If you are like me, you have wondered what it all means. You have questioned what and how much to believe. And even considered whom to blame for the whole state of affairs.
Unchecked and unchallenged, the natural and likely outcome of our situation leads to increased strain and separation. There is an antidote to our condition, however, but it requires action.
Will we allow fear to define our response, or choose to lead with love? That question was recently posed by Brian Paradis, author of the compelling book Lead With Imagination and senior partner of CSuite Solutions, a national advisory firm focused on creating growth strategies for health care organizations.
"In my own experience, when I have sometimes had a courageous moment to be open to the truth, I have noticed a pattern. The biggest leadership and life mistakes I make happen when fear is flying high. I fail to choose love and allow its power to reframe my perspective and inform my response," Paradis shared with me.
Paradis recalled a time early in his tenure as the leader of a large hospital system, preparing for a consultant's briefing of a quality and safety assessment. Early indications were that it was not going to be good.
Paradis informed the medical staff leadership that while he intended to share the full report, eventually, that the first hearing would be for hospital executives only. He rationalized it, like a family intervention, stating "You wouldn't invite the cousins and neighbors to such an event. It's going to be messy."
The doctors came to the meeting anyway. "They understood something I hadn't," said Paradis. "My definition of family was wrong, because it didn't include them. In a hospital, doctors are family!"
Then there was the time Paradis insisted his senior leadership team was not "rounding" on their staff as he had instructed them to. They strongly disagreed and assured him they were.
Without even realizing it, and in a moment, he was indirectly (OK, maybe directly) insinuating they were lying to him. "That evening, as it began to dawn on me what I had done, I was on the phone apologizing to each one, and following that with a public apology at our next meeting," shared Paradis.
As leadership practitioners and coaches of leaders, Paradis and I both agree that fear is not our friend and needs to be eradicated. Fear understands little of our interconnectedness, the values we desire to live up to, or the legacy we wish to leave. "Fear is an incompetent teacher. And fear will not take us to a better world and out of this current crisis. Only love will," says Paradis.