Last week, my good friend and business colleague, Gary Winter (see the post script to Harvard Business School article, “The Great Training Robbery”, which concerns the famous turn-round at Asda during the 1990s in which Gary was deeply immersed), told me about a programme he listened to on BBC Radio 4. In this, a prominent CEO spoke about doubting the necessity for their employees to remain working from home (WFH). The CEO felt they should be “keen and willing” to return to the workplace and their fears and concerns about Covid-19 were both mis-guided and misplaced (so singing from the same song sheet as President Trump uttering, “Do not be afraid,” upon his return to the White House from hospital). To us, it sounds as though this CEO does not trust their employees’ commitment.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.