In these corrosive days of the corona pandemic, if there is one institution that has come under barrage of attacks then it is the world’s leadership. Some school of thought are of the view that most of our leaders did not nay are not showing enough leadership in the fight against this deadly virus which has shaken the foundation of the world to its core. While as some are of the view that world’s leaders have been overwhelmed by the current situation and thus the virus seems to be ahead of humanity and so the unmitigated measures or protocols being put in place must be commended.
Indeed the maxim “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” encapsulates the whole idea that leaders bear ultimate responsibility of their organizations. This again is demonstrable in an old maritime tradition that has long held that captain goes down with the ship. And the former US President Truman’s desk was famously adorned with a plaque that read, “The buck stops here”. It is therefore needless to assert that leaders historically have accepted, at least in theory, that they bear responsibility for both the good and bad.
Leadership in turbulent times
Governments, institutions and businesses alike are today scrambling to cope with a highly uncertain and rapidly evolving landscape with the outbreak of this novel covid-19. Approaches have been varied as have the results. The most effective leaders are instinctively or intentionally tapping into the principles of crisis management.
We are not in normal times and our way of life has been tremendously altered by this virus.
Things are not the same as they used to be. And change, especially during crises, disrupts people’s expectations of the future, reducing their sense of control and their ability to process information. It is against this background that best practices for communicating with the public during this pandemic must be adopted.
The question is during the crisis, what do people hear? And how do they respond to what they hear? Information dissemination is thus an important ingredient in the fight against the virus. This means that information given out must not be inundated with political coloration.
Facts first, because in times of crisis, fact matters; in times of division facts unite and in times of despair, facts comfort. Facts are facts. They are not colored by emotions or bias and they are indisputable. Once facts are established, opinions can be formed. And while opinions matter, they do not change the facts.
Provision of PPEs & Health Logistics
Personal Protective Equipmentis very important in preventing transmission of the coronavirus not only in treatment centers but also various activities, e.g., cleaning, waste management and safe burials. The PPEs include: gloves, mask, gown, face shield, head cover, rubber boots etc. The provision of some essential health logistics such as ventilators and medical consumables is also key in the fight against this pandemic. The global shortage of these medical items has really brought out the ingenuity and the creativity of man as many have resorted to producing some of these items locally. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. However a synergy of these talents and local industries must be harnessed going forward so that countries can produce locally to support their economies.
Protocols& Political Will
The WHO has outlined a number of protocols that must be ensured in the fight against this deadly virus and these include; Testing, contact tracing, social distancing interventions ( ban on large gatherings), compulsory wearing of nose masks, washing of hands under running water with soap and the use of alcohol-based hands sanitizers. Many governments in their bid to control the spread of the virus have expanded the above mentioned measures to include temporally closure of borders, and fumigation of some public places. Even though there is some legislative instrument to back the enforcement and the compliance of some of these measures, there are some which are left to the discretion of the citizenry and I believe there must be that political will by governments to enact laws that will ensure that these protocols are not being flouted with impunity.
Economic Policy Response
Financial experts are of the view that the coronavirus pandemic has brought the global economy to its knees and is likely to result in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression more than 90years ago. Already with the struggling and staggering economies, some countries have rolled out some stimuli package such as: reducing tariffs on some essential commodities, supporting small scale businesses, provision of free water and electricity and the giving of freebies to the unemployed. Even though many leaders are trying to offer the best, some have been criticized for doing little or nothing to ameliorate the hardship and suffering brought upon the citizenry by this pandemic. This notwithstanding care should be taken by the handlers of the economy not to plunge the already suffocating economy into an intensive care unit, (ICU) in their effort to provide some social interventions.
In conclusion this is not the time to envy leaders because a lot is on their shoulders and all eyes are fixed on them to deliver. But real leaders are not born and the ability to help others triumph over adversity is not written in their genetic code. They are instead revealed. They are forged in crisis. Leaders become “real” when they practice a few key behaviors that gird and inspire people through difficult times.And this includes being responsible and transparent in accounting to the people who has been put in charge.
Rev. Fr. Isaac Atta Mensah