As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on public health, the economy, and people's lives, society is turning to leaders--government officials, chief executives, hospital directors, scientists, school principals and superintendents--for reliable information and guidance.
How can people in these roles live up to the expectations and responsibilities?
Dov Seidman, founder and chairman of LRN and The HOW Institute for Society, addresses the question in a recent Fortune article. He puts forth the avenue to providing this kind of moral leadership entails “putting people at the center of major decisions, seeing them in their full humanity with their own aspirations and concerns.” This, in turn, means being driven by purpose, inspiring and elevating others, being animated by values and principles and wrestling with questions of right and wrong, he explains in an earlier Fortune piece.
When it comes to corporations, their values and ideals are being tested more than ever during this pandemic.
Not all business leaders will pass the current test, but great leaders will excel, Seidman said in a recent interview with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. Great leaders “make hard decisions guided by values and principles, not just politics, popularity or short-term profits,” said Seidman. “The leaders we will remember from this crisis are those who put more shared truth into our world, not muddied it. And those who put more trust into our world and not eroded it.”
In addition to truth, people look to leaders for hope. While some leaders seem to think people want only good news and optimism to allay their fears, the true antidote to fear is hope, he said. “Hope comes from seeing your leader lead in a way that brings out the best in people by inspiring collaboration, common purpose, and future possibilities. It takes hope to overcome great fear and meet great challenges,” said Seidman.
Seidman and Friedman make a point about humility. During crises, transformational leaders instinctively know when to step back and consult others. They know what they don’t know. Collaboration and honest dialogue about next steps and future plans are markers of leadership focused on protecting stakeholders’ society at large.
These are the kinds of leaders that people will turn to help them stay safe and resolute during periods like this. Chances are these are the leaders that will deliver on people’s hopes and expectations.
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