March 23, 2020
A Word to Leaders Everywhere …
Winter is coming.
Game of Thrones’ fans will recognize the motto of House Stark, one of the Great Houses of Westeros. The meaning behind the mantra is one of warning and constant vigilance. As the lords of the North, the Starks strove to be prepared for the coming winter, which hit their lands the hardest.
Let’s face it. Winter is here. As leaders struggle to adjust to the COVID-19 crisis, it remains difficult to foresee what the future holds. The one that’s certain is that the game has changed. It’s time for a new playbook…
My mentor Jim Herrington recently posted a great article called Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup. The authors present a very interesting analogy that is worthy of our time and consideration.
Here’s an excerpt that summarizes their thoughts.
“The novel coronavirus is not just something for leaders to “get through” for a few days or weeks. Instead, we need to treat COVID-19 as an economic and cultural blizzard, winter, and beginning of a “little ice age” — a once-in-a-lifetime change that is likely to affect our lives and organizations for years.
Due to the complex and interconnected nature of our society and economy, the majority of businesses and nonprofits are “effectively out of business” as of today, in that the underlying assumptions that sustained their organization are no longer true.
The priority of leaders must be to set aside confidence in their current playbook as quickly as possible, write a new one that honors their mission and the communities they serve, and make the most of their organization’s assets — their people, financial capital, and social capital, leaning on relationship and trust…”
As the essay states, this crisis is not simply a blizzard to take shelter from, but a winter season that’s expected to last for several months. This long winter may very well lead to a short ice-age that reshapes our reality in countless ways. It’s unclear how long it will take for things to thaw and return to normal… In some cases, our current definition of normal may be altered forever.
So what’s a leader to do? In these unprecedented times, here a few things to consider.
Let caution inform you.
Let courage move you.
Let compassion guide you.
Let community strengthen you.
Let continuity focus you.
Let creativity reinvent you.
This is a season of unparalleled turmoil AND opportunity. To say that the days and months ahead will be challenging is an understatement. What emerges when spring arrives – and more importantly, WHO emerges – depends on our response.
Here’s to all the courageous ones. Your time is now.