From a room called fear to a room called hope: A leadership agenda for troubled times

Leadership matters most—and is hardest to do well—when people face objective threats, when old ways of working are no longer possible, and when confusion and anxiety abound. These are brutal and relentless facts of organizational life for tens of thousands of leaders who feel heightened responsibility for billions of people as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

We offer a modest agenda to help such leaders. We contend that a leader’s job during the COVID-19 crisis and other trying times is to stop a disaster from turning into catastrophe. Disasters such as earthquakes, storms, pandemics, and financial meltdowns will always be with us and will always harm people and create economic hardship. As sociologist Lowell Juilliard Carr wrote in 1932, “the collapse of the cultural protections” that sometimes follow is what constitutes a catastrophe. The ability to bounce back and move forward evaporates when people freeze up and freak out—and when they lose trust and faith in one another, in leaders, and in rules, laws, and informal social agreements.

Leadership during trying times requires building cultural and psychological protections for employees. One key for creating such safeguards is holding oneself personally accountable for decisions, others’ well-being, and organizational performance. Another is using compassionate words and deeds to dampen the damage inflicted by the crisis at hand and to conserve, fuel, and direct the willpower and energy of the people you depend on and who depend on you. Leaders who do these things well create passageways that help people travel from a room called fear to a room called hope. Skilled leaders also sustain that hope by building cultures that are flexible, that celebrate individuality, and that enable employees to be their best selves at work.

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Πηγή: mckinsey

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