves around three aspects. The first issue touches on research on leadership. The literature review section gives ample information on leadership. Hargarter (2005) observes that many foreigners get a bit confused with the leadership structure supported by African organizations. She ties this argument nicely with culture, thereby showing how different cultures understand leadership. Zydziunaite and Suominen (2014) and Holmberg and Lazarczyk (2015) reveal that intercultural communication is crucial in business. This type of communication allows people, foreigners to be distinct, to understand and live comfortably in different cultures. In business, intercultural relations are important because they affect profits negatively or positively. Borrowing from the current affairs in South Africa, the issue of xenophobia shows a significant impact of foreign culture on a country. All this is brought out in the research study report. The First National Bank appears to have an advanced type of leadership, which incorporates all types of cultures. This mix is an advantage because it allows people who have worked in other countries and gained extensive experience in a given field to feel comfortable working for the bank. A disadvantage of the same is the negative perception of the public that the bank does value pure African leadership.

The second issue highlighted is organizational transformation. Again, culture has been used to discuss the aspect of the corporate transformation in a company. The researcher explains that culture is crucial to incorporate transformation, as the organization has to be collective. The firm has to be collective in the sense that the corporate culture has to be embraced by all the employees, even if it is not their persona culture. Lam and Choi (2013) emphasize the importance of having a healthy organizational culture by stating that corporate culture determines performance levels. People, who work together harmoniously, believe in their work and others in the company tend to be more productive than those who do not (Gilson et al. 2014). Also, Hargarter (2005) adds that the culture needs to be transformed to keep current.

The main problem with African leadership, according to the research, is that it does not keep up with the current affairs. For instance, technology can, and should, be incorporated in leadership, regardless of whether it is African leadership or not. New performance management techniques can also be applied in all types of leadership to achieve the best results. It would appear that the First National Bank has used some of these strategies, making it very successful. As mentioned, the FNB has changed the leadership culture in South Africa. Having said this, it is important to note that the bank has adopted a flexible organizational culture. This type of culture has both advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is the increased performance levels in the employees, which is brought about by the wellbeing of the employees. Employees who are satisfied enjoy their work. The biggest disadvantage of a flexible organizational culture is constant change. The change can be necessary during the retirement or ouster of a leader in the organization. In turn, it can lead to a lot of confusion.

Lastly, the issue of emotional intelligence has also been substantially discussed. More could have, however, been said on the topic. The researcher takes time before engaging in this part. The data provided states that FNB tried to improve customer service by doing things that the customers liked. Dunn and Lewis (2011) assert that emotional intelligence in an employee is valuable, especially if the institution in question works with customers regularly. It would, therefore, make sense for a bank to invest heavily in customer satisfaction. Temple (2012) explains that dealing with customers might not be easy, and only people with a high control of their emotions can be good for this type of work. The main advantage of monitoring emotional intelligence in the bank is that it allows the monitoring of customers, as well. For example, if the customer service providers are angry, then the customers will also get angry and, probably, complain. It suffices to mention that monitoring emotional intelligence among employees is the easiest way of knowing why a company is losing customers. On the other hand, the biggest disadvantage of using this aspect in the management of the bank is it tends to assume that only the employees hold the key to the success of the organization.

Organizational Challenges Faced by FNB in the Next Five Years

This is the second section of the essay, which will discuss the possible challenges that FNB might face in the next five years as the first thing. The section will also have a detailed discussion based on theoretical concepts on strategic recommendations that can be taken in the next phase of development for the bank.

Possible organizational challenges

One of the eminent corporate challenges the bank might face in the next five years is the challenge of integration of different cultures into one organizational culture. As mentioned, organizational culture plays a significant role in the success of a company. Botha (2012) argues that the feeling of being one allows the employees to stop senseless competition amongst themselves and work to benefit the whole organization. The workers tend to not only compete against one another negatively, but they also tend to be easily distracted by other things if there is one culture. Patterson and Edwards (2013) explain that the employees will feel dissatisfied due to the high competition, especially when their work is not appreciated as much as that of other employees. They will be less loyal to the organization and employee turnover will be very high. In addition to this, Manyibe, Manyibe, and Otiso (2013) assert that, indeed, a confusing organizational culture touches on all aspects of the organization and affects profitability in return. It affects leadership because it enhances bias and neglect. Also, uncoordinated organizations affect customer service, as people are confused to help even their clients. There will be no systematic workflow or chain of command, such that no one knows who to talk to if there is a problem. Even though the FNB bank is trying to incorporate one culture, it has first to understand the cultures of the employees. The case study provided shows that the bank has hired people from different countries; thus they have a different work culture and expectations of their jobs. Understanding this will help the management know-how to draft best an organizational culture that suits everyone.

