It has been a strange and sombre week. As I witness the immense crowds gathered in London to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II – and indeed the strength of feeling evident across all corners of the nation during this period of national mourning – I am reminded of the innate human desire for strong, moral leadership.
Whatever your beliefs, there is no doubt that in times of change or uncertainty, we all turn to leaders for guidance and stability. The past week has seen a wide range of emotions amongst employees and customers alike. As business leaders, we have been called upon to act with respect and compassion; to care for our people whilst having to make difficult decisions for which there is no living precedent.
Yet the events of the past week have come against the backdrop of a mounting set of challenges for our nation – and there is no doubt there is further turbulence to come. Widespread industrial action, the rising cost of living and the introduction, just weeks ago, of a new Government, have all served to drive ever-deepening fractures in our society; fractures that I fear will remain long after The Queue has gone.
As leaders, we have a responsibility to unite our people. If we genuinely believe in our organisation’s purpose, are clear about the direction of travel – and listen, reflect and adjust on the delivery aspects – we can maintain our own sense of what is right. We should also demonstrate empathy and understanding for the different issues affecting our employees, customers and stakeholders – behaving ethically and with integrity to ensure that we all feel respected despite the range of opposing worldviews we face. As pressures continue to mount, it is incumbent on us to maintain calm and focus; communicating clearly and honestly to inspire trust and temper anxiety.
Never has the need for unity been so great – and amongst the turbulence, we have a real opportunity to demonstrate our values through action. Now is the time to galvanise the true spirit of our service nation – uniting behind our core common values of doing the right thing, behaving ethically and treating people with respect to pull our service nation together.