Pilipinas Shell CEO tackles transformational leadership during pandemic

A leader must embrace change to successfully steer his or her company to adapt to and evolve with the challenges and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, says Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. President and CEO, Lorelie Quiambao-Osial.

Osial recently shared her thoughts on being a transformational leader in the midst of the pandemic during Pfizer Philippines’ National Sales Conference (NASCON).

Challenge of Uncertainty

“Even as we speak, things continue to change and at a faster pace, requiring us to deal with complexities that come with some changes that are quite unprecedented. Thus, I know that what got me to Point A will not necessarily get me to Point B, and that I must continue to evolve and to adjust in the uncertain environment created by the pandemic,” she says.

Osial also shares that a leader must be open to changing his or her approach towards the situation. In her case, it was difficult putting out fires since she not only heads PSPC, she is also Vice President for Finance Process Expenditure of Shell Shared Services, the business process outsourcing unit of Shell.

This means that she manages 4,600 plus  people in the country, and reacts to all the changes posed by the pandemic not only in the Philippines, but also in 50 other countries served by the Shell Global network.

“I said to my team to switch the way we think. We should look at and prepare for the worst-case scenario, not only operationally but also emotionally and psychologically. When we are able to do that, things become easier, and we also become more courageous and braver.”

Shell’s finance leader-turned CEO also says it helps to change the way we look at the pandemic so that we can get through it. Osial says the uncertainties posed by the pandemic can be overwhelming; thus, a step-by-step approach can help one get more comfortable about thinking of and planning for the future.

Osial emphasizes the importance of forging deeper and more nuanced connections and relationships, and reconnecting with peers, teams, and stakeholders, despite the limitations of online and virtual communications.

“Communicate purposefully using the right frequency and value your people and your resources,” she advises.

No one formula for becoming a strong and effective leader

“There’s no one formula to success. In situational leadership, you’re leading change and/or dealing with change. You have to make sure that you keep operations steady while leading your organization all throughout the challenges and uncertainties posed by the pandemic,” Osial says.

“What is important is clarity of purpose, not only for the organization, but also for the leader. It is important not only to be clear about the organization’s purpose, but also about what one wants to achieve for the organization,” she says.

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February 2022