In Times Like These…

April 08, 2020 Share this article:

By Dale Jones, AltoPartners Global Operating Committee Member and Chief Executive Officer of Diversified Search

This blog was first posted the Diversified Search “The Search Engine” blog. Read the original version here

As we continue to push our way against the headwinds of disease and economic frailty, we must remain focused on what matters most.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light — Aristotle

My dear friend Joel Manby, a seasoned leader who himself has had to lead companies during times of great crisis, reminds us that the word “chaos” comes from the Greek word “khaos”: It references, he wrote recently, “the space between heaven and earth. What opportunity awaits us! From chaos we get to fill the gap … We have the choice to lean into the fears, worries, and doubts during this time of uncertainty, or we have the choice to offer peace, serenity, and refuge to those around us.”

We know what good leadership looks like in times like these (in other words, chaotic times). It’s the same as good leadership looks anytime: it is exemplified by strength, decisiveness, an openness to new ideas, fearlessness, calm, and above all, open communication, honesty, and empathy. It is our servant leaders — our doctors and nurses, those caring for the elderly and the vulnerable, and those stepping up to offer security to workers whose lives have been upended by the sudden economic downturn—who are showing what great leadership looks like, leading the way during the coronavirus pandemic.

But we cannot do it alone. We must be there for one another and also be willing to lean on one another, to be unafraid to ask for help and strength from other people and other sources. The author of the poem and song In Times Like These urges everyone to have an anchor or a solid rock to hold onto. Your rock might be faith, family, friends, or the community of colleagues at work and school. Or it might be mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or prayer. Because of social distancing and self-quarantines, our most treasured anchors may seem distant. However, we must lean into the relationships and rituals that make us better and stronger against the headwinds. As the song concludes, “Be very sure/be very sure/your anchor holds and grips the solid rock.”

We all must find our own anchors, our own solid rocks. But we must also help others find theirs, especially in a time of national and global crisis such as this. That’s what real leadership is. We are all living through a time when the world needs humanity, in the truest sense of the word.

I leave you with more wise words that are not my own. They are from St. Augustine, and I think they are very much needed in this moment: “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”

May we all do what we can—and must—to see what love looks like in this moment.

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