In the same breath, the African culture will also be a significant problem in the future if it is not addressed today. Given that the company is in South Africa, it is expected that everyone who works for the company has to conform to the culture of South Africa. However, globalization will allow FNB to open branches all over the globe. If the same culture is practiced, then the company will not do well as a universal company. Having a global culture that can be adopted in different countries will sustain the company in any part of the world it wants to ventures. In addition, the employees will be easily be sent out to the different countries of operations to manage the company.

Communication breakdown is also a possible challenge in the future. Globalization has allowed different people to work in different countries (Bongila 2012). The main reason organizations need one organizational culture is to tame the other different cultures that are already installed in their employees, regardless of where they are coming from. Communication is also part of the culture; thus, it needs to be unified for it to work for the benefit of the company. The best way to install one communication design is through employee training on the same. Many companies will train new workers only. However, companies must change their communication strategy every often because communication is ever-changing. In the same vein, a company that currently has a rigid communication design will lead to communication breakdown in the future. The rigid structure has a lot of bureaucracies, something that is typical of African leadership. In turn, the bureaucracy limits the creativity and general ability of the employees. Globalization might have made communication a bit more difficult, but it also made it easier. For instance, universal languages were established due to the process. English is the first universal language. This means that no matter where one comes from or going to work, there will be people there who understand English. Creating an organizational communication strategy based on one language makes things much easier.

A second possible organizational challenge is the interaction between the company and the community. Kegley and Raymond (2005) agree that a strong relationship between a business and the public is critical. Public image enhances the growth of the company because it institutes loyalty among the public. However, there are two major concerns when it comes to too much involvement with the community. The first is that the community will not forgive easily in the case of problems. Seeck and Rantanen (2015) argue that people make mistakes in businesses, and some of these mistakes end up giving negative publicity. Although this is, unavoidable companies are frequently encouraged to have a strategic crisis management plan, however, to minimize the damage. If a company is too involved with the public, then the public will feel betrayed by the problem. The second issue of concern is the loyalty the employees will develop the community. Presently, this commitment can be seen among the employees of the FNB. The author explains that a majority of the employees agreed that their business units had a significant impact on community uplifting. Thus, if the company was to have some conflict, then the employees might be quick to tell the public, regardless of whether the company has a plan on how to deal with the problem or not.

The concept of Umhlanganos might also prove a challenge later on. Hargarter (2005, p. 33) explains that the bank frequently calls for all the employees and puts them in discussion groups to analyze the company and the situation they are in at that particular moment. The main challenge with this type of management is that it clashes with some personalities. Some employees are shy when in the spotlight. Such employees also tend to work alone. Moreover, are excellent at it working alone. Employee personality must be considered in the hiring process in order to tap firstly into the right strengths of the employee and secondly enable the employees to be comfortable at the workplace. Vieira (2014) explains that many employers think they know the strengths of their employees, when in fact they do not. This assumption is brought about by the generalization of facts the companies see at the workplace. Just because the employee attended the meeting did not mean he or she was comfortable enough to raise issues that affected the company or give helpful suggestions of more efficient ways of solving problems.

It is entirely agreeable that the way forward to minimize the impacts of all these challenges, if not eradicate them, is to change the leadership style. As Hargarter (2005, p. 40) explains, the best leadership style for the First National Bank should be flexible. Indeed, all companies that are looking to tap into globalization have to acquire a universal leadership structure to allow for easier management of country branches all over the world. In the same breath, a universal leadership structure should include a flexible communication strategy and a feasible crisis management strategy.

Strategic recommendations

In light of the challenges discussed in the previous sections, this section will highlight some of the recommended actions the company can take to ensure that the challenges are mitigated. The first suggestion is the implementation of a flexible leadership system. This will affect all other aspects of the company. In doing this, the bank can also use performance management measures to ensure that the leadership system they choose works. One such measure is the balanced scorecard (Esterhuyse 2013). The scorecard is typically an evaluation technique. Management will benefit from it because as it shows exactly what is working and what is not. It suffices to mention that leadership strategies also need to be occasionally revised, as per the situations that present themselves. The flexible leadership will also allow it to be adaptable to the different countries that the bank might be interested in investing.

Changing the communication strategy often is also advisable (Nel 2014). As mentioned, communication changes now and then. To prove this, one just has to imagine how different communication is today, from the past. Initially, in early man, contact was made through natural signs. This evolved to manmade signs like fire, blowing off a horn to mean danger or a meeting, and so forth. After this, the communication became more complex with the formation of letters, words, phrases, and sentences. In the two or so decades ago, where people would communicate using fax and letters. Today, people communicate using all manner of technological devices. First came the mobile phone, and then came the Internet. Right now, people in two different continents can not only communicate together but also see each other using technological advancements like Skype. In the same breath, sending of information has been made much easier than ever. Messages are received instantly via emails and calls. Moreover, information can be shared anywhere in the world through social media sites and so forth. There is no doubt that communication changes now and then. To be on top of the economy, FNB will also have to have a very flexible communication strategy plan.

