Leading in uncertain times (when were they not?) needs confidence. But surely not the blind activist confidence of a red-in-tooth-and-claw A-type leader? ‘Don’t just sit there, DO something!’ Sometimes useful, but often the opposite is truer: ‘Don’t just do something, SIT there’. It’s how we sit that matters, of course. Consciously, aware, patiently, selectively. Irvin Yallom says that by managing the variables of meaning and care we create increasing engagement and motivation.
It’s hard to know what to do at any given time when each of us has a partial view of an unfolding future. What’s needed is for us all to bring these partial perspectives together and create a shared and bigger picture which holds more insight and truth about what is happening – and this better picture allows us to act with more clarity. But what do we need to manage in order to make this sharing of insight happen well? Sharing, is at heart, voluntary and nuanced, so managing meaning and offering a robust care can create better circumstances for the opening up of sharing than compulsive activism.
There’s a wonderful crazy Monty Python sketch about cricket where the commentators talk of ‘supreme display of inertia’ – ‘extremely well not played’ and there is something to say for masterful inactivity. If the conditions have been set and the game needs to play out, what we may need is the discipline of self-control to allow the time to be right, the constellations to align and the events to unpack. And sometimes, like a heron silently patient, the lightning-fast and perfectly-timed strike.