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

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

Alexander apparently was physically quite impressive—as are many courageous leaders. Research has shown that male public leaders tend to be taller than non-leaders (George Washington being an excellent example) and they are usually physically stronger or more skillful than other people. The original qualifications of the prestigious Rhodes scholarship illustrate this focus. Recipients of the highly competitive Rhodes scholarship were always male (until recently) and they had to be not only academically gifted but also active in competitive sports.

Women in a leadership role also tend to be healthier (at least regarding their physical appearance) and are often considered “beautiful” by contemporary standards. While women as leaders might not always emulate Wonder Woman, they are often expected to be somewhat forceful in their appearance and style of leadership. We want our women as leaders to be assertive (defying the traditional female stereotype) though not too assertive. This is a fine line for the Ruby Red woman to walk—a little bit of Ruby Red can be considered substantial (and sometimes threatening) when engaged by women in a leadership role.

While leadership that builds on wisdom usually comes with a prestigious education, we are more likely to find that courageous leaders receive training that prepares them to fight against the enemy. It is much harder to defeat an enemy with a carefully worded argument than to win the war with a well-fought battle. The knowledge needed to be effective as a tactician or strategist can be taught and there are specific planning tools and procedures that are available through management training programs. However, courage cannot be taught, just as wisdom is not readily acquired.

There are ways, nevertheless, in which the Ruby Red leader can prepare ahead of time for battle—especially given that most of the battles being fought in contemporary organizations and communities do not require the wielding of a sword. We do find that the courageous leader has been taught something about tactical and strategic planning as an MBA or MPA student or as a participant in management development programs within their organization or community. Leadership training and policy formulation geared toward Ruby Red action is flourishing at centers such as the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University and (on the other American coast and with a quite different political agenda) at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. It is not enough, in other words, for a warrior to be courageous. The Ruby Red warrior must also be cunning.


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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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