The future of managers in an ever-polarized world

Written by Taranjeet Singh, Chair of the Regional Board of CMI Malaysia Wednesday 28 April 2021
Managers need to be anchors in an unsettled sea – without them, we become untethered to what’s important for our organisation
Bird's eye view of a broken plate with each separate piece held by a hand

The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens opens with the following words:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

This surely rings as true now as it did then.

While chaos ruled the land and all seemed to be lost, within it there was hope. Likewise, we have witnessed an event of global cataclysmic proportions unfold since 2020 and in Malaysia specifically, since 18 March 2020 when the first of the Movement Control Order (MCO) came into effect.

Covid-19 left many businesses closed, with more on the verge of closure; many employees being asked to leave, simply due to the business’s inability to sustain them, bolstering the unemployment  statistics. And the predictions are that the worst is yet to come.

Already we are seeing polarisation in society: on one side, some believe the pandemic is  a conspiracy  and some don’t want to leave the confines of their homes for fear of contracting a very real health threat. This has caused a fallout from the health, economic and social challenges that this virus has caused individuals and nations alike.Sectors that require on-site workers to operate effectively – such as manufacturing, aviation, hospitality, and financial and banking to name a few – have been severely impacted. While  the shock of the Covid-19 to the Malaysia and its neighbouring countries was synchronised – in that it impacted all sectors almost concurrently – the recovery of these economies will not be. Instead, t we expect to see a staggered restart of the economy.

Despite these many disruptions and disappointments brought about by Covid-19,  there are some positives. The technology that was humming ceaselessly in the background has been brought to the front and centre of all organisations.  Effective management  of remote teams has become a reality. The management of outcomes versus  activities is taking shape. However, what is fundamental across all sectors  is the need to have managers be an  anchor; these managers need to be reliable, need to inspire staff loyalty, and will be necessary for organisational sustainability and business longevity. Without these managers, we cannot hope for critical future growth. It is with this in mind that the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) comes into its own.

With a clear focus by CMI UK on nurturing managers to better lead and manage organisations, the Regional Board of CMI Malaysia complements this with its aim to be the go-to body for professional development and networking for local and global members alike.

As such, we have outlined the following guidance for our members and readers:

  • An absolute demand for standards of excellence in everything that managers are responsible for – whether it be from the very thoughts held by them, the actions undertaken by them or even in the way they conduct their work;
  • A need for accountability to do the right things. This is key as it is only by holding oneself accountable for one’s actions, will one appreciate the need to do the right thing and stand by that commitment to see it through to the very end;
  • The need to be supportive of each other – and, more critically, be invested in each other’s success. It is only by jointly uplifting of all of us will there be the possibility of collective benefit to the CMI community specifically, but to the national managerial pool at large.

As managers, we must ensure that the talent we are responsible for feels well supported while working with us. To be effective managers, we must strive for the highest levels of standards, we must learn to conduct difficult conversations, we must garner collective support towards a common goal and to push boundaries for performance and productivity. The question before you  is: how effectively do you see yourself as a manager displaying these behaviours?

This pandemic has demonstrated to all of us that it’s more than just driving the short- to mid-term financial returns. Likewise, while there has been a lot of talk about having the right components within the organisation, it is the practical application of these components that now makes the difference of the demise of an organisation or its continued success.

As Chair of the CMI Regional Board of Malaysia, I am honoured to be alongside distinguished members of the Regional Board and CMI Companions who strive to make a positive impact on the managerial pool within the Nation.

Join us, work with us, and make a difference to those around you as we inculcate the highest standards of excellence and accountability through consistent professional development for the betterment of ourselves as managers of people and leaders of businesses. We are here to serve. Help us serve you better, as we push forward the Agenda for the Professionalisation of Managers within Malaysia and the region.

You can find out more about CMI’s values here, and check out our professional standards here.

By Taranjeet Singh, Chair of the Regional Board of CMI Malaysia and CEO of Quantum Steppe Advisory. Taranjeet has returned to Malaysia after living and working in Central Asia for the past several years. He can be contacted at

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