Sometimes Leadership is Just About Being There…
Have you ever thought about what it means to just be there and lead?
I spent the recent weekend in lockdown due to a little COVID outbreak. During this time, a colleague of mine was having an extremely difficult time in the district they manage outside the lockdown zone. Although people in these communities had left the lockdown region and returned home before it was put into place, the State Government backdated the time it took effect due to contact tracing unveiling the movements of those with the virus.
A key issue was whether to cancel a key event or not in the district concerned, as many community members were in the lockdown zone at the backdated time and in the hotspot areas. Another corresponding issue was that staff had been to the exposure sites and would see the key administration office closed. I was asked advice on these matters continuously throughout the 72 hours. Not that I have a problem with that, because it is part of what I do.
When leaders struggle, and they do, others have to step up to the plate and become leaders themselves. How do you do that I hear you ask?
It’s simple really. Just be there and listen. Most times that is what a person needs, regardless of who you are. Just listen. And if you are asked for advice, then give it. Remember though, do it in a constructive manner.
Being there can mean a range of things of course: in person, over the phone, video-conferencing, emailing and even texting.
In my case, I couldn’t be there in person, but I was on the end of the phone, and responding to texts and emails during that whole time. I had to give some very tough advice: cancel the community event, close the office until further notice and move key meetings back. Each one of these decisions, despite COVID, invites a level of criticism that is unwarranted. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. A responsible leader knows this: the safety of all is paramount regardless of what others say. It was a stressful time. And it’s not over, but hopefully all is well.
You can be a leader by just being there, Your presence provides reassurance, remember that!