Lead The Ship
In a time of trouble and in a world full of worries, the ONLY safe ship in a storm is Leadership
By DAVID McCONNACHIE
The storm seemingly came out of nowhere, and now the winds-of-change are howling wildly all around us. The storm’s surge is increasing, threatening to swamp all the boats, large and small, in its rising wake. The crew on the ship of state called HMCS CANADA, average citizens like you and I now turned combatants in the war against Covid-19, looks to the captains of our ship for guidance, for direction, for answers…..for leadership.
Part I - Lead The Ship
Around the world, in real time, we’re watching a generational tragedy unfold in front of us as we self-isolate and socially-distance ourselves from one another in hopes of ‘flattening the curve’ to ‘stop the spread’. We’re watching front-line healthcare workers suit up like medieval knights to wage a noble battle against a pitiless foe. We’re gaining a LOT of new respect for the key drivers of economic value, the people who make our food (and everything else that we all too often take for granted) and find ways to share it with us to nourish us in good times and in bad. And we’re starting to gain a better appreciation of what is important, what isn’t and what we’d like to see in ourselves and in others when we step into the post-Covid world.
Approaches & Models of Leadership During Covid Pandemic
One of the things that we’ve noticed is that there have been different approaches to managing this crisis, different models of leadership (or lack thereof, if you will). From national leaders to local Public Health officials, we’ve seen these ‘leaders’ step forward and attempt, with varying degrees of success, to manage this crisis (or appear to be managing to manage it). Some governmental leaders have gained a new measure of respect from their constituents for the tough decisions that they needed to make – and then for the courage to quickly implementing those decisions, to the best of their abilities, to benefit the public interest. Some governmental leaders have failed this challenge – and failed it miserably.
Closer to home, small business owners are leaders, too. They lead their business operations, they lead their teams, and they probably are active in leading their community’s economic development efforts, either directly through involvement in BIAs and Chambers, or by being ‘pillars of the community’ each and every time they open their doors to customers. The ship-of-state for the small business owner is facing unprecedented and unparalleled peril. The storm’s waves crash harder on the smaller boats, threatening to upend a lifetime’s work in the blink of the storm’s eye.
If you are like me, you are being asked to think and make decisions on-the-fly, and with conditions changing moment by moment. Some of these decisions are strictly business; others blur the line between professional angst and personal anxieties, as befitting the typical thoughts of a small business owner. Do we ramp-up production without knowing if our team members can get into the factory? Can we safely serve our clients and our community, while keeping ourselves safe, too? When will this uncertainty end? Can I make my rent? Payroll? Will there be anything left for me?
Battle for Business Survival with Leadership
Leadership, true leadership, is needed now more than ever, from the corridors of power politics to the storeroom/office of the local restaurants and cafes. We all need to take responsibility for the challenges that we face – and take meaningful actions to minimize the impacts to survive while still sowing the seeds that will allow us to thrive when the storm has passed. Leadership isn’t about telling people what to do and knowing all the answers. Leadership is about asking people how you (and they) can help – and then being wise enough to know that you need to be asking more questions, and listening to more of others’ informed answers.
In good times, leadership skills add value. In challenging times, leadership can be the difference between winning and losing in the battle for business survival.