27 Apr 2020 at 13:40 #28185Colin DonianKeymaster
Leadership in the time of COVID-19: Part III: Influential Leadership or Revolution?
“Coronavirus pandemic may sow the seeds of political revolutions as lockdowns drag on and food supply chains are tested.”
[Image. A man is questioned by an SANDF patrol after his corner shop was found open in Eldorado Park. It came under a nationwide lockdown on March 27, joining other African countries imposing strict curfews and shutdowns to halt the spread of COVID-19. Photo: AFP. From SCMP. 27 April 2020]
Part I of Leadership in the time of COVID-19 advocates that COVID-19 offers us a once-in-a-forever leadership moment to reflect, digest, recalibrate and re-start all the social constructs that we have created, right down to the way we live our lives.
Part II of Leadership in the time of COVID-19: Leadership is the big deal, argues why influential leadership is the essential ingredient in our response to, and resolving of the COVID-19 leadership moment.
Part III of Leadership in the time of COVID-19: Influential Leadership or Revolution? is a commentary on an article published by the South China Morning Post on 27 April 2020, authored by Daniel Wagner. The article opens with the above photograph refencing the South African COVID-19 situation, so it is particularly apt.
Then, to add grist to the mill, there was another headline on the same day in RT: Annual global military spending hits highest point in a decade. In 2019 the global spend on weapons and ways to kill each other was R36 Trillion (almost US$2 Trillion. SIPRI). That amount is equivalent to R4,670 per person for the 7.7 billion Earthlings. For the sake of emphasis let’s do all the digits here: R36 Trillion is 36 with 12 zeros, or R36,000,000,000,000.
As an aside, the USA spends by far the most – as much as the next ten countries together.
Has it saved the USA from COVID-19? In principle, has this money protected any of us from the pathogen?
Taken together, these two headlines ask some tough questions about our economic, political, and social systems, the choices that have been made at leadership moments, and whether we have influential Leaders at the helm to get us out of this pickle.
If not, the revolution is coming down the track – sooner or later. Now is the time to make the right decisions with planned systemic changes.
We cannot rearrange the deck chairs, again.
From Fissures to Famine and Revolution
Daniel Wagner, rightfully says in his opening paragraphs that:
Among the plethora of risks the global economy is experiencing as a result of COVID-19, the potential for rising social and political unrest is lurking just beneath the surface…
…as the virus spreads rapidly through more nations, civil disobedience and associated violence is becoming a greater concern.
It is clear to many observers that the long-standing economic, political, and social fissures across the globe, and within countries and communities, are being accentuated by COVID-19. This could be the ember that lights the fire of disadvantage, discontent, exclusion, hopelessness, and hunger.
At another place and time, the government and some of the revolutionaries themselves believed “the revolution” would not happen in their lifetime. It was 8 March 1917. Russia.
Hungry crowds in Petrograd overthrew the Tsar. The rest is also history.
One of those revolutionaries (Lenin) aptly noted that:
No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.
The second piece of news I refer to highlights the fundamental absence of proper leadership and the reign of misleaders and unleaders and societal indifference.
There is no more argument about the “guns or butter (bread)” question any longer; it belongs to the old world. There are no persuasive merits for spending so much on ways to wage wars as a solution to our existential well-being. Also, the costs of developing and prosecuting wars are not just measured in the direct costs. There are even bigger issues such as the cultures we create for problem solving and the opportunity costs of human capital employed for weapons design rather than human well-being design.
EDIT (28Apr20): I came across another insightful article on Deutsche Welle (DW) this morning that deals with poor decision-making by ‘people in charge’ (not leaders, they are not leaders) regarding preparations for war with other people, rather than preparing for war against a virus. Miodrag Soric’s article, Weapons don’t fight pandemics, reinforces the fact that misleaders abound.
Soric’s article has a heading that captures the realities of getting the “guns and healthcare” trade-off so wrong. Mighty armies, underfunded health care systems. We have enough weapons of war to kill the world, but insufficient medical capability to save the ill.
Let us not dwell too long on our past poor decision-making and lack of influential leadership, or our current mess.
Let us do what influential Leaders would do.
Influential Leaders craft the right outcomes through the right behaviour at the right time for the right people! The way they do this is, amongst others, to filter leadership moments through the following set of leadership attributes:
- Be self-aware. First understand the problem, how all of us fit into it and then design a solution.
- Be courageous, go further than you are comfortable with, if you do not, then you have not gone at all. Big challenges are not solved by little moves.
- Be hopeful, both internally and externally. Leaders are dealers in hope, as Napoleon Bonaparte apply advises.
- Be principled or we shall be expedient again and pay the cost later.
- Be purposeful and relentless in solution making and execution.
- Be questioning and apply critical thinking so that even the deepest beliefs, customs, and practices are turned over.
- Be strategic so that solutions and outcomes are inclusive, enduring, and sustainable for the long term.
- Be thoughtful, in the cerebral form.
The new order of things – economically, politically, and socially – must be considered, designed, and implemented so that we do not have an old-style revolution that has seldom if ever served humanity well. If the process and the outcomes do not serve us all better; change will come on the streets at some point, and that kind of change will not be productive for any of us.
COVID-19 offers us a choice. We can do things the old ways by re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, or we can do it a better, smarter way, the influential leadership way.
Influential Leaders go first.
Note: You may download the article here: Part III
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.