Re-imagining future leaders for erratic times through an unconventional approach
The world is currently under various levels of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has altered how we live our lives. What I thought was a haze turned into a storm that will stay with us for almost nine months.
In this continually changing world which is chiefly driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), economic challenges, failing governments and pandemics, there is even more need for professionals who adapt to change and uncertainty. In anticipation of the possible impact of the 4IR on the accounting profession, SAICA has released a new competency framework (CA2025) which emphasises the development of pervasive or enabling skills to technical knowledge. To achieve this, current and future CAs(SA) need to forgo the conventional and embrace non-conventional ways when they carry out their duties.
Among the myriad of lessons I have learned amid this pandemic, one that tops the list is that what has worked in the past isn’t guaranteed to do so in the future. Accounting professionals need to be in perpetual pursuit of innovative ways to deliver services and add value in their environment.
The CA2025 framework takes into account that future leaders need to adapt to a changing climate and expectations which may include, for example, the political environment. For instance, the political climate in the US during the elections has been hard to ignore, because US politics has a significant effect on the rest of the world. Here in South Africa, we will be having local municipal elections in 2021 and our finance minister has shared the mid-term budget policy which has provided for bailouts to ailing state-owned entities and recommendations which may cause conflict with the labour unions. What are our views and solutions? Have we even considered it?
In building responsible leaders who will fulfil their responsibilities by considering societal challenges and ethics, socio-economic issues should become regular conversation topics among accountancy students, professionals and leaders. The social media presence has increased significantly over the years and debates on various matters take place. Unfortunately, this implies that potentially less informed but influential people are also actively discussing politics, business, economy and ethical issues. However, many professionals have accepted a comfortable position of ‘minding our own business’ and are not voicing informed opinions to add value.
But we need to start being sensitive, comfortable, when facing dilemmas caused by challenges in our country and providing sustainable solutions to stay relevant. There are many other ways in which we can start disrupting our normalised perception of adding value.
To start realising the fruits of the CA2025 framework, we might have to turn the accountancy profession on its head.