Brave Leadership: Infecting people with positivity & happiness in time of Coronavirus

By: Author: Sharad Mehra, CEO - Asia Pacific GUS.

Let's admit it. Everyone is fed-up and miserable with the spread of coronavirus and social distancing. I'm intentionally avoiding conversations that track hourly spread of this pandemic. There are millions like me, who want to have a happier moment in our day. Painting a doomsday scenario is not the leadership that we need. It is time we create an environment of positive communication and empathy. Yes the business scenario is going to be tough but it is also the time where human spirit and resilience will triumph against all adversity.
That's the brave leadership of keeping the morale, positive emotions and happiness of humankind up, in the worst crisis of this decade.

New Success Mantra of Brave Leaders: Happiness & Well-being
Brave leaders do not influence but infect the organization with bold ideologies and pursuit of the impossible.
US based Zappos hires employees on 'happy employees mean happy customers' criteria. Therefore, most important criteria for hiring is the 'cultural fit' interview which has half weightage. If the new employees feel they aren't in sync with organization they are free to quit with an offer of $2,500. Employees are given raises not on office politics but performance in skill tests and growth chart. Huge monetary margins are kept aside to keep teams happy and well bonded.
There is no single definition or set of competencies that define the new leader. In today's world, no leader can afford to have a single dominant style of leadership. A brave leader can convert himself into a thousand persons at a moment's notice and come back to center effortlessly.

A leader has multiple roles to play:
Coach: The brave leader is a coach that does not provide answers but enables people to find solutions that work for them.
Artist- Paints a big picture and allows everyone to fill the picture with diverse colors so that everyone sees it as their creation.
Player- Is not in the sideline but when needed in the ditch doing the dirty work.
Acrobat-Handling diverse, multiple tasks and challenges on-the-go, with the flexibility to deal with ambiguity.
Magician - Does the unthinkable, sees what others can't, make them believe in the reality of the non-existential.
Maverick- Allows vulnerability to be a strength, makes and allows mistakes, creative thinker.
Emotional - Passion over cynicism, aspiration over pragmatism.

Leadership for a sustainable world
In the present time, the fight for natural resources, their consumption and conservation are intensifying, people are increasingly realizing the importance of people-planet-profit-in that order. Today, the New reality is about embracing technology as the new way of thinking and culture. Comfort with technology and the ability to see its impact on one's own organization could be the critical difference between success and failure.Take the example of the UAE Government who invited a futurist and educator to design their Energy Strategy 2050 on futuristic scenarios. A 'stress-test' was designed by the futurist for government participants to understand the implications of future scenarios. A future energy zone was created based on econometric data and projections. A model metropolis was created to enact these. This exercise helped the participants connect the dots-social, economic, financial and technological developments-and see the big picture, thereafter. There were parameters like implementation of renewable energy technologies, alternate public transport networks, peer-to-peer energy trading, social and cultural shifts. Interestingly, the experiment also tracked happiness index, affordability, carbon emissions, cost changes and other parameters like policies that could exist.
One of the futuristic scenarios, 'business-as-usual' model was based on no policy and behavior changes, in the future. An outcome of this was the horrific pollution scenario. As participants were made to inhale air samples created (using chemicals) on futuristic scenarios, they found the experience unbearable. It had a bigger impact than all forecasting and data evidence put together. The result? The UAE government formed 'immediate actionable insights' into their National Energy Strategy 2050.
A 'Tomorrow Fund' was created for citizens and their children, based on their energy patterns. But this was a tough call for the government. To begin with, how could people be convinced to change their energy behavior? Incentivize. Similarly, a holographic fund advisor was created for a payment plan in the 'Tomorrow Fund' which would automatically mean deduction as reward for sustainable behavior. An award scheme 'The Order of Emirates' was introduced for climate champions-individuals and organizations.
The Impact? UAE Government announced it would invest $163 billion in renewables, to create a better future for its people.

What are the hallmarks of a sustainable leadership? Collaborating with stakeholders: Businesses don't work in isolation but in collaboration with others, outside. Social capital is the key to our future. It means that changes need to be introduced in small and significant ways and eventually look at a big turnover that not only reaps financial benefits but also downsizes or eliminates carbon emissions and other forms of pollution that can impact the planet.Social Cost, Regulatory and Non-Regulatory Mechanisms by Government: The planet's future depends not just laws and government mechanisms. Rather, sustainability is 'For the people-by the people-with the people.' In this vein, regulations need to be framed with tax incentives and other perks rather than draconian laws to burden people.
Applying Systems Thinking and Sustainability Literacy: Where can an opportunity can be capitalized and how can existing models be aligned to well-being of people and the planet?
Walking the talk: It's fine to set aside a budget and talk big on sustainability. But a leader will recognize all efforts from grassroots and above reward them.
The context of leadership is changing rapidly. The current situation reaffirms one belief strongly that, what got us here will not get us there. One last point, take care of your people and trust them, they will take care of the business better than you.

By: Author: Sharad Mehra, CEO - Asia Pacific GUS.

24 June 2020 . 8 Minutes


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