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

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

What about the less “distinguished” warriors at our supermarkets and pharmacies? They have received some training and are (perhaps) motivated by the mission and spirit of the organization in which they are employed. What about the courage of those sanitizing our offices and those delivering food and essential produces to our stores and homes? These men and women are living in the shadows of our communities—with little attention being given to their services or their welfare.

Are these women and men in the community shadows somehow more courageous than the rest of us or are they just doing their job? Perhaps it is a simple matter of economics. They need a job to support their family and have decided (or often are forced to decide) that the risk is worth the economic payoff (however meager). Their courage and loyalty might be housed not in the organization that has employed them, but in their commitment to the welfare of their family. This may often be at the heart of their sacrifice – and their courage. And this commitment is just as admirable as Ruby Red actions taken by the fabled Alexander the Great.

Courageous/Ruby Red Strategies

The key to wholehearted acceptance of and sustained support for a courageous leader (whether distinguished or unacknowledged) resides in the formulation of a Courageous/Ruby Red strategy. The first phase of this strategy requires the identification of an enemy that is both powerful and persistent. A key question is posed: What triggers the sense of “enemy”? At one level the answer to this question is obvious: someone or some group is an enemy if it is threatening—if its intentions are not honorable, if it is capable of posing a threat, and if this threat is detectable to the enemy’s opponent.

At a neuropsychological level, we can say that an enemy is threatening if it triggers a strong reaction from our Amygdala (a small neuro-structure located in our mid-brain that is often identified as the seat of our emotions). Many years ago, Charles Osgood (1957) proposed that humans tend to categorize almost everything into three binary categories: (1) good or bad, (2) active or passive, and (3) strong or weak. Using a factor-analysis-based tool called the Semantic Differential, Osgood made a persuasive case for the impact of these three categories on the ways in which we structure our world. Given the more recent research on the role played by the Amygdala, perhaps it is this mid-brain neurological structure that does the categorizing of everything into these three categories. Something is viewed as threatening if it is bad (not interested in our welfare), if it is active and if it is strong.


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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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