Redefine your purpose or go! It’s heading toward the end of December 2020 and at this time of year, I usually put out a piece of reflection to my contacts. The idea is that they think about the things they want to leave behind this year and those they wish to carry with them, plan for and hopefully celebrate. I didn’t do it this year because we are in turmoil, laced with grief, sorrow and uncertainty. I’m angry and sad with my decision and at the same time completely understand my reasons for making it: an interesting ambiguity!
So, what’s on the other side of the dark valley we’re in? I’m not entirely certain but I think we have to begin to articulate what hope might look, sound and feel like and that these conversations need to transcend the immediate organisational impacts of C-19 on businesses and beyond.
We know that C-19 isn’t the only challenge factor.
The impacts of A.I are seen and felt, and to a degree accepted, but with perhaps limited understanding of their almost inevitable capacity to change the dimensions and structures of our working and non-working lives.
That workspaces may need to redefine their role and purpose. Climate change may mean that we in the more temperate zones, we will have to accept that there will be days when it will quite simply be too dangerously hot, violently stormy or bitterly cold to journey to work.
I see the role of leadership shifting to one where we are acting in stewardship of our work environments, their relationship with societal uncertainties, the increasing challenges of ecological change together with energy production and conservation. We should accept our leadership role and purpose extends outside of organisational boundaries and that we are a human interface between “that which we do at work,” and “that which impacts on our immediate environment and beyond”.
What would this look, sound a feel like? Can we accept that the single-minded production of wealth that toxifies our planet, whether through direct environmental damage, disposal of industrial and domestic waste or unfettered investment in ecologically unsound projects is wrong and has to stop? Are we as leaders, within and outside of organisations ready to state and adhere to a simple protocol that says: “If our actions do not support the well being of our environment, our planet and our future generations, we need to stop and do something else?”
Redefine your purpose or go!
To go further: leadership at national, regional and local levels should align with this very simple notion, that we are at a tipping point where C-19 has brutally exposed pre-existing fault lines. This has however created an opportunity for us all to consider how we look forward to creating a greater sense of individual, societal and economic responsibility, resilience and capacity.
Those of us charged with a leadership role have to engage in conversations and inquires that speak to a future, that can begin to be defined and described by values. These are the values framed within courageous Servant Leadership. Whatever we do, it’s time to be brave and to tell ourselves, our colleagues, applicants and new-starts that, if you don’t want to sign up to and live by these values, you’re in the wrong place and you need to go.
It is my hope that at the end of 2021, I can send out my reflective challenge with a sense of celebration and positive anticipation.