Apr 16, 2020

Human Leadership

In the days since I wrote "Navigating the Leadership Challenge in these Unprecedented Times" I've had so many emails and calls sharing stories of good, bad and sadly, incredibly awful leadership. As an executive coach, seeking role models to share with my clients, I am collating a rich source of data; more good than bad I'm pleased to say.

It doesn't excuse the bad. High profile brands who know better than such treatment of their people. I don't recall seeing that in their brand values. Issues of reputational risk will haunt them for some time to come.

Agreed, there are no tried and tested procedures for leading in our first global pandemic. But crisis sure reveals character.

Two leadership role models have been beacons of light for me this week, both called Richard. From very different sectors, each committed to great leadership, human leadership, cultivating the courage, compassion and connection we need from our leaders right now.

Who could fail to be moved by the photograph of Professor Richard Schilling, deputy director for the Nightingale hospital in London standing at the door waiting for the first patient? Sharing his thoughts he says this was both sad and moving and he wishes they didn't have to be there. Embracing his vulnerability even more after receiving messages thanking everyone and 'confessing he couldn't reply to thank everyone as he was embarrassed to say he doesn't know how to use Twitter'.

No act there, not behaving like he knows it all, recognising his strengths saving lives and giving hope to his patients, their families and all of London.

And onto Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland the food retailer, having the courage in the national press to call out the middle class privilege of panic buying and stockpiling. Walker calls it a 'social injustice' as his customers are of a lower demographic in towns that have deprivation; 'they don't waste a penny'. He goes on to describe them as the real experts in making their food go further. He's human, he's authentic and he's resolute that his job is to do everything he can to make sure his staff are safe, putting them 'above sales and even customer needs'.

Like Professor Richard Schilling, Richard Walker has absolute clarity on why he's doing this. Iceland's immediate role in this crisis - they're helping to feed the nation.

Impactful lessons from leaders who have the courage to be human during tough times, leading us through the uncertainty despite their own worry and fears.

For more insights on the leadership challenges in navigating the current climate do please take a read:

Navigating the leadership challenge in these unprecedented times