14 Aug 2020

You have influence. So how will you show up?

The COVID-19 pandemic has confronted us with its kryptonite, uncertainty. Whilst simultaneously making evident to us one of its superpowers- ingenuity. The ability to remain hungry in what we do and how we do it is vital to staying competitive, present and quite honestly, fired-up! And sometimes it takes a crisis to jolt the most creative impulses into action, whether that crisis affects you, your business, an industry or, in this case, the world at large.

In a recent Huffington Post article on “Embracing the New” it was suggested that we need to periodically ask, “What wants to come into the world through me?” This is not an ego-driven, narcissistic question. It is a query which summons us to show up, to serve something larger than the familiar, the comfortable. Surely one of the most telling tests of our lives is whether we are living in a way which is driven more by challenge than by comfort, one which asks more of us than we had planned to offer.

We’re lucky enough to work alongside brilliant strategists, creators, thinkers and innovators every day, so we’ve asked them what ingenuity means to them in the context of responding to COVID-19. In most instances, their answers had a common theme: work hard, embrace change, stay lean and keep perspective.

As South Africans there is a definite intersection between “’n boer maak ‘n plan” and the communal spirit of ubuntu that lives within and sustains each of us.

We are reminded that ingenuity and tenacity need help to flourish and make an impact. Now more than ever, each one of us, in our various roles as leaders (home, work, society at large) have a responsibility to those we serve, and we see them as:

  • To encourage and sustain the optimism that sparks and powers  creativity. It will mean confronting emerging realities honestly while  focusing people’s minds on purpose, possibility and opportunity.
  • Experimentation flourishes by combining different skills and  specialities in virtual teams, which break down siloes. Now is the time  for businesses to be more fluid and focus more intently on what people  need and how best to give it to them. This is especially important when  so many are working remotely.
  • Finally, businesses will need to look beyond their own four walls and  explore unlikely places for inspiration with more curiosity than ever.  If the current situation has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t do it  alone. Proactively building new networks and collaborations, formal or  informal, can let vital energy and spark into their structures and  thinking. It could be the stimulus to join unlikely-seeming dots and  quicken the flow of new ideas.

So, as we go boldly into each new day, experience and challenge let us be aware of our influence, let us take up the call to lead in our own small ways and to show up with intention, cognisant of what we bring to each situation.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell