Skills and competencies in the age of Corona

This is an extraordinarily difficult  time during which to manage.

The odds leaders face are almost insurmountable, yet some are doing much better than others in navigating this awful, prolonged mess.

I have observed people shining, and I’m sharing what I have seen as working.

Project calmness

In her masterpiece Becoming, Michelle Obama describes how Barack Obama would become calmer and calmer in the face of challenge. The harder the challenge, the more calm he projected. This was a great gift for the people who surrounded him.

No doubt, this is one of the greatest assets one can have as a leader in the age of corona, nor only in politics, but in business as well.

One day at a time

This is no time for long term vision, dreaming and wow-wowing. No one knows where this is leading, and almost everything we know and do is being threatened. We are not creating reality; we are responding to exogenic forces which are shaping our reality. Some days are bad and others are worse. One day at a time projects a realistic platform onto which people can hold,and this creates trust.

Fairness

Fairness is the ultimate ersatz currency in an time when costs can be chopped, perks cut, and people axed with the drop of a hat.The return on investment for being fair is at its  peak.

Being there

Elifaz, Bildad and Zofar who came to comfort Job waited seven days before they started providing him with (some say) misguided advice. They were just there for him. Being out there, available and present, is yet another powerful tool for your folks, who are, like you, seeing everything around them crumble.

 

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OD in the age of Corona

Luckily I have been fully employed since the corona  shutdown was lifted; some economic activity has returned, albeit certainly not to “Normal,” RIP.

Managers are rethinking every aspect of work that is humanly possible in order to survive: cost cutting, downsizing, choppy choppy and hacky-hacky, eliminating layers of management, redesigning work-space and dealing with health and safety regulations. The work domain is an absolute nightmare.

On the way home from north of Israel to home (Tel Aviv) last week after a day of work, I closed down my Audible book (on the life of Disraeli) and pondered  how has OD challenged itself recently vis a vis its skill set, relevance, diagnostic techniques and methods of intervention, to adapt itself to survive.  Whilst there is a lot of great stuff going on about telecommuting and trust building in a virtual environment , it is but a small component of the need for reinventing OD for the current environment.

In what ways does OD need to be re-invented? By the time I answered  this question,I was already half-way home. The answer I gave myself (as I passed by Nazareth) was that we need to be faster, more short term focused, less non-directive and far more creative, shaking off values which hold us back from being relevant.

This is a tall order for a profession so enamored by its past, that it fails to introspect and acknowledge the relevance of some Oriental values (such as discretion) over Occidental values (authenticity)  in global organizations.

I got home, went up to get my bathing suit which I had typically forgotten, and headed off to swim, just before the misguided Israeli government closed our pools, only to reopen them the next day.

 

 

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From bad to worse: Corona in Israel

Israeli summers are hot and whilst wearing a mask, they are hotter. It is almost unbearable to wear a mask all the time when outside. But wear a mask I do, because Corona is everywhere. It is lurking in every meeting, in stores, on handles, and on elevator buttons. In car washes, on paper money, on buses, trains and on banisters.

Not in pools however. Because the pools are closed. Synagogues, where so many people have become ill, are open yet pools are closed. Yes, the virus has created a lot of hatred and sectarianism as well. As if that was lacking.

Every plan is tenuous because people are coming in and out of quarantine. And if  they are in quarantine and Zoom is being used,  be prepared for chaos  because for some very strange reason, Zoom has voice issues in Israel. Voice issues meaning no voice. Just to be clear.

Poverty is ubiquitous. Closed stores, depleted goods, grim faces and seething anger as things go from bad to worse.

My hands are raw from washing and I find it harder to go out of my home each day to work for fear that I will be infected. Indeed I am in (very) good shape for someone my age but I am, alas, a bit frightened. Strangely enough and against all odds, I have a lot of work, all of it face to face. We sit 2 meters apart with doors and windows open.

Recently I have been reading a lot of leadership biographies: de Gaulle, D’Israeli and Truman. I do wish someone like Truman was our leader now, or even like a Disraeli.

But we are led by ineffective, corrupt, and idiotic scum. Each member of our government fought battles about “who could reopen fastest”, and we all got fucked.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

 

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