It is also recommended that the company revise its hiring and firing policy. Botha (2013) argues that business owners tend to hire people they relate to. Thus, if the business owner is a generation X, he or she will most probably hire Generation X-ers (Chatterjee & Sahasranamam 2014). This will bring a lot of problems for the company in question. Employment should be given based on what the company needs, and merit. It would appear that generation x-ers are very loyal as compared to generation Y. Thus, it might be advisable to give a generation X a task that requires loyalty (Bharathy & McShane 2014). Generation Y will probably do best in a task that does not necessarily require him or her to go into the office daily. Indeed, the employment policy should also include the personality of the company. Hobsbawm (2008) argues that each company has a personality. This is described as the way it likes things to be done. Thus, in hiring and firing, the management should consider how the individual’s personality relates to the company’s character. Currently, there are several ways of analyzing personality. The most common is the aptitude test. Interviewees are required to take several aptitude tests before they get a job interview. The tests eliminate the people, which might be qualified, but have an entirely different personality compared to that of the company.

An employment policy should also include employee satisfaction measures. As mentioned, many employees in FNB were thrilled by the fact that the company was helping out in the community from time to time. Such things build on employee motivation; thus, go hand in hand with profits. Balestrini (2014) reveals that companies today give employees different things to show appreciation. For example, just openly acknowledging the efforts made by the employee in question motivates them to do better. Another advantage of doing this is that it reduces meaningless competition among the employees.

Additionally, FNB should invest in a crisis management strategy. From the case study given, there is no mention of how the company plans on solving a crisis. The lack of a plan is worrying sit means they do not have any active public relations strategy. It suffices to mention that FNB relies heavily on customer relations to be successful. As mentioned, so far, it has used corporate social responsibility to attain favor among the public. CSR involves using social ideals to improve or even make the public image of a company (Baker et al. 2013; Tianjing et al. 2015). This is, however, not enough. To ensure that the public stays loyal to the company, other public relations techniques have to be employed. Hart and Hart (2014) and Amirullah, Suratman, and Akib (2015) argue that the real test of management strategy is the reaction to a crisis. Thus, the presence of a crisis management strategy is essential.

It is crucial also to point out that the incorporation of bits of different cultures into the organizational culture can solve the problem of culture. There are two ways in which this can be solved. This method is a bit tedious and can fail if not done properly. The second option is to create an entirely different organizational plan that allows the employees to not only grow the company but also themselves. The advantage of the second option is that it is not biased. However, for it to work, the company will have to invest in a lot of trainings to highlight what they require from their employees.

Last, it can be suggested that FNB trains not only the new employees but also the other employees. This is a mistake many companies make (Garstenauer, Blackburn & Olson 2014). Training of the companies’ expectations should be constant and across all departments, Remind reminds the employees. What they are working for, additional inspiration the training can also help the employees get motivated and improve their level of performance. McCarthy (2014) explains that there are numerous things employees can be trained on. For example, they should be educated about the communication strategy changes. Imagine a company that has never had an intranet before. If the Intranet is installed today, all the employees in the company have to be trained on how to use effectively the Intranet. Otherwise, the investment would have been for nothing. Additionally, if the systems are improved or upgraded, it is up to the company to train the employees on the new things that have been added. To assume that the employees will fumble their way until they get it results in time wastage and performance level drop. Employees will also become too lazy to learn the new changes, as the management has not shown any interest in teaching them. In turn, the whole ordeal results in wastage of resources and time.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the case study report offers a lot of information about African leadership. The case study on the First National Bank appears to be the best choice because it is on its way to incorporating other leadership styles. Several things can be noted from the leadership style of the bank. The first is that it is a bit rigid. The communication strategy also appears to be rigid. Several potential challenges can be foreseen due to the condition the company is in right now. The first challenge is a major communication breakdown. Globalization has allowed different people to live and work in different places. Poor communication between people of different cultures will lead to disaster. To mitigate this, it is recommended that the company develops one comprehensive and effective organizational culture that suits all the employees. Additionally, employee personality should also be considered in the recruitment process. Their personality should go hand in hand with that of the company to reduce the chances of conflict. In addition, the personality matches every word of the company to ensure that the employees are comfortable enough to work.

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IvyPanda. "First National Bank: Leadership in Africa." July 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/first-national-bank-leadership-in-africa/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "First National Bank: Leadership in Africa." July 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/first-national-bank-leadership-in-africa/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'First National Bank: Leadership in Africa'. 7 July.

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