Rwanda Coronavirus Updates 19th June: Preparing People For the ‘New Normal’
Coronavirus deaths are still rising around the world, having already soared over 8.5 million by Thursday. Economies are plunging into recession. And now there are mass global protests against racial inequity and social injustice.
It is tempting to draw an analogy with one of the old science-fiction movies in which the world was about to explode and the valiant hero – who was unfortunately usually male – would have to find a way to transport the survivors safely to another planet to begin all over again.
Fortunately, our world is now transforming rather than ending and current leaders of all types and genders do not have to start completely from scratch in the “New Normal” beyond Corona, which is likely to begin next year.
In fact, there are many existing theories and practices that might be applicable in future from the Western concept of Authentic Leadership to the Zulu concept of “Sawubona” (relating to “Mutual Respect”) to the Rwandan concept of “Umuganda” (Community Cooperation and Service).
And the “New Normal” will present a once-in-a-generation opportunity for leaders to draw on these theories and practices and then envision, create and shape a new kind of relationship with those around them, whether they are subordinates, peers, bosses, customers, vendors, communities or society at large.
One of the key requirements for this new way of leading will be Trust. “Leaders now need to create and develop a culture of deep trust for those who depend on them”, says a senior leadership development professional at a large Rwandan bank.
Before looking at how to build this culture of “deep trust”, we must recognize and clarify what trust is and isn’t:
- Trust is not the opposite of mistrust (often based on feeling) or distrust (based on experience). Trust is the opposite of control;
- Trust is not universal. It is contextual, cultural and related to the circumstances of those involved;
- Trust is not communal. Even though it may exist within a team or a group or an organization, it depends on the specific perceptions and relationships of each individual with each other within that entity;
- Trust is not uniform. There can be different levels of trust between these individuals;
- Trust is not perpetual. It can be stretched, bent or broken at any time by such things as misunderstandings, gossip or blame;
- Trust is not possible to reinstate quickly if broken. It can be rebuilt but it can take a lot of time;
- Trust is not something that leaders can mandate for themselves. It has to be earned.
Taking all of this into account, leaders don’t need to reinvent the wheel. All they need to do is to ensure that everyone – including themselves – understands, accepts and fully demonstrates the following “Four C’s”:
Be humble and curious; communicate with others honestly, directly and transparently; balance absolute truth with discretion; do what you promise when you promise it; display integrity and be accountable; own up to mistakes and take responsibility for failures; avoid gossip or victimhood; show constant caring and compassion for yourself and for others.
Take the time to really get to know others, not just as colleagues but as human beings; include and engage with everyone, particularly those who seem to be very different from you; share life and work stories; create mutual familiarity, comfort, respect and safety; avoid gossip and give everyone the benefit of the doubt; always honour professional and personal boundaries, such as family life; friendship and camaraderie are nice but optional; collegiality and graciousness are not optional.
Make sure you and others have the time, tools and resources to be successful; know your strengths and limitations and recognize those in others; be good at what you are expected to do and get the results that are expected of you; build on triumphs and learn from mistakes and failures; ask for constructive feedback, pushback, help and guidance; stretch yourself and empower others but don’t go too far, too fast; follow a conscious path of continuous improvement.
Co-create a set of clear, common values, purpose, vision, mission and realistic goals; make them a living code to work by; check in frequently to see if they are still valid or need tweaking; focus on not just what you are all doing but how you are doing it; co-create an explicit, detailed team charter for how to communicate, make decisions, challenge decisions, solve problems and resolve conflict with each other, especially when one of these four C’s is violated.
There is clearly no guarantee of lasting success but if leaders follow these guidelines consciously and conscientiously, there should be a lot more engagement, productivity and satisfaction in the “New Normal”.