At some point, we are all called to be leaders
Last week, Gareth Southgate sent an open letter to all football fans. It was before the total lockdown in the UK, but he was speaking about the changes to our lives and saying that we must all step forward to embody the best of behaviours and to support each other through these difficult times.
Most evenings, we watch the Prime Minister, or one of the key members of the Cabinet, briefing us on the latest events and figures. They are flanked by a couple of our highly respected experts, either from the scientific or medical side, giving new evidence and advice. These are the leaders that we are seeing in charge of the crisis on a day-to-day basis. Of course, we know that they are backed by groups of analysts, scientists and doctors who are highly educated and skilled in epidemiology.
Gareth Southgate is putting us all in the position of being leaders. Everyone can play a part in helping our families, communities and country survive this global pandemic of Coronavirus Covid-19. It has been really interesting to watch how individuals, sometimes the most unexpected people, have stepped forward and taken initiatives to help others and come up with ideas for supporting those in isolation, particularly with their mental health.
A particularly affected group are parents of small children, who may find themselves trying to work at home and juggling this with childcare and home schooling. Joe Wicks, the health coach, has taken the initiative to put together a daily 9am workout for small children, not only to keep them busy for a while, but also to keep them moving, so that, whilst having their world restricted to a few hundred feet, they don’t succumb to inactivity and poor health. And even more anonymously, we hear about all sorts of shop owners in towns and villages putting together care packages for vulnerable people who can’t get out to take care of themselves.
This concept of Distributed or Shared leadership is well known in the academic world, and is something that we recommend to organisations in order to get the best out of the talent they have available. Here we are seeing this on a national scale. Not only are we seeing leadership being shared or distributed to people who have a particular expertise in communication, or health, or even compassion, but also it is an example of Servant Leadership. These people are not doing this for personal glory; they simply want to help others who can’t help themselves. Servant leadership enables others to do what they need to do best and not expect anything in return.
As communities we need this to thrive to get through this crisis, so thanks to all of those people stepping forward. What about when all of this is finally over? Will people remember to lead and not expect glory, or wealth in return? Will we behave more compassionately as a society? I hope that we do. People like Gareth Southgate and Joe Wicks are spreading a powerful message to us all. Let’s hope that message becomes as widespread as the virus that has brought us all here.