COVID-19 and the triple bottomline – Emphasis on people
By Natasja Beyleveld
Managing Director, NaMedia.
The salmon run takes guts and effort, still knowing that you will die afterwards. You fight for the survival of your species and for a new life cycle to begin. It is a difficult journey that all salmon embark on in their adult lives.
What happens when leadership fails their journey’s purpose by means of self-interest?
Donald Trump, and the political circus hosted in America. Parastatals allocating hefty bonuses to executives amidst local businesses losing out on N$20 billion due to the impact of Covid-19 on Namibia’s economy. It is no secret that Covid`19 has had us all treading water. Had us ‘going through the motions’ rather than proactively leading outside the comfort zone at times. Had us questioning our purpose and intent. Questioning this difficult journey, perhaps not wanting to return from the ocean to the river just yet. Perhaps healing took place on other levels, towards establishing what in fact is healthy for the economy, and for our citizens.
Self-doubt is a natural process in life, therefore the need to have well established networks and peers to ‘bounce off’ with.
Starting off with media-hype pertaining to Harambee some years ago, what vision have we been sharing passionately? What behaviour(s) are counter-productive in terms of furthering our educational, ethical, and growth-orientated needs? What are we excusing and therewith encouraging?
The best leaders are uncomfortable with being comfortable. Say that twice. You will not be alone, but you will also not be popular when your light unblinds the obvious.
Where there is no communication; disconnection is happening. Disconnecting is also a choice, and a behaviour where you choose to create distance from feelings, emotions, situations, stress, action, in fact – from implementation. It is to avoid. To connect, asks from you to confront openly, and to be honest. To become vulnerable is to become relatable. If you avoid this you also allow yourself to remain in the prison cell, choosing misery above uncertainty. Life was not meant to be easy, but it sure is a beautiful privilege and commitment.
Back to the point, do we at times subconsciously allow disconnection as the norm? Is disconnected leadership at the mid of the storm, when our focus is directed to Profit, and Planet – not as much to People? We tend to count on Profit, Performance – as the only certainty; because it ‘makes sense’ and is clear in statistics.
When disconnecting, explore whether this action is ego-centrical, purely competitive, the unwillingness to learn, or by choice. When we lose trust in leadership by becoming disengaged, we are not changing or allowing change to propel the situation forward. The fact is that our leadership needs you, and your critically active support.
The Birth of New Confidence
‘Speaking up’ assists the processing of information that helps us accept change-for-the-better. Are we being heard, with messaging above the awareness threshold? 2020 saw most media coverage directed towards donations and sponsorships for housing, agriculture, vaccines, safety against Covid-19, against gender-based violence, and the digitalisation of systems and processes in business. Around 60% of the global population still has no computers or access to the internet.
Digital divide has become the new inequality-scale.
We were deprived from large events, sport activities, arts, and performance – effectively contributing to social disconnect and the (fun) shared confidence in a community. Take away social, and you have isolation that easily becomes counter-productive. The Dalai Lama said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us how interdependent we are: what happens to one person can soon affect many others, even on the far side of our planet. Therefore, it is up to all of us to try to cultivate peace of mind and to think about what we can do for others, including those that we never see. It is natural to feel worry and fear at a time when so many are suffering. But only by developing calmness and clear-sightedness can we help others and, in so doing, even help ourselves. In my own life, I have often found that it is the most difficult challenges that have helped me gain strength.”.
Confidence is in essence to stay connected regardless of challenges, and to make it personal and not generic. It is sharing the challenges and voicing out against fear, depression, abuse, and neglect. So many citizens are silenced in depression and fear of the unknown, with no safety nets in place. Leaders that shares in the confidence of their people are the ones that aim to move forward.
So, what does this mean for us in the aftermath of Covid-19?
Sandra Galea, Professor of Epidemiology at the Boston University best sums it up; “It means that we need to take a long, hard look at the social and economic systems that underlie how we live, work and play. It means that we need to question why there are deep asset gaps between haves and have nots, and to ask why we continue to have long entrenched marginalisation of minority racial and ethnic groups.
Importantly, these are social problems, not biological ones. And social problems are harder to address and deal with. But Covid-19 should give us the reasons – finally – not to rest until we have restructured our world so that there are no health haves and health have nots, and that we are investing in the forces – like safe housing, good schools, liveable wages, gender equity, clean air, drinkable water, a fair economy – that create a healthier world”.