The year 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult years of all time. Especially for leaders. Managing through a crisis is one of those things you can hear about and acknowledge that it could happen, but our human nature leans us toward the Optimism bias and we say “it won’t happen to me.” For that reason, it really is hard to prepare, we often just have to wade through when a crisis happens, takes notes of our learnings, and prepare for next time.
Most of my career has been in the fire and security industry. My job is to help organizations keep their high-value assets, people and property, safe. Ironically, I held the Optimism bias when it came to my life. I never really thought I would be impacted. That is until April of 2006, Good Friday to be exact, I woke to a smoke alarm and found my home on fire. After getting my family safely out of the house, I watched flames tear across the roof of my home. Once the fire was out and the emergency responders left, I pulled away from the house around 2:00 A.M. asking “now what?” With the help of friends, a good insurance agent, and a great restoration company, my family made it through the disruption.
We are nearing three months of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not that the pandemic is over, but it seems like the emergency vehicles have left. We are working diligently with the “now what” question as we never prepared for this situation because most of us were never able to envision it. We know we need to get our people back in the office so the power of collaboration can take its rightful place again. We also know we must be responsible, keep our people safe from a potential outbreak, and ensure we are not the target of legal claims due to negligence. It is a hard road to navigate. As we rebuild from the disruption, the task may seem insurmountable. It is good to keep these things in mind.
- This is not the first time devastation has impacted an organization. It is true that there may not be any leaders today that have led through a pandemic, but disruption is not new. We must remember that there is another side. There is light at the end of this tunnel. With the right team of people around us, we will look back, be proud of the structure, and see things more clearly with hindsight.
- We cannot get through it all on our own. This is the time to surround yourself with a team of trusted people that can support you and guide you through this process. It will be a collaborative effort of other internal leaders, industry peers, vendor partners, and government officials. We must remain calm and move steadily and this circle of people will help us do just that.
- We need to rid ourselves of the Optimism bias and recognize it can happen to us. This is important to ensure we are ready. When we remove the Optimism bias, we are willing to prepare financially by ensuring there are reserves, prepare mentally by visualizing responses and prepare relationally to ensure the people we need around us are already in our network.
Most of us are struggling at some level. We all just want to get back to normal. I call it Covid fatigue. The road of redemption is not going to be a short one, but we will get there together. Let’s stay steady, keep moving, and remember that nothing is forever. Let’s remember to embrace optimism and believe we got this together.
I’m confident, we will be looking back, sooner than we can imagine with gratitude that we came through.
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