Indeed, we are in strange times and yes, it is unprecedented, but business leaders are stepping up to the plate to respond to this crisis. And let’s not kid ourselves, this is a global crisis and life will not be the same at the other end. I genuinely think that life will be a little better and that we will learn from the lessons being taught to us in such stark light.
Some businesses will undoubtedly succumb to the economic and social pressures that COVID-19 has brought with it and with that, the personal impacts of unemployment and uncertainty. But there is light surrounding this earth-altering situation, and green shoots of hope are already popping up. COVID – 19 is ravaging our way of life in the same way that forest fires ripped through Australia this summer, but nature is returning there and the same will happen post COVID. Where some businesses fail, others will prosper. Where unemployment emerges, new jobs will be found. And where demand is left wanting, new businesses will deliver and grow once again. Don't think me naive, I know that suffering and heartache will be there too, but there will be hope and prosperity once again.
Those setting us up for that prosperity are the business leaders who have the emotional intelligence to recognise that traditional ‘compete to defeat’ approaches to business will not lead to real success in the future. Fierce competitors are collaborating and innovating to create solutions to new problems such as rapidly building hospitals, delivering critical services to the community and repurposing production for clinical products. Distilleries like Bombay Sapphire Gin and breweries like Brew Dog are turning their production lines to hand sanitiser, G4S and Wilson James are collaborating to secure London’s Nightingale hospital, Pharma companies have created an alliance to develop a potential plasma-derived therapy for treating COVID-19 and engineering companies like Babcock International shifting manufacturing to quickly produce ventilators.
In the years ahead from now, people will ask, “what did you do during the COVID-19 crisis?”. The answer we all hope to give is one that solidifies us as individuals and organisations that ‘did the right thing’. Be it volunteering, collaborating with competitors, intelligently supplying a need, repurposing production or simply staying at home.
I hope that many other leaders follow in the footsteps of those doing 'the right thing' and remember the example they set for the future. Perhaps the indiscriminate nature of this virus will encourage a future business-culture of true inclusivity and set a common purpose of bettering society long into the future.