When it comes to business, there is one thing I hope to never get back…the ideal of the infallible leader.
I think over the years, in some ways, business has become a little less formal. Happily workplaces got rid of their suits and ties. Most of us embraced the “casual Fridays” and some even went as far as putting foosball tables and napping pods into play. There has been this evolving understanding that business doesn’t need to be stuffy, in order to get business done.
Fast forward to 2020. The year of Covid hair, the ultra-casual comfy and the ever present online meetings where inevitably someone is challenged with some sort of technology glitch or muted participant scrambling to find their mute button. If we look at ourselves, from outside, I think we could agree most of us are kind of a mess, (especially if we compare ourselves to a year ago).
I think we would also likely agree none of us would ever want to see a repeat of this year, anytime in the future. But I do believe all this craziness has allowed us to take off the masks of leadership and to let people see each other as what we are first…people.
Leaders and leadership had become this idea of needing to have all the answers, in needing to set the perfect course, in portraying that assured and composed image. But how do you do this, when there is nothing that any longer represents a world you can be sure of.?
The simple answer is, you access the skills and knowledge of the people around you.
As crazy as this year has been, when it comes to business, there has been some good things (not to downplay any of the bad). We all likely know or know of business people we never knew before. We have expanded our networks and recognized resources, we didn’t know existed. We have all shared our ideas and tricks about how to solve challenges and now clearly understand the impact a bigger portion of our world has on the businesses we run.
We have learned to laugh at ourselves (as we look in the mirror, with our out of control hair and attend those formal meetings in our sweatpants), we have had to admit we don’t always have an answer (right or wrong…who could tell) and we have shifted our beliefs about what is truly important (our families, our health and our need for social connection). But on top of all that, we have given ourselves permission to make mistakes.
When you deal with a once in a lifetime event, there is no rule book. In the months and years to come, critics of all types will dissect the actions of today and they will place blame and accolades where they may. In the end, as a world, a majority will get through this and twenty years from now, this will feel a lot like 911. An event, our children will tell their children about.
This event has and will have an impact on all of us, and will fashion our beliefs going forward. There will be things that go back to the way they were and there will be far more, that will be changed forever. If there is one thing I hope we bring with us, it is the understanding that there is no playbook, that there is no one answer and that when we are fallible, it brings rise to coming together.
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