There has never been a more important time for leadership – not the job title – the act of leadership and the positive actions of those who rise to the occasion. It is human nature for the vast majority of people to look to a person or persons to show the way, to set the tone, to be honest and to give hope through action. Each day brings more grave predictions for what is to come and in the midst of this we receive mixed messages from those who either hold the title of leader or exhibit leadership qualities through their actions. Whom do we trust – whom should we listen to and follow?
There are people who selflessly step up and do what they believe is right, even in the absence of real leadership. Those doctors, nurses, healthcare staff members, first responders, firefighters and police, utility workers, and yes – grocery store employees who respond to their designation as “essential workers” – and put themselves in harms way to help others. At the same time – they crave leadership direction. A few governors are doing the right thing and filling the leadership void with frank, honest, organized, and consistent messages and we clamor to listen to them as we do those epidemiologists and virologists who have the historical credibility to tell it like it is, but we still feel a bit lost and confused as overall consistent leadership lags behind the curve.
Restaurant workers are typically people who rise to the occasion and respond to a need. Whenever there is a crisis – food service workers and restaurant owners start the conversation with: “What can we do?” This willingness is our nature, this is hospitality during crisis – it happens with hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, and floods – we can count on it. When people in crisis need to be fed – the restaurant industry responds without giving thought to the cost or even the danger – this is what we do.
We are in a crisis situation that could never have been imagined. It is a crisis that impacts everyone throughout the world. Everything else has disappeared from the world dialogue. We no longer talk about differences between world leaders, oil prices, pockets of terrorism, the pending presidential election, or other “breaking news” scenarios that filled the news cycle just a few weeks ago. Today we are unified in our common fear of an invisible enemy that threatens human survival, world economies, and the stability of governments. This is our common mission – to survive and defeat this invisible enemy.
When we see giants of leadership rise up, we breathe deeper, and even foster a smile knowing that someone is showing us the way. Who would predict that a chef, a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, a computer geek and philanthropist, and even average Americans with sewing machines would become the leaders that we need. Each one of us, especially those who have positions of authority can step up and fill the leadership void. This is a call to arms – a call to those who can take on the role that they should. Business owners, chefs, social media managers, writers, musicians, and others with a voice can be the strength that America and the world need right now.
Tell the truth; help people to understand their role, give opportunities for the average person to make a difference, unify, communicate effectively, and set the example for others to follow. Sometimes leaders rise out of necessity – they may not be appointed, elected, or hired to take on this role – they just know that it is what is required.
Here are a few that give me hope:
Jose Andres – chef extraordinaire and exemplary humanitarian:
James Dyson – inventor and vacuum cleaner designer:
Bill and Melinda Gates – one of the original computer geeks/entrepreneurs and incredible humanitarian:
Certainly we need sufficient personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers, more hospital beds, additional doctors and nurses, ventilators, and a population willing to isolate themselves to reduce the spread, but at the top of the list is a dire need for real leadership in all areas to coordinate and drive this effort, to set the example and tell the truth, to bring us all together and make it clear what we can all do to help. It might very well be that the most important thing we can do is to stay put and flatten the curve of infection.
PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER
Look to those in leadership roles- step up if you can -do your part
Harvest America Ventures, LLC