Years from now, we will share stories about this time. About the seizing, sinking feeling of being in over our heads. About the meteoric impact COVID-19 has had on the landscape of our organizations, the communities our organizations serve, our teams. How it has ruptured the bedrock — the core — of the way we experience our own leadership. I don’t know how my experience of the last three weeks maps over yours, but I would like to.
That’s how I started a letter to our clients early in April, when the pandemic was still new. We were scrambling to do something that in a country like Canada we are not used to doing — adapting at pace. At Roy Group, we were trying to catch our sinking hearts as the cancellations rolled across our inboxes. And George Floyd was still alive. Little did we know that the rupturing bedrock had only just begun.
How things have changed in the intervening months. Pretty sure I’m speaking for the South Island’s entire business community when I say we’ve all been asked to step forward into new ways of leading — including, for me, this opportunity to be Douglas’s first-ever guest editor.
We’ve walked the useless parts of our businesses out the back door of the bar. We’ve seen the parts of ourselves where the cracks let the light in. And we have more fully acknowledged the biases we carry and the problems we unknowingly contribute to. We have readied ourselves to emerge into a new order of things this fall.
As my conversation with Royal Roads University President Philip Steenkamp reveals in this issue of Douglas, a good number of us in business have quietly reoriented ourselves around the tenet of courage.
Courage to change familiar, well-received offerings into something wholly different to suit a new mode of delivery. Courage to open conversations we’d been avoiding because they once seemed too uncomfortable. Courage to look inside and acknowledge what’s broken, and what we are now prepared to heal. And the courage to chart a new course — one that feels more authentic and aligned, for our organizations, our communities and for our inner selves.
Contributions from Ruth Mojeed, Erin Skillen and Jim Hayhurst are included to nudge our leadership along.
In our feature story on leading through uncertainty, crisis expert Kimberley Nemrava walks us through the well-documented stages of disaster, giving us permission to feel what we’re feeling (we’re at what Nemrava calls the “deep fatigue” part of the cycle, on the off chance that this rings a bell) and delivering solid tips for how to leverage the particular momentum that exists at different parts of the cycle.
While we may be wicked tired, we have also realized with a certain satisfaction that we are not built for easy. At all levels of our organizations, we are seeing leaders step forward to take on new roles and challenges. Our conversations are more courageous. We’re more courageous in carving out time to take better care of our minds and bodies. And we’re looking ahead, to refind an unpredictable future, with — you guessed it — courage.
Continue Reading: In Conversation with Ian Chisholm