"Followers always watch their leaders; and in times of crisis they stare!" a wise mentor once reminded me. So leaders, recognize that your actions are always influential to others, but during times like these, your behaviors, communication and actions loudly broadcast your character, your compassion, your competence and your leadership from a mountaintop with a megaphone.
Early in my career I had a boss who began work earlier than others and also worked later most days, so I did the same because I was watching someone whose behavior I believed I should emulate to be successful. Leaders, what you say and do matters. Sometimes it's the little things like your visible work ethic, sometimes its the big things like the way your respect and treat others, and the way you boldly step onto that pedestal with both confidence and humility in times of crisis. I never thought I'd live to see a television ad featuring the CEO's of all the large healthcare systems in St. Louis unite to visibly share resources and compassionately guide the region toward a better post-pandemic future, together. It was remarkable; and it was an example of great leadership! Well done. The pedestal was there; and these leaders used it for good.
During the past month, our Rotary Club President has hosted Zoom club meetings each week since the club can't meet. As a result of her leadership, members have stayed connected, learned new coping mechanisms from one another, shared new skills, and together we've maintained our commitment to service above self. This week, our incoming President challenged us to contribute to a fundraiser to assist the Food Bank whose demand has multiplied exponentially since the advent of the pandemic in northeast Missouri. And because of his leadership, this effort was an overwhelming success! Our club, however, is among only a few in our District that has chosen to maintain its momentum; why? Because the Club's leadership said, "it's up to us as leaders to keep this going...what options do we have....how can we re-imagine what it means to come together?" And then they took action and brought members together in a new and innovative way.
What about church leaders and pastors who have learned to adapt to the reality that their faith communities can't gather? I've been to church three weeks on Facebook Live, now; I could never have predicted this. So, what separates those who have learned to adapt and cope, and those whose congregations are deteriorating rapidly? Leadership. Not the flawless execution of actions that always work, but the commitment, courage and willingness of leaders - formal and informal - to step into the fire and try, to be there for people in new and innovative ways, and learn beside them how to create a new sense of normal. Leaders intentionally invite followers to join together in navigating these uncharted waters with the confidence that they will arrive safely on the shore as the fog on the horizon begins to clear.
Leaders of all groups of people must step up onto the pedestal in times of uncertainty, ambiguity, crisis and fear. Organizations that will thrive in the aftermath of this pandemic are led courageously even as their leaders recognize their own vulnerability. Is is scary? Yes. Is it risky? Yes. Is it required? Absolutely.
So, be the leader to which we turn when all seems lost. Be the leader that inspires confidence when the way forward is unclear. Be the leader that really cares for her or his people. You can be either a beacon of hope or despair. But regardless, you are on a pedestal and your light is shining brightly. Jump onto that pedestal, grab your megaphone, and lead the way. Be the hope and promise others are seeking, today. We are watching; it's your day!
For specific ideas and practices to better lead your team and discover tactics you might deploy to be the leader you aspire to become, contact www.JLev.Life. Together, we'll work through how you will shine a light that inspires, offers hope and helps your group navigate with optimism through these uncertain times.