Leadership in Times of Crises
Keep Calm & We’ll All Get Through This
By Chad Greenslade
I went to get my car inspected on Fri Mar-20, as part of renewing its yearly state registration. The lady at the car shop said to me, "You might want to wait, because with all this craziness and everything shut down, if they can't process your registration renewal in time, you're just going to have to get it inspected again!"
I thought about it for a quick second, taken aback, the only response I could think of was, “Yeah, but it’s a mail-in application.” I knew it wasn’t a very strong retort. She again says, “Everything is shut down; the driver’s license office is shut down!”, as if she was actively trying to get me engaged in her hysteria.
Having a very skeptical view of her impassioned argument, along with my quick determination that she appeared to be hysterical and ignorant, and given the fact that I had already taken the time to drive there, considering the mere $25.50 inspection fee, I decided to risk it.
My renewal application hit the mail on Sat Mar-21. Yesterday, Fri Mar-27, I received my sticker. When you subtract mailing time, that’s a three (3) day turnaround for the county tax assessor’s office to deliver my registration sticker, which apparently, is still functioning.
My point with this anecdote is that everyone needs to remain calm. Here’s a lady, right in the middle of Prosper, TX, actively spewing uninformed garbage like it’s gospel, stating the government is shutdown and I should forego my legally required automobile inspection and registration. How many other people did she convince of her narrative?
The world is not ending. Do you know what I’ve done since this quarantine began? Work. Work every day. Long hours. It has upended the Clients that my company serves and we’ve had to pivot sharply. We all have a role to play. Go to work, if you can. Pay your bills, buy your groceries. I think we can all manage to keep ourselves indoors if we’re sick and only venture out for essentials for a while. Take a socially distant walk. Exercise. Listen to the leaders that you trust; you know that you have a few whom you consider to be moderate or reasonable. Pay attention to what’s happening at the federal level so that you can take advantage of the $2 trillion in cash that’s about to hit the market. If we all don’t freak out, we can adapt to this crisis with grace and class.
I’m fortunate to have a job I can do from home. My Clients, however, are in all industries, and are all struggling to make sense of the new world. As a leader in my company, I have to act level-headed at all times. The biggest call to action for me was to keep everyone focused and on-task. Find ways to push forward. Listen to Clients and Employees and quickly adjust. Succinctly communicate facts and limit opinion. Be open and honest, diligent and principled. New opportunities will present themselves that can benefit everyone. My largest account is shrinking by 50%, but I have other Clients that are increasing demand. I know that my company can’t effectively respond to these changing conditions without leadership at all levels, acting like leaders.
We are all leaders of something or someone in life. Maybe it’s your children. If you have the word “manager” in your work title, someone in an actual business, that participates in the actual economy, is looking to you for direction. Step-up. Engage. Don’t indulge in fear and paranoia. There will be no nationwide martial law, no FEMA concentration camps. There will be no nationwide suspension of habeas corpus. If the military does get deployed, it won’t be nationwide and it won’t be for long periods of time. When it does happen, remember, THEY ARE AMERICANS AND THEY ARE THERE TO HELP. Trust me, they’d much rather be in the US helping people than in a war zone. Look at what the National Guard is doing in NY State; building hospitals, distributing aid. No one’s coming for your guns. Governor Abbot just clarified his order that gun stores can remain open; god bless him.
There’s no place I’d rather be for this crisis. Texas is a proud, strong state. We pull together in times of crisis, not push apart. We’ve seen it time and time again. Every time a disaster happens, neighbors help neighbors. We don’t pillage and loot. We don’t take advantage of others. Our Republican government is clearly focused on getting our economy restarted, above all else. Economies don’t work when society is in a state of civil unrest. No one wants that. Everyone is pulling in the same direction; care for the sick and get the economy restarted. In third-world countries ran by actual dictators, they’d simply round up all the sick and burn them to death. Think about that and why it will never happen in the US. We’re armed to the teeth. There are more civilians than soldiers. Eventually, it’s just a numbers game. No pilot is going to fly a bombing campaign over their own people; it’s an illegal order, and pilots know that. Finally, I highly doubt any service member would ever take up arms against fellow American citizens. The government, the military, FEMA, everyone – it’s all us. It’s you and me. We all know (or were) someone in the military, someone that works for the city, county, or state, someone who is a police officer, etc. In this particular crisis, we’re seeing state and local leaders step-up, at least as much as the federal government. Democrats and Republicans may be bickering, but I believe that most are trying to do their best and protect the citizens under their jurisdiction or representation. Both Democrats and Republicans are being forced to work together. Our government may be slow, but we will eventually rise to the challenge.
Fellow Gen-Xers, I’m looking at you. We are uniquely qualified to navigate this crisis. We’ve lived through countless other crises. Not much fazes us. We have a duty to help those who are struggling to cope with this crisis. This is our opportunity to step-up. At best, this is just momentary blip at the midpoint in your life; at worst, decisions we make now will impact the remainder of our lives, and most likely the lives of others. Consider this weight when acting.
Chad Greenslade studied Information Systems at the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated Magna Cum Laude.