Making the Invisible Visible (Part 2/3)
Trust. Communication. Leadership
Hope everyone is keeping safe and sane in this corona saga.
Shortly after the blog in Febraury, I left for Bangladesh to co-facilitate a strategic meeting. The country didn’t stop folks from Singapore entering their borders then. That said, that doesn’t stop their folks from looking at me suspiciously when I said I come from Singapore.
In the face of pandemic, all is equal.
Every year, we see reports proclaiming that the level of trust in xxx (replace xxx with “brands", “corporates", “government", “Facebook"…etc…) is at its all time low. In 2020, the eruption of coronavirus throws trust 6 feet under further.
During the initial period when the Singapore government declared DRASCON Orange, Singaporeans were walking at beyond arms length apart, side glancing passerby, sending out signals of, “Don’t you come near me”. Talking about making the invisible, visible - the fear and anxiety couldn't be more visible. The world, is experiencing a mega Amygdala Hijack.
But could there be some good things to draw out of this corona madness?
A Textbook Case of Leadership
This morning, I came across a weekly newsletter by Chris C. Anderson. His title is a mouthful: LinkedIn Senior News Editor, APAC | Prior LinkedIn Top Voice, Biz Insider,HuffPo, CNN, HSBC Head ~ Content, Journo Prof.
Anderson walked through an analysis of what makes WHO coined the way the Singapore government handled the coronavirus outbreak “gold standard”. Gold or silver, it is true that so far, there hasn’t been a coronavirus induced death…touch wood.
In his article was a video clip featuring Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore addressing the nation. Direct communication from a top leader of a nation was never rare. Have we not seen many tweets from Donald Trump sharing his military and national decisions over Twitter? Still, what I heard feels refreshing even as a citizen - this top leader was speaking in very simple, unloaded words. I believe even if I am not well verse with English, I could still understand the message very well.
I felt he painted an honest picture of where are we as a nation, acknowledging the fear of what we are confronting; offering a roadmap of actions now and forward. He also reminded of the nation to take faith from its past experience and victory over SARS and H1N1, urging the people to be resilient and marshalling them to take courage in the face of the unknown. All delivered in a calm, friendly but determined tone.
The calm, swift, systematic, consistent and determined actions that are taking place matched up the tone and content of the message. My takeaway of it, was clear communication and principled actions: Transparency, inclusivity, vulnerability, accountability, consistency, resilience and courage. A text book case of leadership in display.
Friends who knew me, know that I never praise my own government. Like I am often harsh on myself, I am very critical of them. But watching the video and reading the analysis through the eyes of a foreigner living here, I felt my harshness towards them faltering for the first time, almost like a parent who regrets berating her son so often. I feel strangely emotional in the calmness of the message. Would I be willing to open up and support the government in this cause? Absolutely.
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At this point, the words of my client echoed in my ears:
“I am worried that my kindness will be taken for granted. How can I be a kind leader that commands respect?”
“I can never get my people to do what I tell them….it’s easier to just do things myself……..”
Considering most if not all of you are in the position of leadership
I came back in a flight with passengers who were coughing-out-loud without masks. As optimistic and strong as I was, I did come down with a non pandemic flu days later. So there you go - please do practice hygience and empathy for people around you - put on your mask if you are coughing and full of snorts.
Very glad I have fully recovered and ready to get into action again after 2 weeks of self quarantine.
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