Mapping Effective Covid-19 Engagement: Four Responses to the Challenge
Our Courageous Ruby Red leader need not play much of a role when freeze is the chosen response. Furthermore, this person is likely to experience the stress associated with inaction in a very personal manner. Our courageous leader probably will be even more stressed by the inaction than will other members of the group, organization, community or society—given expectations that the courageous leader will take action. Even if this leader is living in the shadows as a janitor or bus driver, they are likely at some level to feel responsible for the welfare of the people they serve. The office must still be cleaned and disinfected. The bus driver must still pick up and deliver riders. No one can go on strike. We can ask for protective masks and testing—but must still serve the public even if unprotected and unsure of our health status.
Thus, while freeze may be the most common reaction to powerful and highly active enemies, it is least aligned with the assumptions about Courageous Red Ruby leadership—leaving many citizens with a pervasive sense of profound disappointment in the “cowardly” inaction of their formal leaders (and themselves). Who is to blame? When do we turn from the virus to a new enemy—such as our public leaders or those cleaning our office space? Even if the public servants are unacknowledged for their provision of courageous service every day, they will become quite visible and become a source of intense criticism if they choose to freeze and not risk their life (or the life of other family members) by going to work. With courageous leadership and strategies comes the need to find an enemy (or multiple enemies if the threat and stress continues unabated).
The Challenges of Courageous Leadership and Strategies
Just as the challenge of a wisdom-based form of leadership can be summed up in two phrases words (succession planning and appreciation), so Ruby Red leadership based on courage can be summed up with two phrases: powerful enemy and decisive action. We must retain (and never defeat) the enemy. We can win a specific battle, but not win too decisively so that the war comes to an end. If we lose our enemy then we no longer need a courageous leader. We put the distinguished fight or flight leader out to pasture. We go back to taking for granted the services being provided by the janitor or bus driver. The story that gains traction the Internet is now once again about a scandalous affair or corrupt politician.