Ralph Profitt | May 19, 2020

This is an edited news article originally written and taken from the May 2020 issue of Fortune magazine titled: "Special Report - The Coronavirus Economy" .

The challenging circumstances we are now enduring is going to make for many new and different dramatic changes that will test our leadership abilities in all aspects of our society.   We are going to want and need those who are bold and courageous enough to step up and tell us what we truthfully need to know -- not necessarily what we might want to hear in these troubling times of dreadful fear, sorrow, isolation, worries, concerns, and uncertainties.

A time for clear and accurate information, and honest assessments of what is occurring, and needed plans, thoughts, and efforts being made to deal with our confrontations; leveraging one perilous problem or opportunity against the ramifications and uncertainties of other dilemmas. Unfortunately, there appears a maddening array of possibilities and imponderables that will test the limits of all elements of bold leadership positioning: Of which, hopefully, maybe, some of the following few principles may help and apply.

1. We want and need guidance, which can more often be accomplished if credible leadership is visibly in charge and reasonably transparent about what they are doing. In many, if not most, historic crises there is a need for a projected sense of purpose and direction -- determining where we are, how, and where we hope to be.

And here is the interesting part: Leaders must become the vicarious embodiment of others, in personally sharing our burdens and feeling our pain for all or most of our pent up emotions and mixed feelings of worried apprehensions -- presumably thinking good leadership has the power and abilities to do more than what we may not normally be able to do for ourselves. That is what the duty of leadership is all about:   A reflection of competent actions being taken so others can rest and sleep while one leads.   It is being responsibly in charge, and visibly out in the forefront of actively; dealing with formidable tasks and challenges before us.

2. Be decisive:   in a crisis.
Even those who may normally have strong disagreements with each other:   Need to often unite in singular purposes in dealing with new or different realities that may force implementing major decisions, choices, and changes that have to be made quickly: For the greater needs, benefits, and interests of all concerned; knowing that it may sometimes be harder and more difficult to understand and bear by those adversely affected.   In such momentous times, there is often little or no time for extended debating, delaying, or favoring vested disagreements.

One must act, and act quickly.
One can second guess and maybe argue the results later, but not when there is an ongoing, presently, uncontrolled raging fire of some chaos of disorder and confusion that has to be controlled and dealt with immediately.   Unfortunately, sometimes such leadership decisions have to be made with little or no complete information, data, or other pertinent details readily available; when an immediate or potentially looming crisis is developing, and the resulting problem, consequences, and conditions will be far worse if a prompt response is not rendered at all.   Stakes may be high, but decisions have to be made. There's no time for waiting and blindly hoping some impending catastrophe will go away.

3. Define reality and give hope.
Be honest, open, creditable, and believable. People generally yearn and hunger for the uncontrived truth; no matter how hard that may be to swallow, and deal with it. They can usually and often quickly detect outright lies, distortions, fabrications, and deliberate evasions for the deceitful deceptions indented.
As Abraham Lincoln once wisely said: "you can fool some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Looming threatening news in any crisis is never pleasant. That is why the art of vital frank and open leadership is so important -- as spoken by Winston Churchill; when initially addressing his new cabinet officers on May 13th, 1940, immediately after becoming their new Prime Minister, during one of England's darkest hours, Churchill boldly proclaimed:
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

Courageously identifying, outlining and framing a threatening development as a challenge that requires and must have an effective prompt response -- not as some perceived awesome disaster that is in evasive hiding and must forever be endured.   Effective leadership must always try and offer sincere reasons for hope -- no matter how dark the present may seem.   We cannot always change the past, but with grit, courage, and determination, we can affect and plan for a better future.

Being a leader is never easy. It can sometimes be a lonely difficult responsibility -- being a majority of one -- making choices, decisions, judgments, and recommendations the effects of which not only worry you, but can subsequently affect so many others who may not necessarily understand nor particularly agree with your handling at the time:   But that goes with the position.   A good leader has to do what they believe is right -- no matter what the consequences.
Another Lincoln quote: "I do the very best I know how -- the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end.   If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything.   If the end may bring me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

A good responsible leader cannot always burden themselves among all their many other consuming tasks and situations with worrying about any changing levels of their own personal popularity with others. For what is right may not always be popular -- nor what is popular may not always be right. That is how a valued respected leadership helps us to make and decide important differences. It is why choosing good leaders is so very vital and necessary in the ever changing intensity and scope of things.
Let us hope and pray we always try to choose wisely. For the future will reflect our choices, and history will be the judge.


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