It was less than four weeks ago, 3/16/20, that I posted my last essay, “â€œCalm, Steady, & Clear-mindedâ€â€¦. A leadership model for challenging times.” The Covid Pandemic had reared its ugly head across the globe and had spread broadly across North America. I was still working from my office in Bakersfield, but was was realizing that California was about to institute a state-wide “stay-in-place” order and that I needed to get home to my family in Atlanta. It is incredible to think that those moments of working on flight options to leave California to come back home were only three weeks ago…. the world has dramatically changed and the challenges we all are facing continue to grow. While I received a number of positive comments about the last blog essay, I want/need to amplify on it today.
The Leadership challenges that so many are facing today are daunting. What are the next set of requirements organizationally that we will need to deploy next week? How can we prioritize the health and safety of our employees AND continue basic business operations to sustain the business and the job security of those employees? How to mobilize, direct and engage a newly virtual professional staff very used to working in small groups in informal office settings??? I won’t try to speak for others, but the list continues to grow for me every day!
It was in the midst of those challenges and stressors that I took a moment to think about that past essay and took a moment to re-read it and a few other recent entries. In late December I posted an essay right before Christmas that talked about the idea of being “Steadfast” is the face of challenges. While I am certain that I felt challenged at that moment late in 2019, it pales in comparison to how I, and millions of others are feeling today. With that reality firmly placed, it is interesting to dig into the need for leaders to be calm, steady, clear-minded and steadfast as they face incredible issues and challenges in their day to day work. These four ideas run across my recent writings and are four ideas that I am working hard to bring to life right now! In that spirit I did some digging this past week, some “etymology” ( the study of words) to dig out some insight behind these simple concept… what is the foundation of a “steadfast” leader??
Digging into the latin derivation for the key word “steadfast,” it is interesting to NOT find one single word as the historic reference point but instead three words….
“Stabilis” is the root for our english word of “stable”, “firmus” the root for our english word “firm,” and “constans” the root for our english word “constant.” It made sense to me that in order to be truly a “steadfast” leader, you had to do more than just one thing! You needed to be stable, firm and constant all at the same time.
While the idea of trying hard to work on three ideas at once is certainly a challenge, it did make sense that the foundation for would need to be varied, interconnected and made up of various elements. Like many foundations in architecture, you need multiple elements working with and against each other to form a solid base. Being “constant”/ unchanging, can at times seem to work with and against the ideas of being “stable”/ stationary and “firm”/ steady. Like many things for leaders, there is never a simple answer or formula, but there are ideas/concepts that will help all of us. During these exceedingly challenging times, I encourage all of you to be your “steadfast” best! remind yourselves of these three foundational ideas and I think it will help you and your organizations survive and hopefully thrive doing this incredibly difficult time.