Mapping Effective Covid-19 Engagement: Four Responses to the Challenge
As a result, Churchill was not very successful as Prime Minister. He was the prince of War not the Prince of Peace (nor the Prince of Wars in distant lands). What about the role placed by the loss of enemy in contemporary nations? If the COVD-19 virus ceases to be a direct menace then where would a courageous leader look for a new enemy? This Ruby Red leader could point to members of the opposing political party, immigrant populations or those from “other” religions or cultural traditions. Courageous Ruby Red leadership in a post-COVID-19 society could be quite challenging if a new enemy is not readily identified and fought. This, in turn, means that we need to be vigilant during this post-COVID-19 period to ensure that a new enemy isn’t invented that is founded on xenophobia or social class suppression.
What about the role of courage on a smaller plain—in a group or organization? I would propose that the same challenge exists. The enemy must be strong and menacing. This enemy might be a competitor, in which case a win-lose mentality is likely to be prevalent. If there is no clear external enemy, then an organization or community can turn to internal enemies. There are many candidates inside organizations: management, unions, sales, finance, or stockholders (to name a few). While the CCOVID-19 challenge seems initially to be external of any particular group or organization, it can soon become quite internal: When do we go back to work? If we must downsize because of reduced sales or revenues resulting from the virus, then who do we lay off and what are our priorities? Enemies can easily be invented during this period of stress and uncertainty.
Alternatively, the enemy can be identified in a more nuanced manner. The “enemy” can be poor quality of product or service. It can be poor management, inequitable labor policies, or ill-informed decision-making processes. If this latter, more nuanced perspective is embraced by a group or organization, then the enemy is likely to remain viable for many years—given that we can always find ignorance, injustice and poor group process in an organization. The virus might actually be of benefit in highlighting and demonstrating the need to address this more nuanced (and constructive) definition of the organization’s “enemy.” Is a comparable process possible at a national level, with a new level of thought and dialogue being directed to a review and reinvention of governmental policies? Wouldn’t it be wonderful is such a review were possible (Bergquist, 2020)?