As leaders, we contemplate more often on the nature and state of things. How are we managing at any one moment? Are we delivering consistency to others? How are we supporting the people that rely on us? What changes can we see coming over the horizon?
And on its way, at full throttle, presently is a message that speaks of a future laden with The New Normal. What does this actually mean though?
Normal is what we make it. Normal is what we will tolerate. An idea best summed up by researcher and storyteller Brene Brown:
“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalised greed, inequality, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
There are a tremendous amount of societal negatives that are coming to the fore as part of this pandemic. We are told the virus knows no prejudice, yet certain groups are disproportionately affected by it. It is not the virus that puts those groups at risk, it is the inequality embedded in our normal that has put them at risk.
It strikes me that it would be immoral to return to a previous state of affairs, knowing what we know now.
Here is an opportunity for us to work together, globally, to create something better, and we can all take the lead in that – by demanding change, influencing the creation of a new way of being and doing. There are barely any institutions unaffected by the pandemic which means almost all of them are being given a free opportunity to change how things work, to implement a new, better ‘normal’.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, has stated that he is fine with his employees working from home permanently now. Twitter as an institution has seen that people can be trusted to work from home, that giving people time and space to let them work is actually beneficial to what they do. Although this flexibility is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of change. Fundamentally, if we are going to have a new normal we have to design it, to innovate, to push our boundaries, to get uncomfortable, to rise up against the desire to sneak backwards because, well, that just feels easier.
What can we do that turns this negative situation into a more positive normal?
Every company has an opportunity to improve the conditions for its workers, every company has an opportunity to make better decisions in its supply chain, to prevent suffering, pollution, mindless greed. Every organisation has this moment in time to think about the impact it makes on this precious planet that we have collectively and mindlessly wreaked havoc upon. Everyone has this moment in time to place humanity right at the core of every choice and every action we take … let’s use this moment wisely and make the difference, small changes that collectively will create our new normal. This will probably be the opportunity of a lifetime to make improvements to our working and societal norms. Let’s embrace it!
The new normal is not a cake that will arrive pre-baked in a presentation box with our names on it, nor should we expect that it would be. Instead, we will create the new normal from the lessons we have learned, the changes we have seen, the moments we have observed.
What will we make out of what has happened to us and what influence we have as leaders, as humans?
Let’s lead our teams, lead our people, lead them somewhere better.
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