To leaders everywhere – THANK YOU!
I saw a story on the news about a Roman Catholic priest, somewhere in Italy, in a Covid 19 hotspot. He had absorbed the message that public meetings had been banned which meant that his congregation could not attend Mass. His response was to invite all his congregation members to take a selfie which he collected together. He printed all the photos on A4 paper, made them into placards and then stood them up in the pews of his church whilst he stood up front and presided at Mass! I might not share quite the same theology as him in relation to Holy Communion, but I admire his humour and willingness to think creatively.
Benjamin Franklyn wrote that, “out of adversity comes creativity.”
My neighbour works for a boutique gin maker. He told me that they have suspended gin production and switched to making hand sanitiser. Because alcohol is a sanitiser, they were able to make the switch. “Smart move,” I say!
Already, I am hearing of all kinds of creativity emerging in this crisis, not least amongst churches. I hope and pray that these innovations, and more to the point the spirit of innovation, might be here to stay.
A church near here is inviting the housebound to join together every morning to say prayers using Zoom, the communication app. They have never done that before. Many churches who might never have dreamt of streaming their worship services online have either already started or are deep into their exploration of how this could happen.
Churches are working together in safe and new ways to make sure that vulnerable and housebound people are supplied with what they need and are bringing pastoral support to those who need it. I heard that in Milton Keynes the foodbank had nine distribution points. The City Council had then approached the Trust and asked them if they could deliver fifty four distribution points. Longer term, all this innovation might become a real and regular blessing to the housebound.
At GLN, we too are working hard to innovate, given that it is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that large gatherings may not be permitted when our conference season begins. It seems that the old proverb about necessity being the mother of invention has more than an element of truth. Thinking together about problem solving energises us and most teams. McKinsey research discovered that creating a problem-solving culture is one of the top four leadership attributes.
I want to encourage leaders everywhere. Adversity can cause a loss of perspective. We can easily feel helpless and paralysed in the face of seemingly unsolvable problems or, even worse, feel sorry for ourselves. This is a time for leaders to release the creative potential of their teams. Who knows what you might come up with? Whether you lead in commerce, industry, education, healthcare or a local church, this may be your moment.
I recall that a member of my family, when young, had a t-shirt which had emblazoned on the back of it, “Don’t just lie there and bleed, get up and fight.” Out of anxiety for his physical health, I think I may have actually confiscated it! I get it. This virus is not our fault; it was unexpected and it has taken away our familiar way of doing things. As the t-shirt implies, simply feeling sorry for ourselves will not help.
Opinions will be mixed as to whether the media and the Government are doing a good job. What we at GLN would like to know is how we might best help you? We are starting to put what we think might be helpful on our website (see below), but equally, we would like to know from you how we might best help.
Leaders everywhere are in my prayers.
CEO, GLN UK & Ireland
Talks to Lift You Up
A selection of GLS talks to encourage you during this challenging time.
Crisis Leadership Resource Page
Our colleagues at GLN have put together 16 free resources for leadership in a season of crisis.