After the Great Pause — Leadership

Hope comes from seeing your leader lead in a way that brings out the best in people by inspiring collaboration, common purpose and future possibilities. It takes hope to overcome great fear and meet great challenges.

DS: The strongest local leaders will be the ones who collaborate with others and, at the same time, are exceptionally clear about their plans, brutally honest about the risks, utterly specific about the behaviors they’re asking of us, constantly searching the world for best practices and totally transparent about the technologies and data they want to collect to track our movements and contacts.

They’ll also be the leaders who go to extremes to protect those among us who are vulnerable and support those among us who are risking their lives so everyone else can get back to theirs.

TF: This virus has triggered a global pause. You once remarked to me: “When you press the pause button on a computer, it stops. But when you press the pause button on a human being, they start — that’s when they begin to rethink and reimagine.” Is this such a moment?

DS: In the pause we have the opportunity to reflect on all that this tragic pandemic is revealing about ourselves and our society. A pause can lead to a new beginning, to a reimagination of how we want to live differently — less unhealthily and less unequally — in the future.

For instance, the line between the public and private sectors is being blurred. We will never look the same at the role that government can play in our lives after seeing government — in a capitalist economy, no less — spend $2 trillion rescuing businesses and sending the most vulnerable checks, practically overnight.

At the same time, after so many businesses put people ahead of their profits during this crisis, I hope many will see the wisdom of putting humanity at the center of their businesses in the future, too, with greater benefits for workers, the community and shareholders. For global business leaders, this means creating supply chains that are not just about speed and efficiency but about resilience and integrity.

In other words, after this health crisis is over, good leaders will pivot.

TF: What do you mean “pivot”?

DS: A pivot, as in basketball, is a very deliberate action where I put one foot solidly in place and I then move the other foot in a better direction. In a political leader’s case, in a company leader’s case, in an education leader’s case, that pivot will be anchored, hopefully, in deep human values — and then move in the new directions we’ll need in a post-pandemic world, where people’s expectations will have fundamentally changed.

— Dov Seidman founder and chairman of the How Institute for Society

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