Crisis leadership in strange times.

It’s not wartime but it is a war, against a disease. Under these circumstances, a different form of leadership is needed. Motivational, reassuring and engendering faith in a successful outcome.

I just watched Justin Trudeau’s video for this week on the Coronavirus to encourage his people to ‘#StayHome’. Its simple, sincere, direct, honest and genuine. It calls people to arms without hysteria, without being patronising, without pleading. He refers to the strength of individuals, and sends a message direct to the children which is reassuring and includes them in the effort to resist the disease.

People don’t want to hear that the supply chain for NHS staff PPE is broken. We want to hear it’s fixed. We want to hear of successes, not just failures in the system. We don’t want propaganda, but we do want information that reinforces the good things that are happening. Honest progress, not panicking, just responding.

There is good reason to thank the NHS teams. There is good reason, not just to clap, but to reward them financially. In any other industry an exceptional effort like this response would attract a substantial bonus. MPs have actually been offered an additional £10,000 work from home allowance… Seems strange 🤔 given they get an office allowance. I get they may well be working overtime, in which case just pay overtime.

I met a coach of one of the Great Britain Olympic teams a few years ago, while on a hypnotherapy course with Chrysallis Courses. They were there to help their competitors to gain an edge in their sport. When we talked, I realised that there is an incremental difference in the attitude of winning or coming second. To win there may be 100 small performance improvements, but most of the edge relies on the individual being convinced they can win and having absolute conviction in their own ability. We need this edge right now in many spheres. We need the faith that we can solve the issues, the strength to keep going whether keyworker, new work from homer, or homeschooler…

At the moment, too many people are experiencing unforeseen loss, often without the opportunity to say goodbye due to the risk of contagion. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Supermarket Flowers’ is a song that will resonate with more people at the moment than ever. Let’s support them in their grief as well as providing the more practical support (please see a previous blog Grief is Hard if it’s of interest).

What the world needs is an antidote to complacency and despair. Schools are likely to be closed until September… Work live gave radically changed for everyone… Parenting has become a whole new ballgame… (see Working from Home through the Coronavirus to see some of the things leaders will need to consider…). We need positivity, but we also need empathy and understanding from our bosses, colleagues and family.

Crisis leadership is a different mode of operation. It’s Winston Churchill’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech. It’s Martin Luther King and ‘I have a dream’. It’s inclusive, inspirational and brings determination into the hearts of those who hear it. Who is performing this role for us at the moment. The Queen’s Speech is the only example I have seen so far, she got it exactly right. We don’t need many like this but a few kind words does wonders for morale!

We are all in a weird situation one way or another. Let’s hope our leaders recognise our needs and respond, at the right time and in the right way. The country’s needs will change every week. The style of leadership required will also need to change.

All the best everyone.

Love Ruth

P.S. This is not part of my book, but I will write a more generic chapter on Crisis Leadership at some point. Please watch this space:

Header image by Hassan Almasi on Unsplash

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