In this episode of the Ukwanda podcast, we talk to Ismail Lambat, the executive finance business partner and CFO at Eskom as he shares insights on how to deal with uncertainty as a manager and navigate others through difficult times.

Topics discussed:

- Eskom - Leadership paradigms - Team dynamics - People focus vs task focus - Performance - Communication - Managing self  


Introductions How I met Ismail

Context - difficult times economically

What are you reading at the moment

Your role at Eskom/your tenure/what does your team composition look like currently i.e. ages/gender etc.  


Managing staff through a difficult organisational transition

Do you think there is a difference between management and leadership in general and if so do you think the impact of each is accentuated during difficult times?

Leadership and management becomes that much more important during tough times as people look more to their leaders during times of ambiguity and uncertainty (task and people management)

How do you define your role as a manager during a difficult time - does this change somewhat because the expectation is different?

What is your approach/model/philosophy to managing the difficulty staff may be experiencing during that transition  


Does the team demographics influence how you help manage others during a difficult time?

When resources are constrained and you can't motivate through financial reward what are some of the things a manager can focus on to help motivate?

How do you build trust when there may be high levels of mistrust with senior leadership?

Is psychological safety a misnomer when steering employees through a difficult time?

How can managers facilitate communication when communication lines may be marred and broken at an organizational level? So you have to allow your staff to communicate and express their feelings, some of that is going to be negative. How do you manage that and contain it? Communication can allow for some release and processing?

How do you deal with the negativity within a team experiencing this organisational transition?

Generating positive emotions - celebrating wins  


What challenges have you found to arise with managing/maintaining performance during an uncertain time within the organization i.e. do you continue with performance reviews or do you adopt different techniques?

Have you seen productivity being impacted? In a difficult context, often telling staff next steps is effective but in your case, you don't really know so there is a lot of ambiguity. How do you deal with that?

The issue of transparency

Vulnerability and authenticity

Strong culture assists during tough times, do you agree?  


How important is it to take care of yourself during a difficult organisational transition or is this just a popular misconception?

How do you take care of yourself (are you intentional about this or is it something that works itself out)?

How do you balance the care of your employees with care for your family and self?

You're a man of faith/what role if any does your faith play in helping you navigate difficult times?

Final thoughts for managers/leaders helping navigate their teams through tough times?

How do you keep yourself motivated?