Future of Leadership Podcast

Leading through Crisis - Why Context Matters!

This episode of the FLI Podcast concerns itself first and foremost with the issue of leadership, its different aspects and the subsequent implications for managers and officials around the globe. This time Sebastian Morgner is joined by acclaimed author, Harvard Professor and thought leader Barbara Kellerman.

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After a quick exchange regarding the overall adjustments in work and private life, that have been consequent to the Covid-19 outbreak, the conversation touches on the issue of government behaviour. In that context, Prof. Kellerman points out the dilemma that leaders must face right now: on the one hand, there is the health risk imposed by the virus itself, on the other hand there is the issue of  economic downturn as a result of trying to prevent the former. This complex balance is what managers and government officials have to master in order to reduce the overall level of ambiguity.

Barbara Kellerman points out that a leadership system always consists of three elements: the leader, the followers and the context the interact. Asked if she thinks the virus will change how we as a society go about handling difficult situations, Prof. Kellerman is not only optimistic. She beliefs that mankind is not made to act proactively based on insight, especially if one is not yet directly affected by the matter of concern. Adding to this, she explains how the virus has, at least in the short term, rather been promoting nationalism than unity.

Thereafter, the conversation turns towards the heavily discussed issue of the WHO. In this, Prof. Kellerman holds the opinion, that while the organisation may not be perfect, having a global institution in place nevertheless is paramount to our world community. Closely related to this, they also touch upon the conspiracy theory that has risen around Bill Gates and his role in battling the Covid-19 outbreak as well as the general bashing of public leaders in our modern-day society. Barbara Kellerman is concerned about the increasing lack of respect for important leadership positions driven by social media. Respect towards a public office or authority is on one hand needed to attract decent and qualified people to take over responsibility, on the other hand to create trust and followership in times of crisis.

To conclude the podcast, Prof. Kellerman reflects on how the pandemic has already changed our contextual perception of what is the status quo and how this might change our shared ways of behaviour especially at the workplace.

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