In a divided culture, a leader must tread carefully. Someone serving as a leader during this COVID pandemic must first and foremost exhibit “objective wisdom“. He or she must be slow to speak and quick to listen- always seeking understanding and applying it rightly. Additionally, he must not be held captive and swayed by extreme viewpoints that further feed distrust, animosity, and polarity, creating a disoriented relationship between a leader and the community looking to them.
Secondly, a leader must be humble. One cannot expect to be right at all times, especially when medical news and understanding of COVID-19 are constantly changing. A leader must always be quick to allow others to challenge their beliefs and/or positions. Failure to do this increases the likelihood of “Group Think” and allows potential problems to remain hidden. Though this be dependant upon vulnerability, this should not be seen as a weakness or hindrance in leadership. Which leads me to the third point.
Thirdly, a leader must be able to, when necessary, be vulnerable. The simple act of admitting to your mistakes, or when appropriate, being open about your struggles in the workplace and/or life is essential to fostering a successful culture. In his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets Of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle writes, “Normally, we think about trust and vulnerability the way we think about standing on solid ground and leaping into the unknown: first we build trust, then we leap. But science is showing us that we’ve got it backward. Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust- it precedes it.”
Consider your closest neighbors–some of us go decades before we can really say we “trust” and “know” our neighbors–but go on a skydiving endeavor with them and you’ll find that the shared vulnerability of fear, anticipation, and risk, will far sooner lead to trust in one another than a multitude of years living on the same street.
It is with similar observations and Coyle’s years of research that he goes on to state, “Exchanges of vulnerability, which we naturally tend to avoid, are the pathway through which trusting cooperation is built.”
Last, but not least, a leader must have integrity. Half the difficulty during this pandemic is knowing who and what to trust. The lack of integrity has been seen within news stations, medical authorities, political leaders, and more. Who we trust affects what we believe and what we believe affects how we live- therefore making integrity of the utmost importance. We need a revival of character, and true leaders will–and should–lead out in this.
Objective wisdom, humility, vulnerability, and integrity- the absence of these 4 characteristics in a leader, will greatly hinder any and all meaningful and intentional leadership.