Surviving or Thriving?

Apr 06, 2020

The silver lining of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

‘All people[1] dream: but not equally.  Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.’[2]

The last few weeks has seen the world of business turned upside down.

Most commercial enterprise has been shut down through no choice of their own with workers isolating at home under Government orders with emergency orders in place to enforce it if necessary.

That ‘we live in unprecedented times’ has quickly become a truism that interpreted through the mindset of business leaders splits them into two competing perceptions of the same situation.

Our mindset stems from our beliefs and is externalised through our attitude and behaviours.

Many business leaders will look only at the present and are reactive only to the current situation being prone to pessimism and holding limiting beliefs that will not serve themselves, their people nor, their businesses well for the future.

On the other hand there are leaders who through a mindset rooted in positive beliefs and optimism see ‘unprecedented times’ as an opportunity. Throughout history there are many leaders who have come to the fore being very proactive and see opportunity in the face of challenge: They would agree with Winston Churchill to ‘never waste a good crisis’ and are the Leaders needed (the capital ‘L’ is not a mistake).

The Leaders needed are not spread equally. Regrettably there are far fewer in the latter group than the former. Given what we know about the thoughts we as humans have each day the latter group may only comprise of about a fifth of leaders and given the depreciation of leadership skills that such ‘unprecedented times’ accelerate, the actual number of Leaders is potentially far smaller.

The Leaders required are those that can look way beyond the short term issues of the crisis to the time when the crisis is over, asking now the very questions that challenge the relevance of what came before the crisis to the future looking to a ‘new world’ that is going to be different to the ‘old world’ of work. These are the Leaders who will prepare their organisations and their people to grasp the opportunities of the future – they are looking not to survive but to thrive.

It is already clear that more work will take place online and that more people will work from home and remotely. These two factors alone have major implications for business leaders who have very much worked to a two-hundred year model of managing employees by attendance: a model underpinned by a lack of trust in people and thus the need to control further exacerbated by the hierarchical nature of many businesses with command from the top down.

The new Leader will have to paint a vision of the future, establish trust, coach, support, and work with their people around a shared mission where performance in their role, not attendance, is the measure of their effectiveness.

As these ‘unprecedented times’ have shown those at the ‘front line’ – those that interact and serve the customers may have to be rewarded more generously given their daily value adding role to a business. Those in top positions will need to consider earning less.

Additionally, business may see the growth of the social enterprise especially as the real talent needed is scarcer in  a ’new world’ and where health and wellbeing issues become greater factors in employee employment choice.

To succeed in the this ‘new world’ of business means that the skills of many business leaders and managers need to be upgraded through meaningful leadership development that starts with self-leadership, for if you cannot effectively lead self how can you possibly effectively lead others?

Whilst not every cloud has a silver lining the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced by the Chancellor for British businesses certainly does. For many business leaders the paying of up to 80% of salaries to furlough employees is this ‘silver lining’ – the chance to survive.

For our Leaders with their ‘eyes open’ there is a greater ‘silver lining’ in the scheme, one buried in the small print but encouraged:  to use this furloughed time to invest in the learning and upskilling of their people – the opportunity to thrive in a ‘new world’.

Our mission at LeadersMeets is to facilitate online leadership ‘conversations that matter’ to help Leaders develop their skills and capabilities – this has never been more pertinent. We will be working with our partner organisations throughout this crisis and beyond to fulfil our mission.

If you aspire to be a Leader join us on our journey at

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