“Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s the day-to-day living that wears you out”
– Anton Chekhov


Over the past week or so, as COVID-19 has paid another visit to New Zealand’s shores, I’ve noticed how many leaders have yet again gone into the ‘Covid-mode’ of leadership.

‘Covid-mode’ is all about reacting to problems. Dousing fires. Feeling that surge of adrenaline as we’re called upon to gather the team, to be decisive, and to sort things out. It’s an exciting time, to be sure. Stuff gets done. We put things to rights, and we tell ourselves that the team did a great job.

It’s addictive stuff. Heroes are made. Legends are born. We bank stories to tell our grandkids.

And yet, I think ‘Covid-mode’ is probably the easiest form of leadership to enact. Sure, it gets us back to normal. But we don’t need to go back to normal. Normal is what got us here in the first place.

If we want a better, more sustainable future, it’s not enough.

‘Covid-mode’ can miss the bigger picture. It can miss the opportunity to shape a compelling vision for a better way of life. It can miss the chance to ask and answer “what do we want?” and to collectively build pathways toward it. It can miss the chance to reimagine what it means to build a workplace and society that brings out the best in humanity over the longer term, not just in a crisis.

By way of contrast, the type of leadership that asks these questions and explores this territory is called ‘Vivid-mode’. The Latin root of vivid means ‘to live’. Vivid-mode is the leadership that creates the conditions for people to live well in a sustained way, not just in a crisis.

Vivid-mode is rarer than Covid-mode. Perhaps understandably so. It’s hard-grind, and slow-burn. Like any worthwhile creative process, it’s not glamorous and it’s not about adrenaline. There are rarely accolades along the way. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. It’s just day-to-day downright hard work. 

And this is the sort of leadership the world really needs right now.

What mode do you choose?

You can hear more about this topic on What’s On Your Mind podcast, episode 39.



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