IN BATTLING this dreadful and devastating Covid-19 outbreak, leaders find themselves struggling not just to contain infections and deaths, but also with the seemingly inescapable crisis management jinx that is clearly testing them. Heading to Week 2 of the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine), it is clear that most of them have failed. Let us look back on Sept. 3, 2008 at the Republican National Convention. When it was former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s turn to speak, he was the first to utter the phrase “hope is not a strategy.” Specifically, his convention speech included these words: “Because ‘change’ is not a destination, just as ‘hope’ is not a strategy.” What did he mean? Mr. Giuliani was referring to then presidential candidate Obama—and any other president—on the need to act!
An Extraordinary Event
Requires Forceful Action
Faced with this unprecedented event, a leader must show transparency, decisiveness and forcible action. A leader must prepare an overall plan for virus containment, initiate aggressive testing, must be at the forefront in disclosing the movements of those confirmed to be infected, explain the concept of social distancing, must relentlessly seek private funding and ask for supply donations. And sternly warn residents that the ordinance will impose jail time on those who do not comply with a quarantine order. While initiating these on-ground campaigns, a leader must have contingency plans for its constituents, especially the most vulnerable members of the community like the daily wage earners and owners of micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs). While leading the crisis team, the leader must also be strategic and manage the economic implications post-Covid-19. In short, an effective leader must thoroughly plan and implement programs covering all possible variables and social costs in real time. Constituents expect nothing less than that brand of leadership.
Let me put this in the right perspective. You’re hiring someone to do a job—an important job that involves the safety and security of your family. Imagine that you have several job applications in your hand. As you sift through all the applications, you realized that they are all credentialed candidates but with very diverse and different life experiences. After shortlisting the candidates that best fit your expectations, the choice is now down to these applicants.
Candidate No 1.
This candidate plans to dedicate his life to the service of the community. He is a neophyte candidate but has shown tremendous passion in formulating unconventional rules in changing the old practices that have wreaked havoc on the lives of the constituents. The candidate has not been tested yet by any crisis, but he is known to be methodical and claims to have a game plan on how to effect change should he be chosen. He is also surrounded by well-meaning advisors that have no personal agenda. He is also very spiritual, and it is no secret that he loves the country as we all do—and he is willing to sacrifice when the time comes.
Candidate No. 2
On the other hand, you have another candidate who is a very educated man with a history of public service lineage. He worked tirelessly as his father’s Chief of Staff and immersed himself in local politics at a young age. Then he ran for Congress and won, taking over the seat vacated by his father. He has spent most of his time as a “celebrity congressman” but has never shown leadership nor enacted any major legislation.
To be continued...