I don’t know any other way to lead but by example. — Don Shula
When General George C. Marshall took command of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, he found the post in a run-down condition. Rather than issue orders for improvements, he got out his own paintbrushes and equipment and went to work on his personal quarters.
Other officers and men did the same thing, and the U.S. Army base eventually looked better.
Leadership by example is a timeless principle, and actions like this speak volumes.
While our current circumstances we find ourselves in today obviously do not mirror those found in the story, we need leadership by example as we’ve never needed it before.
To be sure, leading in a time of a worldwide pandemic is not something any of us have experience in. It’s new territory.
But the foundational principles of leadership are applicable to any situation and is why it’s incumbent upon leaders the world over to step up and be the leader others are looking for.
What exactly does leadership in a global pandemic look like? When the people you lead look to you, what hope and assurances are you offering to them?
Recently, I was re-reading “Leadershift” by John Maxwell. In the book he makes this noteworthy observation: “What is happening around you determines whether you hold fast or move forward.” This is especially true today.
Whether or not you move forward depends on how you act today. It’s why your leadership is so important to you and the people you lead.
I believe in times like this that there are a few foundational leadership principles that you need to be standing on.
Lead with focus and perspective
In uncertain times, we need leaders with a steady hand and proper perspective. We don’t need endless knee-jerk reactions to everything we see and hear. This only breeds more fear and stress. We need leaders who know how to weather the storm that allows others to gain much-needed confidence. Calm focus and perspective should serve as a model for stable leadership.
Lead with the right attitude
Attitudes are contagious and the attitude of the leader tends to be the attitude throughout the organization. If you want to keep morale strong and hope alive, be a leader with a strong attitude. The impact of your strong attitude will prepare you for the long haul. No one knows how long this pandemic will last, but a strong attitude is essential to beat it. Be the leader who brings hope to your people. Begin with the right attitude.
Lead with empathy and compassion
Before this pandemic is over, most of us will be touched directly or indirectly by COVID-19. Your empathy and compassion as a leader are needed now more than ever and this is the time to step up and help those in your care. Your leadership will be defined by the empathy you show and the compassion you mobilize. Let’s be all about bringing hope and healing to those around us.
Lead with the end in mind
When this pandemic is over, many people will be walking back into their places of business and familiar surroundings. But it will not be the same. Just as many have had to learn how to adjust to new ways of doing things while working remotely, new adjustments will be made upon return to the office. A wise leader looks ahead and
knows how to think long-term for the good of the people.
In these uncertain times, people need the assurance of proven leadership. The people in your sphere of influence need you. Be the leader they can look to who is steady under pressure. Be an influencer of hope. Above all else, keep the faith. We will get through this together.
©2020 Doug Dickerson