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COVID-19 EHS&S Resources

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Leadership in Uncertain Times

Mar 18, 2020, 12:00 AM by Victoria Waskowicz
In uncertain times, what do we know for sure? As history tells us, it's in time like these that true leaders emerge, demonstrating compassion, stability, trust, hope and inspiration for the days ahead. Here are 11 timeless leadership lessons to keep in mind.
We find ourselves in uncertain times. A deadly virus has impacted the daily lives of nearly everyone on the planet. Who would have thought that in a few short weeks, our routine could have been uprooted so dramatically.

In all of this uncertainty, as we yearn for assurances, what do we know for sure? Well, as history tells us, it's in time like these that true leaders emerge. Typically, they demonstrate compassion, stability, trust, hope and inspiration for the days ahead. They are our lights in a dark place. Studies of the lives of men and women who shaped history, as documented in "Profiles in Leadership" (Alan Axelrod, 2003), revealed some leadership lessons that are valid in this trying time and will be just as applicable in the future. 

Timeless Leadership Lessons

  1. Optimism does not mean fostering delusions. Present all difficulties frankly and fully.
  2. Face the truth and speak the truth. Honesty is the best policy.
  3. Build a team of the best available advisors.
  4. Know when to ask for help.
  5. Empower others.
  6. Act decisively. Often a good solution now is better than a great solution later.
  7. Keep plans flexible. Be open to new data.
  8. When a problem surfaces, fix it. Don't cast blame.
  9. Never give up.
  10. Facing difficult realities does not require pessimism.
  11. It's never a bad leadership choice to advocate for what's right and just.

"Leadership is action, not position."
— Donald H. McGannon (1920 – 1984), broadcasting industry executive

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Quick Polls

A benefit for NAEM corporate members, Quick Polls allow fast, confidential benchmarking within the NAEM corporate member network. Quick Polls related to the COVID-19 response include:

  • Returning to Work After COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Telecommuting Protocols
  • Coronavirus Temperature Screening
  • Coronavirus and Future Sustainability Goals
  • Coronavirus Protocols
  • Coronavirus: Disinfecting Workplaces
  • Coronavirus Testing and Green Cleaning Products
  • Coronavirus Travel Restrictions
  • Coronavirus Screening
  • Coronavirus in China and Southeast Asia

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