Life and Leadership after Covid
Let’s face it: the world, and humanity in particular, is in a pickle.
Those most vulnerable are taking the greatest hit (and by the way, a healthy society would see to their needs first). Yet the survival of larger institutions, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, is also unexpectedly being threatened.
As with any structure, weaknesses in the foundation or in the construction process eventually get exposed. Recognized in time, these faults can be attended to before the building collapses.
Enter Covid19. In the business sector, many quarterly and annual projections have been wiped out. The most considerate leaders have had to make anguished decisions around furloughs and layoffs. Some businesses will have to close their doors permanently. Employees may be frightened, angry and/or confused. Many other cracks in modern culture are becoming more visible along the way as well.
So, what are we left with?
For one, we can turn to honest, heart-centered leadership, along with some time-tested tools for promoting positive human relationships. Throw in a healthy dose of courage and imagination. This allows difficult change to be faced and made the most of.
Now, let me be clear: it is not the job of any one leader to solve the tangled web of human problems we have created – locally, nationally and globally. Even within a specific organization, group or body of government, it is never the leader alone who will solve the challenges at hand.
What are leaders for, then?
Leaders see the big picture and they keep their eye on the North Star in order to provide orientation and a sense of direction. Leaders help to inspire. They coordinate the imagination and efforts of the collective. They seek out a diversity of voices, experiences, and skills. They have their eyes wide open to current reality and they anticipate the future in an educated way. Leaders bring to life “We the People;” they keep things moving from the Courage to Dream to the Courage to take Action. In the mix, they invite the Courage to Confront, the Courage to be Confronted, the Courage to be Vulnerable, and the Courage to Learn and Grow.*
The gift of Covid, then, if I am allowed to say there is a gift, is that it may be calling for a bold reimagining of how we run our businesses and our societies, in a way that can truly yield “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all. The best solutions will take into account the interconnected nature of all life, human and non-human. Our ancestors sought to consider the well-being of “the next seven generations;” their wisdom remains as important for us today as ever, and businesses who walk the talk around this are likely to continue to engender a loyal following. (Random shout-out: check out Who Gives A Crap USA This bamboo toilet paper supplier did an exceptional job communicating with customers during the Covid19 shortages. Their outreach sealed the deal on my use of a product I already like and pay a little extra money for.)
So how about we don’t seek to return to “business as usual,” even if we could? Let us ask ourselves what we are learning during this time of unanticipated change and unrest and how this can that be leveraged for a better future?
I’d like to leave you with some calls to action.
If you are a business leader, create ways to gather a true diversity of perspectives from all levels within your organization. Ask for top suggestions on how to improve workflow, employee morale and the success of your enterprise. Then act on that wisdom!
Consider working toward sustainability certification: this can be a win-win, helping to cut business costs, inviting new customers, while also decreasing degradation of our planet.
Check out Robert “Dusty” Staub’s book: The 7 Acts of Courage: Bold Leadership for a Wholehearted Life. It’s a short read with a compelling message.
And please do leave us an inspiring comment: How are you, your team and/or your organization re-imagining the future?