Leadership in a COVID-19 World

The Covid-19 pandemic means supporting the basic and psychological needs of staff with a different style of leadership.

The effect of Covid-19 has invoked uncertainty over health, income, and indeed our very future. The effect of the pandemic means that normal life has been overturned. The metaphorical alligators are amongst us…

‘When you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp’

Against this backdrop, leadership in companies has also been challenged. Guiding staff through uncertainty demands a radically different approach than leading in times of relative stability. 

But recent experiences with clients have highlighted outstanding examples of managers and directors, by instinct, in response to Covid-19. They have swiftly adopted a new approach in the direction of their businesses and staff.

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Praise!… Welcome to the revolution!

We are living in difficult times.  A lot of reflection on what is right and what is wrong is happening at the moment.  We have started questioning ourselves about our ways and what we can do better.  During my high school years, I was a very enthusiastic basketball player.  By enthusiastic I mean that I played every day but was never a good player.  I struggled most of the time, so I spent most of my basketball ‘career’ in fixing mode.  My coach constantly told me “when things are not going well, go back to the basics and you will find the solution”.  A couple of months ago, I decided to go back to the basics and reflect on how I could add value to the people around me.

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COVID-19: the sequel

The curse of the virus

“May you live in interesting times,” states the Chinese curse.  Courtesy of a global pandemic that arose in Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei, we certainly are.  (Conspiracy theorists may counter that America introduced the virus covertly into China, see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/12/conspiracy-theory-that-coronavirus-originated-in-us-gaining-traction-in-china.)  The world is in lockdown.  Even President Trump has had to backtrack from saying it was a non-event and all would be sorted by Easter to saying things are going to get far worse.  The picture of the huge US navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, entering New York harbour is deeply dispiriting.

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Lent Leadership Lament: Top 5 things to give up for Lent

What are the negative leadership traits you will give up for Lent? Maybe the ‘luxuries’ of error, laziness and omission. I’ve found five, inspired by recent articles by Guest Authors on this Blog. What are your top 5?

Today is Shrove Tuesday. It is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter. This was traditionally a period of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were ‘Shriven’ (absolved from their sins). Lent is also a time when people commit to giving up certain luxuries – hence the question “What are you giving up for Lent?” As you can see, I know today’s feast day as ‘Pancake Day’. And my plan is to give up pancakes for a year – until Shrove Tuesday comes around again in 2021.

Once again I have to remind myself this is a leadership blog, not a culinary one. So what can leaders give up for Lent? Maybe the ‘luxuries’ of error, laziness and omission. For inspiration I looked back at recent articles from our merry band of Guest Authors and came up with five negative traits leaders might consider giving up for Lent.

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Over to you, coach.

The opportunity to blog also presents the opportunity to reflect – and what a year it’s been!

As we reach the end of the year, the decade even, the opportunity to blog also presents the opportunity to reflect – and what a year it’s been!

We seem to be ever more at odds in our society, our politics, our lives, with the main casualty seemingly being truth – who knew fake news would be a thing?

And, as I’ve touched on before, we’re further away than ever from the “dream” existence that we’ve been sold.

When the overriding emotions in society seem to be fear, or worse still, hate we’re one heck of a long way from Kansas, Toto. So, what to do?

I guess in most instances, the standard procedure is to mourn the lack of leadership in our society and call for a new type of leader, who can rise above the pettiness, but what if that leader – those leaders – already exist?

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Leading for Longevity

I’m reading a fantastic book at the minute – and by fantastic, I mean terrifying! It’s called “The 100 Year Life” and as the title suggests it deals with the fact that our every increasing longevity, whilst a gift, will only be so if we seek to challenge our preconceptions about how that life is structured.

In short, and I really am paraphrasing, the authors explain that anyone in their late teens/early twenties can expect to live to the ripe old age of 106! This means that our current three stage “life model” of education, work and retirement is no longer valid or realistic.

It’s a great read, and one I’d highly recommend. The terrifying part came when I started to think about what that meant for me – and the challenge for business and how it approaches leadership – when I think about “my” generation and the space they inhabit.

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Strategy is Rehearsal

Strategy as Rehearsal

I coached someone today who has a personally very important speech to deliver and wanted to get it as right as possible.

As I listened to him speak I was struck by the demonstration of leadership that he was embodying in both what he said and how he said it. For me, it also was a brilliant example of how to solve the strategy/execution conundrum that is the source of so much leadership scholarship.

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The kids are alright

Let’s start this month’s essay with a musical philosophy question. 

In the 1960s, the Who sang “The kids are alright”.  In 1998, The Offspring sang “The kids aren’t alright”.  Which group had the more prescient song?

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Reining in the horses


In Biblical terms, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse were Pestilence, Famine, War and Death.  An American psychologist, Dr John Gottman, who researches divorce and its causation, identifies four new horse riders that he names Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. The adverse impact of these behaviours apply in organisational leadership just as much as marital relationships.

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Trains – going nowhere, slowly

It is the day of the 10th anniversary of the WOW! Awards gala at the Tower of London.  I thought it would salve my anger to write about the train “service” my local train operating company, Greater Anglia, “provides”.  As a  corporate entity it has about as much chance of winning an award as a chocolate remaining in a solid state in a furnace.

Today also saw the annual announcement of the increase in rail fares, 3.1% in January 2019.

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