I’ve spoken to several Executive Directors over the past couple of months who’ve started their stories with, “I’m so glad we….” They finished their sentence in various ways, ranging from “…were clear on our priorities” to “…invested in culture-building” to “…had the right people around the leadership table” to “…trusted each other.”
A few others have had the opposite story to tell, that began, “I wish we…” For them, the ending has often been some variation of “…figured out remote work well before now” or “…made those changes we talked about but never got around to.” I suspect there are likely other endings they are reluctant to admit out loud.
My friend and colleague John Neufeld uses a metaphor of leading in a crisis being like finding yourself in a boat at sea in a storm. During the storm is not the time to stock up on supplies or figure out how to sail. Hunkering down back at port is no longer an option. You simply need to use what you have and know to do the best you can. So you’d better hope you have the right supplies and crew!
For many of us, the immediate crisis of COVID-19 has subsided into a dull roar. We’ve adjusted to marathon pace. We’re tired of coping with chronic uncertainty. We don’t have much energy left to adapt to anything new.
I hope you’ve had a chance to rest and refuel. We all need to create some capacity that will allow us to continue to adjust as this journey carries on. Sailing in a storm is sometimes exhilarating and often exhausting.
As you’re catching your breath, are there skills and tools and crew members you’d like to have in place before tackling the next wave? Maybe a more experienced captain to give you seasoned advice, or a less leaky boat? We can’t predict what or when the next challenge will hit, but we know one will come. I suspect you have a better idea now than you would have four months ago about what will come in handy when it does. It’s time to stock up.