Building A Legacy: Leadership during COVID Times

In adversity lies immense opportunity. It was the short story of the ‘three questions’ from Tolstoy, Steven’s mom would often read out to him when he was a child. It seems to be so topical today. Steven keeps those three questions as his constant companion –

• When is the right time to do anything? ‘Of course – now!’
• Who is the right person to listen to? ‘The one you happen to be with.’
• What is the right thing to do? ‘To serve.’

… because the past is slipping away and now is the only moment…

Leaving a lasting legacy:

Usually, there are three other questions that dawn upon people when they are at the end of their career lives – did I live well? Did I love well and did I matter? Did I make a difference and was it worth it at all? And therein lies the question of legacy. Legacy is mistakenly regarded as something that one leaves behind. But legacy is built – consciously or unconsciously. Especially now in the continuously unfolding COVID crisis, every leader, and potentially every human-being, needs to question himself – how do I make a difference? A quick reminder that legacy is in someone else’s mind and hence needs the effort to get created in the mind-space of others. A legacy can be created in 5 domains and they are family, business, professional, industry, world, or community you live in. Steven’s suggestion is to look at all of them carefully and work on all.

The time to act is now!

The Story of Rami – a dynamic CEO-leader, born in Riyadh, who took over his father’s business in Beirut and grew the business from revenues of 200M to 1 B USD; the business was ready for an explosive IPO. When asked, Rami remarked that the IPO was just for leaving a legacy for his family – making sure that they are more than comfortable through generations. But beyond the IPO, he wanted to dedicate his entire life in serving the community. As life would have had it, destiny had other plans. He passed away, an untimely death at 33 – a burst blood vessel in the head. Unfortunately, just before the IPO.

Steven stressed that action needs to be taken now. Be impatient for change – if something needs change it must be done. Leadership, he reminded, is a responsibility, and one cannot be a continuous critic during times of need but has to be an active change agent. Leadership reputation arises from not just ‘doing’ but from ‘leading’. And today the need is leading people out of anxiety, troubled times, and pain. One constantly needs to question himself, what is he known for? If it is just for technical skills, then something is terribly wrong.

Leadership 3.0 – the new paradigm for successful leaders.

People have discovered new parts of themselves today. Nearly everyone has experienced a change in his leadership style. Steven’s research on Leadership yields a completely new evolution of this beast. Leadership 1.0 was based around personal charisma – Welsh, Iacocca. Leadership 2.0, which has evolved over the past twenty years, was all about teams and collaborations – so a lone leader giving dictatorial orders was not enough to create an institution but it was with a team of people working together. The new Leadership 3.0 style that is seen developing is all about community and community building. It is about pulling people together; it is about battling anxiety and fear – together. Pandemic has made us start-ups and start-ups have a huge overlap between people directing and people doing. With ‘long term’ seemingly be dead, at least for a while, Successful leaders of tomorrow will be those who would have built successful communities.

Authenticity in leadership

Is legacy building different in a crisis? If you were to seek answers for ‘leadership during the pandemic’ either on the internet or otherwise – usually they have been low calorie and very general e.g.
take care of your selves, or Parochial – do this. Surviving and thriving are big issues in general. Today when water-cooler conversations have gone and WFH has become more individualized, there is a danger that leaders are in an echo-chamber with people that they get on with. Dissenters could be unconsciously or consciously kept out of discussions. For being within the dictates of the leadership 3.0 paradigm, one would need to consciously seek out men and women, who have increasingly become individualized due to WFH, but especially whose ideas don’t necessarily conform to one’s perspectives. On this island of humanity and employees, it is the leaders’ responsibility to keep everyone involved and bridging the gaps.

If you have something to say to the world, say it now!

Writing books – a powerful tool to quickly put a book into print. In today’s world where the speed of communication is the key for sharing knowledge and research freely, conventional publishing routes that take 9 – 12 months to publish a book may not be apt. Writer’s Channel help authors publish their book quickly.

Steven’s own affliction that occurred fleetingly at a young age of 26 has kept him living every day of his as if his doctor’s words could come true – “your affliction may return any day.” But in the shadows of strength and not fear.

Full episode here.

– Alok Sinha

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