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Tuesday, 16 July, 2024

We need hope not hollow excuses

We need hope, not hollow excuses. So lockdown is finally easing – and confusion reigns. From the simple “stay at home” message, we are now faced with a range of confusing rules covering what we can and cannot do. We can invite cleaners and contractors into our homes, but not those we love. We are back at work – well, some of us anyway. Schools are reopening – or are they? Shops can open, but we still can’t get a haircut.

And we are navigating this minefield as it is revealed yet another senior official has acted with blatant disregard for lockdown rules. At the time of writing, Dominic Cummings remains in post, but for how long remains to be seen, as public anger and calls for his resignation grow. Yet another example of one rule for us, another for them.

Even before the Cummings revelations, a sense of mutiny was growing amongst the British population. We are fed up, lonely and confused by what is expected of us. And our response varies from those who seem to have unilaterally abandoned lockdown and social distancing to those – like me – who have given up trying to follow unfathomable rules and are simply being sensible.

As time wears on and our sacrifice continues, the leadership chasm at Westminster is growing. Fear of COVID-19 might have been a sufficient motivator in the early stages of its spread. However, we are now in week 9 of lockdown. Aside from the government-imposed restrictions and bleak news coverage, most of us have not been impacted by the virus.

This is a good thing – it means the measures are working.

However, we are looking to our leaders to give us much-needed hope for the future. We need a compelling vision for a bright future that gives meaning to our current sacrifice. And in this, our leaders are failing us. Prospects for the future seem bleak – recession, unemployment and hardship are next, according to the British press.

In a recent podcast, I referred to Churchill’s rousing “Fight them on the beaches …” address to parliament in the wake of allied troops untidy retreat through Dunkirk. Victory was far from assured at the time of the address and much was being asked of the British public to play their part in the fight. Statesmanlike leadership was required to guide the nation to victory over their foe.

Now, it is clear that sitting at home playing FIFA in the fight against COVID-19 is a far cry from laying down your life for your country. However, there are parallels with the current crisis – a need for great sacrifice, for pulling together against the enemy, a sense we are all in this together.

And yet, the statesmanlike leadership is sorely lacking. Where are the rallying cries? Hope for the future? Our sense of unity and shared experience?

The fight against COVID-19 is far from over – and growing dissent risks its deadly resurgence.

It is time for our leaders to step up and lead. They can start by showing humility – accept and admit they have made mistakes that have undermined their lockdown measures. Lead by example – not by excuses – and we will follow. Paint a rich picture of a hopeful future that we can all play our part in creating.

We need hope not hollow excuses

There have been some wonderful by-products of the current crisis – acts of kindness and humanity, a renewed sense of community, a rejuvenated Planet Earth. If we could look forward to:

“A world where we look out for our fellow man, build a thriving community and work together to create a brighter future for everyone.”

This would provide meaning, hope for the future and a powerful purpose in our current sacrifice.

Cathy Rhodes
Cathy Rhodeshttps://breakforgrowth.co.uk/
I have been in business for nearly 20 years, providing training, facilitation and support to enable my clients to grow and develop their businesses. With a background in big brand marketing, I set up Break for Growth to help owners of SMEs apply Coca-Cola quality marketing principles to achieve commercial success. At the heart of all good marketing is an understanding of what motivates people to behave as they do – and this fascinates me. By understanding this, it is possible to professionally influence their behaviour for mutual benefit. Many studies have proven the correlation between people skills and career and commercial success. However, evidence of poor leadership and people skills is all around us – and UK productivity statistics highlight the pressing need to address this. A year ago, therefore, my husband and I re-launched Break for Growth to specialise in commercial training and development with a difference. Focussing on people skills and their role in commercial success, our practitioner-led training is peppered with real life examples to bring learning to life. Through such training and support, we can help play our part in helping owners of SMEs – and their teams – grow their capabilities in this critical area of business success. https://www.linkedin.com/company/19059912


  1. Thanks for this, Stuart, and my apologies for the delay in responding. Busy day!

    I appreciate you taking the trouble to read my article and share your thoughts. I agree – our political leaders seem unable to engage in any behaviour that could be considered leadership. I don’t think the political system is conducive to strong leadership, as continued career success rides on winning an election every five years.

    In my view, we need a significant display of humility on their part if our so-called leaders are to stand a chance of winning back hearts and minds in the fight against C-19.

    Thanks again, Stuart.

  2. Good article Cathy, although I don’t think these so called leaders can or will lead. How is it that many business leaders are so good and most political ones, so very poor?

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