We Could Be Heroes

Black and white image of David Bowie performing

What is leadership? I reflect on this question quite a lot, but since COVID-19 reached our shores, it has been pushed to the forefront of my consciousness. There are scores of papers and books on leadership outlining a series of common themes: competency, humility, humanity, empathy, values, decisiveness, empowerment, transparency, and honesty. A leader will inspire people to go where they normally wouldn’t, to stretch beyond their comfort zone, to drive themselves to a common goal for the better of all not one. There is an abundance of great examples we see every day, in our government officials, in our workplace management, by influential business people, and even in some celebrities. 

As consultants, we understand that a good program/project manager may be a great taskmaster but may not be a good leader. We look to leaders who can inspire a team to succeed on a challenging and stressful assignment, and who will engender the confidence of the client’s team who are often being asked to provide time and energy while continuing to do their day job. An effective business leader will motivate individuals for project and organizational goals, and successful outcomes. A good leader will help raise the confidence level of team members and self-satisfaction of the team.

At Citisoft, we look to our consultants to exhibit leadership qualities both internally and with our clients. “Leadership” is a critical part of everyone’s annual evaluation, as we endeavor to recognize those inherent leaders, nurture their skills, and work to engender those skills in others. Every year we present one of our consultants with the Rowan award, recognizing their leadership within the firm and with our clients. The winner is not always on the biggest, most challenging, or profitable assignment but may be the person who has had a positive impact across the organization.   

The hero is a special kind of person that often goes unrecognized except in a time of extreme circumstances. As consultants, we see heroes on projects all the time. They are the ones who step in to get things done. When a deadline is looming, they work extra hours to complete critical tasks, they volunteer to help others, they are instrumental to a project’s success. They are driven by commitment to the goal and by their values to do the right thing often in support of the overall team. Every project has heroes and often they are the ones who bring it over the finish line. It is true that not all heroes are leaders and not all leaders are heroes, but sometimes they are both. To be clear, you need leaders and heroes to run a successful project.

This brings me back to the times we are living. In the throes of the COVID-19 crisis, where we see a high risk for people’s health and safety, a meltdown of the economy, and a blow to many people’s financial stability, we see great leaders emerging. We look to them to offer a semblance of structure, a calming influence, up to date information, and a light at the end of the tunnel.

What about the heroes? We can find them everywhere and so many people are stepping up. Frontline workers are running into the fray to help others, driven by their loyalty to their calling, to their oath to aid and protect, sometimes putting their own safety at risk. Then there are the heroes that heretofore have often gone unrecognized: the postal workers, delivery people, store workers, trash workers, and so many more, dedicated to keeping the country running, working to support their families and making it possible for the rest of us to stay in our homes, where we are safe. And what about the volunteers, the sewing circles, the elderly call trees? These heroes have always been there doing their work, but we see them now as they are called to the extreme. Make note of these leaders and heroes, and think about it, are you one of them?

Image: Roger Woolman (license)