• Priya Venkatesan

Rising to face the unknown


We live in unprecedented times.

The world has a common threat in COVID-19 and is united in its fight against suffering and pain.

An unknown future stares at us questioning our survival and sustainability.


While many call ‘leadership’ as a soft skill, a crisis puts it in the forefront. It is a a a core capability that moves people out of uncertainty and shows them the path.


Early in the week, I was pondering over what kind of leadership works in a crisis situation.

I believe that ‘leadership is what leadership does’. Below are stance and actions of some human beings that are out of the ordinary, that stood out for me. Amidst statistics of the global crisis that only causes more anxiety, I am hoping this post will build hope.


Leading from the front

We don't know many of them. We only go to them when we have a problem. Their reassurance moves mountains within us. Doctors, health care workers, support staff, are working relentlessly, to keep us safe risking their personal health and their families. They are showing us how to lead from the front.


My salute and gratitude to all of them for what they do in these troubled times. While we have individuals panicking working from home, they are the soldiers in the battlefield and the only people between us and the virus.


Let’s join in cheering them this Sunday, 22 March, at 5 PM as per the request of our Prime Minister, India.


Supporting from the sideline


There are multitude of people who make our every day life run even though we don't acknowledge their presence when they are there. They are like salt, we never notice when they are there. When they are not, our life is filled with hardship.


Drivers, domestic helps, bankers, grocery shop delivery persons, milkmen, water providers, and all those without whom we cannot sustain our ‘work from home’, heartfelt thank you.


Authenticity


The hotel industry is one of the worst hit in the crisis, with revenue eroding 75% and no light at the end of the tunnel. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, stood out to acknowledge the crisis and communicated as authentically as anyone could, the ground reality of his organisation and actions that have been warranted. The restraint actions starting top down with him is a great example of being in the crisis together.


Sharing what you have

Microsoft was one of the first companies to announce work from home options for their employees. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella offered full pay for the hourly workers, very rarely seen in the business world. Techies can work from home, however the hourly workers who support them at office do not earn if they don’t turn up for work. Satya’s stance gave a sense of relief and support to a lot of them. The Tata Group today announced the same.


Promise of sustainability

For people wondering how we are going to manage the blow and rise from it, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau offered $82 billion stimulus plan to ensure Canadians can pay for rent and groceries, and help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during this time of uncertainty. It will help ensure that workers have the money they need while they are sick or in isolation, or due to loss of work or a significant reduction in work income, and help support people and businesses experiencing financial hardship because of the outbreak.


Thinking beyond borders

When a crisis strikes, the default human tendency is to take care of oneself.

Mr Narendra Modi, PM of India amidst strengthening his country's preparations, also helped to ramp up the preparations of all neighbouring countries which are part of SAARC. Within days, India has supplied various medical supplies, testing equipment and sanitisers among other items to Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.


Empathy

While we find that organisations are focussed on their own profits as part of business growth plans, sometimes they do pause and think beyond. Serving others seems more important than serving oneself. A number of Sri Lankan insurers have gone public to reassure their customers that they will be covered against the virus under their existing policies.


There would be many more stories that I may have missed. To every individual who is a source of positive courage, resilience and action, thank you and we shall overcome!


To all those who are still anxious, a few questions below that can help you calm down.



Be healthy ! Be well!


#leadership #coaching #leadershipincrisis



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