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Let’s remember the realities of leadership

March 18, 2020

At the present time, as much of the world fights an invisible enemy, it is easy to criticize, to demand certainty. I keep hearing comments such as “I wish they’d make up their mind and just tell us what to do”.

The reality for those who must formulate those instructions is extraordinary. An IACCM member – a senior public servant – wrote to me today and one of his comments was: “Things move so fast, that even with multiple updates a day, policies and guidelines written one day can be overtaken by events within 24 hours“. And he is in one of the currently least affected nations.

Finding the right balance of action in such uncertain times is incredibly challenging and, with the advantage of hindsight, we will certainly point at occasions when the wrong decision was made, or it might have been made earlier. But it is essential to remember that all decisions operate in a context. For example, the context in a society that has never known democracy is very different from one where the population expects widespread consultation and rights of free speech.

Let all of us who live and work within democratic societies reflect on the fact that with those personal and individual rights come responsibilities. Unlike in some countries, we have levels of choice – for example, whether or not to socialize, whether or not to panic buy, whether or not to set an example for others.

it is always easy to criticize, to seek someone to blame for our own uncertainties and fears. Leaders who themselves fail to take responsibility and instead indulge in blaming others deserve our scorn – they are not leaders. But for those who are stepping up to the plate, and for those public servants in the front line of decision-taking, let us show some respect and understanding of just how demanding and stressful every day must be.

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