By now, many of us have accepted what was unthinkable in March: We will never really get back to normal. The old world where business leaders could dismiss the idea of a global pandemic as a remote risk no longer exists, and many of our routines and expectations may be forever changed. Meanwhile, moving forward with confidence may be stalled by uncertainties that make it difficult to think long term: Can the business reopen? Can employees send kids to school or day care?
But perhaps being caught between the past and future is not such a bad place to be. That’s where we find the present moment where life actually happens, as John Lennon famously sang, while we’re busy making other plans.
Get Updates on Transformative Leadership
Evidence-based resources that can help you lead your team more effectively, delivered to your inbox monthly.
Please enter a valid email address
Thank you for signing up
Our present moment is rife with opportunity, and the authors whose work you’ll find in the fall issue challenge you to see it and act on it. Morela Hernandez argues that we are living through a time when we’re “unfrozen from the constraints of routine, habits, and norms.” This unfreezing — the result of COVID-19 having swept away a status quo that inhibited change — is a chance for leaders to significantly transform their organizations and society. Hernandez invites us to consider public health, education, supply chains, and the environment, emphasizing that the time is ripe for us to work toward the future we want for ourselves.
Creating that future isn’t just up to leadership; rather, the job of leaders right now is to figure out how to cocreate the future along with their teams and their broader networks, says Linda Hill. Doing so in the face of uncertainty will require possessing, and cultivating in others, the agility to rapidly hypothesize, experiment, learn from those experiments, and pivot to new approaches. Agile leadership “is about leveraging, not reacting to, the turbulence around you,” Hill writes. That requires a calm, clear-eyed awareness of current conditions.
Our past losses may still demand grieving, and the future must still be planned, but when we focus our attention on the here and now, we can see new possibilities arising. Seize your moment.