• Vensy

Where is the leadership?

It is already beginning to look like a routine is taking shape for me.

Talking to stressed-out clients, working on ideas for new campaigns, eating home-made meals and snacks, continuously monitoring team productivity levels, working long hours, and reading books afterward, late into the night.

It isn’t a routine, and I miss my gym and yoga and early mornings, but I don’t terribly mind it given the circumstances. However, I will attempt to go back to early mornings and my Yoga practice soon. With every sentence I write here, I realize how incredibly privileged I am to have these as my primary concerns as the world begins to shut down and the end of normalcy begins.

Today, the New York Times became one of the first major publications to write a piece on the big picture. What does a global phenomenon of this size mean for social order, jobs, and our daily life? They attempted to answer these questions while recognizing that the world will never be the same in the wake of the pandemic. In the piece, Thomas L. Friedman wrote about a new historical divide, B.C, Before Corona, and A.C., After Corona. I liked the piece for precisely its attempt at the long-term view that is easily forgotten in these troubled times. The truth is that any event that rattles up the world sufficiently leaves a wide range of consequences that echo for a long, long time. While we prepare for a battle, we also need to remember to plan for the endgame.

Another article I liked reading today was Mark Ritson’s take, published on Marketing Week. I couldn’t have said it better than he did: “…I am struck once again with how the myopic requirements of everyday life obscure the gargantuan shit that drops from the sky on a seemingly daily basis”. His lament on the lack of leadership in these strange and isolated times also articulates perfectly the dread I feel in my heart as I look at the destruction of a relatively peaceful era and the creation of a new reality. Where is the leadership, indeed.

“Every day on LinkedIn some half-wit in a tank top is sharing their view of leadership as…empathy…emotional intelligence…social influence…charisma…generosity. These soft scholars make leadership sound like a support group rather than the pointy, lonely, obtuse reality it once was and in reality always will be. Here is what leadership is. It’s making the best possible decision and then sticking to it. Fuck empathy. And fuck emotional intelligence too. What we are clearly currently missing in our government and across most of the dithering organisations in this country are people that make a call and then direct everyone to follow it accordingly.”

While (peace-time) management might have the features of empathy and emotional intelligence, I believe that leadership requires altogether different traits. Courage, conviction, but most importantly, taking quick calls and rallying people to follow them. This is the only kind of leadership that is acceptable in the wake of a global calamity that has no end in sight.

We need leaders who can shape this new world we are going to enter at the end of this year.

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