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Opinion - Top organisational leaders’ challenges

2022-12-06  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Top organisational leaders’ challenges

Dr Rauna Shipena

Board interference in organisations’ operations is the source of many arguments and disagreements between the board and top management. The board of directors’ purpose is to oversee management as they operate and use organisational resources and make decisions. 

The board of directors works as a team to manage and control the organisation and make decisions in its best interest. Working together as a team and not working as individuals who measure their performance on an individual base. The board involving itself in the organisation’s day-to-day operation is not right because they are now playing a role of an overseer and management. 

The top management adheres to the organisational policies; however, the board and the line minister at times do not respect these efforts. Compliance is very critical; non-compliance is going against the foundation of the organisation’s purpose and existence.

Often the board of directors’ purpose is questioned when their work becomes a hindrance to a simple operation of the organisation. A three-tier level of management exists in most SOEs and medium and large organisations, namely, top management, middle management, and lower management. The MD or CEOs and the top organisational need to know their roles. The board needs to give sufficient decision-making autonomy without hindering the organisational operation to top organisational executives. 

Policies alignment regarding the board’s roles, and roles played by the line ministry, should not hinder the CEO and the top executive management from carrying out their tasks. Compliance is critical; non-compliance is going against the organisation’s foundation and what the organisation-managing director and top management stand for and going against corporate governance. The organisation’s responsibilities begin with the CEO, then top management, and the rest of the organisational team. 

In some instances, the board uses its power to forcefully remove chief executive leaders, which is an indirect admission of a failed hiring of the chief executive. Managing the organisation outside or without following the organisation’s strategic objectives; results in managing director (MD) and top management removal from their positions. The organisation’s strategy needs to be transparent to provide a road map for both the board and the top management of the organisation; to lead the board and management to carry out their duties successfully.

 Not all those appointed in top leadership positions understand their roles; the chief executive dismissal is not always due to the executive doing what they are not supposed to do; instead, the board decides because they are not pleased with the executive and the executive leadership abilities going forward. This is mostly discovered at the end of the five years of service to the organisation when the board decides not to renew the contract of the incubate CEO and advertise the position seeking a new CEO. 

The one-term CEO can be recycled at another state-owned enterprise, the ability of the CEO to be appointed or recycled at another organisation depend on their political connection and ability to network with high-powered individuals, to give them credibility to get the job. Some of these failed executive leaders enter into executive ladder climbing because they are willing to do anything to get appointed again. The package for a CEO is very good and a bit of prostitution to get what they want and feed their families with their executive prostitution pay is the norm with most executives if they would open up. 

The majority of CEOs know that they are not qualified to hold the positions they are appointed into. With these positions, advertised and interviews held are formalities. The person that would get the position knows that it is their position, and those who apply and attend the interview it is just to help legitimise the hiring process. 

Sometimes, you are promised the executive position, you get it, and thereafter, those that put you in that position they will start to demand, that you either participate in their old tradition of prostitution, fornication, or adultery activities or help them to benefit from the organisation. However, there are some board or top organisational leadership positions, which are free and fair, and do not require you to be involved in any questionable activities. 

However, you can never know which position is which. If you are not connected to political giants or powerful executives, you keep on applying until one day you get lucky or network in a correct circle and pray those who make you or put you in a powerful position do not come back and overthrow you and you suffer disgrace. 

That, with strong connections, specialises in disgracing individuals from grace to grass. Sometimes, you might be required to join occult groups or organisations so that you can continue to climb and become powerful. You cannot become powerful without sacrifices; you will find out when you get hired and settle in the position. What got you the position is not what is going to make you keep the position.

In Namibia, the SOE’s board members’ contract is three years, and the CEO or MD position’s contract is five years. The top executive leader is likely to go through two distinct board members during the five years, and that can be challenging for the executive leader and the C-suite, because the board that approved your hiring will not serve on the board until the end of your five-year term. 

Moreover, some of the board members are there to challenge your abilities and sharpen you, as a leader – but the journey will not be easy as in the case of the Namibian Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam); our sister is being sharpened, and she is crying for help from the ministers, the price for being on top. 

The board and the organisation’s top management positions should be emotionally mature. The board and human resource capital are involved in the recruitment of top executives. Emotional intelligence is essential, and there should be a way to test individuals if they possess emotional intelligence characteristics before appointing their top leadership positions. Emotional intelligence is essential for top positions, and testing the individual to determine whether they have that quality should be done. Emotional intelligence is a core character of a successful leader; emotional intelligence is core to organisational effectiveness.

Organisational boards and top managers think the board can dismiss members of organisational leaders any day, and they can. The ruling party’s style, which is in power, and controlling the government, has an impact on how SOEs are managed, hire fire, and retain executives. The SOEs firing tradition has changed due to the change in the legal environment through the introduction of the regulation regulating corporate boards. 


*Dr Rauna Shipena is a doctor of management graduate from Colorado Technical University in the USA. Her doctoral degree concentration is in executive leadership.  A scholar-practitioner and can be contacted at:

2022-12-06  Staff Reporter

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