Leadership for the Greater Good:
Global Thought Leaders Explore Today's Challenges
ILA’s blog launched in March 2020 amid a world struggling to make sense of the pandemic, racial inequality, and challenges to democracy. We charge our bloggers to apply their leadership knowledge and practical wisdom to inform and inspire us as we continued our work of advancing leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. Bloggers include authors from 12 countries spanning 5 continents.
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We are fighting the fires caused by an eruption of the collective shadow, of what has been repeatedly suppressed and ignored for decades; some would say centuries. The flames will once again be quelled and when they are, we must not breathe a sigh of relief. It will just be the beginning of the real work.
Officers Thao, Keung, and Lane stood by passively while George Floyd desperately pleaded to breathe and live. These bystanders should have had the psychological capacity to intervene and save his life. Why didn’t they act? The focus of our national conversation must be on them – for they are us.
We often hear that we are living in an unprecedented time. But there is nothing unprecedented about the sudden onset of life-threatening, systems-shaking shocks. Leadership of denial or salvation are common responses, but with care and thoughtfulness, a third kind of leadership may emerge: leadership of adaptation.
Words matter. They can create a worldview, manipulate thoughts and actions of people in a certain direction, and are often emotionally destabilizing. How do we cultivate the capacity to choose the right thing, the morally good thing, despite external pressure towards the opposite, especially in extreme circumstances?
We are experiencing an economic and health crisis. There is no savior who will rescue us from these crises or from ourselves. Achieving a positive outcome is up to all of us. We all need to be leaders and face tough realities without getting dragged down by the kind of fear that brings out our lesser angels.
Discussions of leadership for the new normal often implicitly assume that we all share the same old normal. Yet poverty, inequality, and unemployment greatly impact our starting point. As COVID-19 increases these issues worldwide, what strategy will enable us to transition to a transformed “abnormal new normal?”
To navigate the pandemic, we need leadership that supports science-based decision making and leverages the best in all of us. We need to find a way to solve the practical challenges we face today while imagining a tomorrow that is not dualistic but embraces ecology, health, and economy in a oneness we cannot yet imagine.
Chellie Spiller’s thoughtful postcards draw upon the ancient wisdom of waka navigators or wayfinders for the skills and behaviors needed in modern leaders. Central to the wayfinding approach is seeing what is really going on – discerning the detail and seeing the whole.
The coronavirus has revealed that some of our contemporary myths are suspect – particularly the UK and US’s claim of exceptionalism. The role of leadership is not to pretend that the unique values of a country will save them, but to support those that need help, and suppress those that remain irresponsible, for whatever reasons.
In light of COVID-19, how do institutions stay prepared and remain relevant? B-Schools, and other educational institutions, need to have candid conversations about how they respond to changes in pedagogical training, student’s perceptions of learning, and how they make preparedness a cornerstone of their program.
As we practice caution and social distancing, let us not distance each other in our hearts. As we are forced to slow down and stop our busyness, let us feed more than our fear. Let us strengthen our inner resolve, both physically and spiritually, so we can meet the necessities of the day in hopes of making things more beautiful.
The word “unprecedented” is often used to describe COVID-19 and all the ways it is impacting our lives and our world. But we have had experiences that can help us to weather this time. How can leaders draw upon these past experiences to be, as Vaclav Havel described, a non-anxious presence in the world?
ILA’s Leadership for the Greater Good blog is supported via a grant from the MetLife Foundation.