How to be a True Leader During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Coordinating operations amongst physically dispersed individuals is tricky
Since January 2020, many of us have watched the spread of the coronavirus and the responses by both governments and businesses with fascination and dread. The transmission patterns have been unpredictable and hard to detect. And those two variables — hard to predict, hard to detect — amplify how challenging it is for large institutions — like governments and corporations — to know how to respond effectively.
These observations remind us of our early months fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq: We struggled to keep up with the pace of events, needed to unlearn conventional management rules and had to learn to lead in a totally new way.
As the fight grew increasingly violent, we were forced to adapt our leadership and management practices into something radically different. And that included aligning our strategy while our task force was dispersed across 27 countries — often as individuals or in very small teams. It was more important to put our people closer to the problem than to each other, and the problem was spread around the world. But we couldn't lose the synergy that traditionally comes from trust, constant communication and close physical proximity.
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