Leadership in Dark Times

by | Dec 16, 2020

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
– Anne Frank

It is undeniable that we are all in a shared space that none of us have ever visited before. We are new to this space defined by isolation, fear of illness and the unknown. We are all working to find new ways to connect digitally and remain engaged in the world around us. Human beings are by nature social creatures, we thrive by being together.

Our institutions likewise thrive when there is human interaction. Our organizations thrive on collaboration, and the synchronicity of shared ideas that happen when we are in proximity to one another. For the past many months, we were able to approximate this with outdoor dining, picnics, visits to our families, friends and colleagues in parks and backyards. As the winter begins to close in around us and the days have grown shorter, we will need to find new ways to illuminate our shared experiences and bring some light into this dark time.

It is no surprise that so many cultures have traditions that bring light into our lives at the darkest time of the year. It is what we do, we find ways to fill the void through our own actions. A single act of a leader bringing their team together in new and unexpected ways can be that light. Your team is looking toward you to lift them up when the days are short, and the light is dim. As we all live in this new world of the prolonged liminal space between isolation and the hope of a vaccine, we leaders can make the difference between light and darkness. Some of the most successful leaders are those who acknowledge the reality of difficult situations and continue to keep their teams optimistic. They are able to continue to inspire creativity most especially in difficult times.

This is the moment for leaders to act as a catalyst for creativity and change in order to inspire our organizations to do more than survive, but to actually flourish.

Let’s ring in the New Year with lightness and hope.

Carole Zawatsky believes that tapping the greatest strengths of each individual and teaching them to work toward their natural talents builds the self-confidence needed to grow as a professional. She has excelled at supporting professionals in finding their voice, and letting go of the fears that might hold them back. She is particularly passionate about helping senior staff understand and align their budgets with the institutional mission and vision.

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