Salma el-Shurafa, Certified Executive Coach Discusses How Businesses Can Move Forward After COVID-19

Lindsay Judge   |   06 - 07 - 2020

As we continue to go through this uncertain time, businesses, no matter how big or small, are having to adapt in order to survive during this time.


There’s no hiding some will fail, but there are ways in which many businesses can change and switch their processes and outputs to ensure they will come out on top. Salma El-Shurafa, Founder of the Pathway Project is coaching businesses through this time. A Certified Executive Coach, El-Shurafa has coached many businesses in the region through transformations and times of change and supported them through growth. Of course, as the world changes, her own business methods have had to change and adapt to be able to support clients virtually and reach out to them in new ways. As many business owners are unsure of how to handle the new challenges they face, El-Shurafa is on hand to coach them through their new path to success.


How have you had to adapt your techniques to work through the current situation?

It was tough in the beginning. Most of my work is face to face and so it wasn’t easy to adapt at first. I had to step out of my comfort zone and ask myself the question “what is needed for me to adapt to this current situation?”. I had to shift my perspective ‘from it can’t be done’ to ‘it can be done’. Everything had to adapt to online processes to meet the current needs of clients at this time. Having my coaching sessions wasn’t an issue because I used to do most of them online. But what I really needed to shift was my workshops. I have now designed online workshops. I started to think of new ways to create content that is still deep and powerful. The current situation is making me re-define my business but what I always keep in the forefront, is not to lose the human component of what I offer. I am still learning. It is trial and error at the moment.


How can businesses adapt and change their strategies during this time? How do you think business owners will need to adapt their strategies moving forward after this crisis?

The pandemic is reminding us now more than ever that we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. It is very difficult to predict the impact of this crisis, but we know it’s a dire one. There is a necessity for businesses, big or small, to be agile in the way they operate and how they implement their strategies which means leaders need to be flexible and adapt quickly to the changes. Organisations and businesses need to understand their current context and anticipate changes by forecasting and planning for current and future actions. In these forecasts, they need to anticipate the consequences of decisions and actions for them to be more equipped.


They need to mobilise their resources through communication and cooperation, acting quickly and appropriately and creating conditions for sustainable performance. This is done by being clear on their purpose and vision and leveraging on their talent. This will support them in becoming for fluid and efficient and in building trust. They need to evaluate their current innovation strategies to decide if they need to create and/or improve products, processes and performance. It is key to identify the requirements of the current environment for them to plan ahead and identify actions that may need to be taken to recover and/or improve performance. It is navigating through these changes and understanding our customer needs to find ways that better meet those needs.


The questions businesses need to ask themselves are:

What is our purpose and vision? Does that need to change?
What are the required strategies and organisational structures needed in this current environment?
What are the needs of our customers?
What needs to change in the way we work today?
What is the type of leadership that is needed to lead the way?
How can we be more resilient in the future?
What have we learned so far from this crisis?


I think it is time for the world to start working together and develop ways to generate collective performance. Leaders need to be inclusive. We can’t act alone anymore. We need to go back to the drawing board and start looking at different factors and events that might impact us now and in the future. We have to be more equipped and ready for whatever comes. The question here is how can we build more interdependence?


What are some of the requests you have been seeing from business owners since this crisis starts?

Designing and delivering programmes online with topics around building trust and a growth mindset, developing mindfulness practices, building resilience and how to lead teams virtually. There have also been requests for executive and team coaching to support their talent.



What advice would you give to business owners who are worried about the future of their companies during this time?

Not to overthink and set their priorities to help them focus on what is important for their business at this moment. Do not dwell, in times of uncertainty, we need to think quickly. Breakdown thoughts, plan actions, take small steps and evaluate each step. The more proactive we are, the more we will feel in control and have the ability to navigate through these times. So, take action and move forward.

Look at the cup half full and find opportunities in this crisis. We are all experiencing intense emotions so the need to build a healthy mindset and apply self-care is crucial. Step back and take the time to connect with yourself to rejuvenate to help your business.


While many are working from home, what are some workshops and activities we can do to interact as a team during this time?

This is the time organisations should be investing in their talent. As we have seen, a lot of people have been focusing on learning new skills to develop themselves personally and professionally. And so, businesses should help them do so. Having coaching programs for individuals and teams can build team alignment, productivity and motivation.


Workshops on empathy and mindfulness can help individuals connect better to themselves and those around them. Some activities include having weekly hangout chats to bring teams together and doing 5-minute group check-in before each meeting to bring the “human” aspect to meetings. Having these types of interactions can help people connect and feel part of a community.


What do you think is something positive that will come out of this situation?

Realizing the importance of connecting with ourselves, our family and loved ones. This pandemic brought people together as a community. It showed us how generous we can be as human beings and how quickly we can adapt. We have become more aware and conscious and I think that is the beginning in reevaluating everything we have known to create a better future.


What is the motto you’re living by during this time?

I have many depends on the day! “Have faith and trust everything will turn out ok.” “Everything is figure-out-able” (A motto I adopted from Marie Forleo). I also encourage everyone to recite this serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”


What is the message that you are sending to your clients at this time?

Time to step back and evaluate where you are and where you want to go. Take care of your mental health. Take time to create a balance and shift to a better or healthier lifestyle. Take the opportunity to realign yourself. There are possibilities and opportunities and in every upset, there is a setup for our growth.


How do you approach different business sectors and how does your advice differ from industry to industry?

We are all experiencing similar challenges which is how to keep people motivated and how to build resilience and relationships to allow us to continue to generate value for people and customers. People have become important. The only difference would be the organisational strategy.


How are you supporting business owners during this time of crisis?

Listening to their needs. Realigning them with their vision. Finding new plans. Helping them to build resilience.