Mapping Effective Covid-19 Engagement: Four Responses to the Challenge

Mapping Effective Covid-19 Engagement: Four Responses to the Challenge

Visionary Azure Blue stories often contain moments of personal doubt and spiritual despair. We see this in the inspiring stories of Martin Luther and Joan-of-Arc. Visionary stories may contain elements not only of doubt and despair, but also of wisdom (combining Golden Yellow and Azure Blue leadership) or courage (combining Ruby Red and Azure Blue leadership). Visionary leaders convey stories of sacrifice, tribulation, and triumph—having parted the Red Sea or dwelled in the desert so that they might enter a land of milk and honey. Ironically, in many instances they have led their people to a land of milk and honey, but have not been able to enter this land themselves (Moses, Lincoln, Gandhi, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King).

This is a key point in understanding the complex and often contradictory dynamics of Azure Blue leadership: the vision can never be realized (just as ironically the enemy can never be defeated if Ruby Red leadership is to be sustained and the followers can never become too wise if Golden Yellow leadership is to prevail). One way to be certain that the vision remains intact is to kill the visionary leader (figuratively or literally). We can sustain the vision of a new Camelot because John Kennedy never had a chance to enact his dream. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech continues to be compelling in part because he was not alive to realize this dream.

There is also complexity and contradiction in the challenge faced by a contemporary Azure Blue leader in recognizing and even supporting two or more visions that are compelling though contradictory. How might contradictory visions be embraced without the visionary leader appearing to be hypocritical or confused? Can there be both a guardianship of past traditions and future reform? Is there a COVID-19 world in which a commitment to fiscal responsibility can be successfully coupled with a commitment to serving the underserved? How do we bring together these concerns in both the short-term and the long-term?

We find that for many people the prospect of widespread COVID-19 disruption and death has elevated their own spiritual quest for meaning and purpose in life (and sometimes their concerns about an after-life). How do we incorporate these concerns with a more secular concern about the economy and health care? How do we blend this new-found spirituality and our long-standing practical secularism with a commitment in many of our communities to a specific sacred perspective? Even more immediately, how can a leader speak about the need for restraint in opening the marketplace to save human lives, while also trying to stimulate the economy to save jobs. This is the profound – and perhaps insurmountable—challenge of contradiction that faces the visionary Azure Blue leader and this leader’s followers.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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