The current national and international lockdown is impacting individuals in ways that may not yet be obvious. Most organisations with the exception of those that are classed as “essential” are either working from home or closed, such as the hospitality sector including hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants and sports centres as well as many small businesses that are either temporarily or permanently closed as their cash flow could not stand the “forced” closures.
Whilst Covid19 has taken the world by storm and led leaders in governments to make extreme decisions by closing the economy to protect the vulnerable, what is the actual impact on individual health due to fear, anxiety and lack of social contact? Is this being measured and is there a plan to address this?
It is easy to be critical of our leaders for taking decisions that most leaders will never have to face, but assuming that these decisions to close economies are correct, where is the plan to manage the situation, and more importantly deal with the fallout from anxiety caused by firstly the fear of getting the deadly virus and secondly fear of the unknown due to potential redundancy, continued furlough, health of loved ones and so on that is increasing the number of people suffering from mental ill health on a daily basis? How come this has not been addressed by our governments? Are our leaders really blind to this?
What is the impact of fear on a person and on society?
During the last year, certainly in the UK we have been told to stay home to protect the vulnerable and our NHS (national health service) therefore, to avoid mixing and socialising, to not visit family members and to keep grandchildren away from their grandparents so that they do not pass on the virus, consequently protecting them. Whilst this is protecting them from Covid, could it be possible that we are negatively affecting both the grandchildren and the grandparents and possibly “killing” them with separation and isolation?
The definition of fear according to the Cambridge dictionary is “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad, that is happening or might happen.”
Fear is the underlying issue that stops us from making change, from taking risk and most importantly from “hearing and seeing” what it is we need to see and hear. It drives behaviour that we would not normally exhibit when we use our logic and think clearly using our left-brain function of analysis, calculation and logic. Infact fear paralyses the ability to think and therefore those being led through a fear situation often look to their leader/s to provide direction, surety and calm in the way forward. This opens the door for an autocratic leadership approach during a crisis. Followers are told what to do, and in most cases follow blindly during the time of uncertainty and chaos.
As the chosen style of leadership has so far been the autocratic style surely it is time to address how we are to move forward in order to generate confidence and trust in both our leaders and the future? As we have been under the Covid threat for almost a year now, and probably more than a year as there are reports of people suffering with Covid type symptoms in December of 2019, is it not time to pull together a plan of action to:
- Balance the Covid threat with everyday life enabling businesses to get on with business and for people to live and go about their business “normally”?
- Restore the economy from the devastation the pandemic has caused?
- Deal with the fallout from the fear that has led to the massive increase in mental ill health, anxiety and depressive disorders in all ages within our societies?
- Bring families together to support each other as would normally be the case in a crisis, rather than dividing them creating additional fear and insecurity, which in turn weakens the immune system?
Surely leadership is not only about fighting fires, but putting in a plan to get everyone out of the fire, even in an unknown situation? It is clear now that the current government adviser group are not coming up with answers to address most of these issues, simply hanging their hat on a vaccine that even they admit does not stop transmission of the virus nor does it make you immune against the virus. Therefore surely it makes sense to invite and listen to other expert bodies of people who are not within the usual adviser group to get some different perspectives and inputs on how to move forward out of this situation?
This brings to mind the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne published in 2005 which is primarily the study of Cirque de Soleil and several other organisations including Starbucks and North West Airlines and how they created new market space. Instead of competing in a red ocean, they created their own blue ocean of tranquillity and success and in so doing appealing to a new market, leaving competitors behind. We have been in the Covid red ocean for too long, competing for who supplies who with what to fight the fire and “beat Covid”. Where is the strategy to leave this red ocean and move on into calm and normality, whatever that might look like?
Remember, “if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got”? Cirque de Soleil came out of the red ocean it was in by analysing what others were doing, taking the best from that and creating something completely different, thus creating a market audience so that years later they are still very successful.
When can we expect to see a Blue Ocean Strategy that our leaders use to lead us into calmer and successful waters?
To find out more about how Green Key can help you and your leadership journey, contact Rachel directly.
Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne, published 2005, Harvard Business School Press
New here? Rachel writes about leadership development, communication and customer excellence, including health and well-being at work. You can read similar blogs here: