Back in November last year when Donald Trump was being impeached, I was on a learning journey bringing art and leadership together in both my writing and drawing. My drawings are intended as a way for me to listening to the narrative from both sides, and then to contemplate and present the subject in a different way. This metaphorical interpretation is meant to encourage a deeper exploration of what was really happening, and how it was possible that politics in America had inspired so many satirical night shows.
To be fair, comedians like Trevor Noah, Seth Myers, Samantha Bee, Saturday Night Live etc are extremely funny, and clearly very smart. They saw and said things that politicians and journalists either couldn’t or wouldn’t say. I found myself seeking out the source of their material more and more. The unbelievable obsession with celebrity in the US ( and globally) had given momentum to something that should never have been given the oxygen it needed to grow.
I got 13 drawings in, and inspiration dried up. The sheer severity of the calamity of what was unfolding in the US and the lack of leadership from the top sucked the creativity right out from under me. All I can do these days is sit and shake my head. What is even more terrifying is the permeation of this absurdity across so many levels and the realization that the enablers in congress had lost contact with their public purpose a long time ago. This global pandemic amplified this point and it seemed incredulous that it could be contemplated that the lives of the elderly and infirm are of less value than others. As if filling the hospitals with Covid-19 patients won’t impact on us catastrophically eventually when the nurses and doctors die unnecessarily.
3-5 years from now the leadership books will be pumping out the “How to” “How not to” “Lessons learnt” etc. Academic scholars will dissect the trajectory of this pandemic and white papers will tell us how we “should have could have” done it. There is a simple reality though, very few people were really ready and as a global community, we hiccuped, coughed and then pretty much chucked.
In among the worlds’ tremors and rigors are some truly inspiring people leaders, a number of them on our doorstep and showing us just how to roll in our egos, roll up our sleeves and start caring about us all.
There are many good ways for leaders to take charge in dire situations and bring the collective strength of a team into play. It’s likely, given that no one really has been left untouched by the lock-down, that things are not currently great for a lot of people or organisations. We could say with hindsight, there are probably choices made that if they had been different would have yielded a different outcome to our current position. However, we are where we are and the future lies ahead of us, not in our review mirror. These are 2 things I have learnt from the satires playing out on Youtube each night.
- You need to stop the blame game
- You need to be responsible for each person at your table
It’s time to reframe the blame: There is a fantastic book on leadership that I am currently reading “Leadership Team Coaching” by Peter Hawkins. In this book he refers to reframing the blame. A great example of this would be instead of saying “ you haven’t supplied any of the test kits” is to say, “ I need you to supply the test kits so that we can…” You reframe blame as a request and then you get confirmation that the request is heard and accepted. It takes the blame and shame out the game. Neither of these are important in leveraging your collective strength.
No matter who you are, choose to be responsible for each person at the table. For a team to leverage its full power, the individuals in the team need to each recognise that they need to leverage their strengths for the benefit of the team and not the individual. In being accountable to the results, there is no place for status or ego at the leadership table.
I am feeling optimistic about our future. New Zealand has some outstanding leadership and it makes me grateful and happy that I live in this corner of the world.
Game on world!