Developing-Leaders-Issue-35-Summer-2020

4 | Developing Leaders Issue 35: 2020 Martin Luther King, a man whose stature and thinking has been brought back centre-stage in recent months, wrote in his 1963 book, Strength to Love: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. This year has not followed the playbook written for it; it will be a year for the history books, one of many unexpected ‘challenges and controversies’. Dr King continued “the true neighbour will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.” This is a year that both needs great leadership and provides the opportunity for it. What has been evident is that many who carry the clear roles of leaders have come up short, but amongst the mass of the population this neighbourliness has abounded. The heroic and selfless work of doctors and carers, the innovative businesses that quickly adapted to meet the needs for PPE and sanitisers, the willingness of the majority to lockdown. The Covid-19 crisis has brought the many diverse aspects of leadership into the spotlight. The ability to make quick – and sensible – decisions, and to communicate them clearly and empathetically. The willingness to act, in a crisis, on behalf of everyone for the common good, not just for ‘your team’. Understanding that often short-term sacrifice pays long-lasting dividends. It has also seen how amazingly adaptable people are, the extraordinary shift to working-from-home, and how resilient we, as a species, are to change after all. Just as we thought we were getting used to becoming more community-oriented, the Black Lives Matter protest stormed into activity following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, refocusing our sights on the inequalities that still abound in society, and heightening awareness EDITOR’s LETTER Leadership for Times of Challenge and Controversy that the generous majority being lauded for its Covid-19 response, often remains unaware of the biases perpetrated unwittingly on minority groups. This all reinforces that fact that leadership matters too, and the requirement to develop good leadership practice is always with us. Unlike with natural sciences, where each generation can benefit from the discoveries of those who have gone before them, for us humans we are still essentially cave-dwellers who are instinctively programmed to look after ourselves and our immediate neighbours. It takes lots of awareness and even more practice to overcome these biases in a way that is useful in the complex and fast- moving 21st century, and also an appreciation that good leaders need to be sensitive to the emotional drivers that run us as humans (and that those emotions are little changed from cave-dwelling times). In this issue we highlight the adaptability of the business-schools themselves that have pivoted their provision in extraordinary short order; Oxford Saïd’s focus on solutions; the astonishing success of British Columbia’s reaction to the pandemic under the very human leadership of Dr Bonnie Henry; and Rotman’s Nouman Ashraf on a post-pandemic leadership approach; Susanne Jacobs on building organizations fit for humans; and much else. As always we love to hear from you with your thoughts, reflections and ideas, please get in touch on editor@iedp.com Roddy Millar | Editorial Director

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