Academy Street Workshop
If you know me well you know that I'm an Aaron Sorkin fan. Whether it's The West Wing, The Newsroom, Sports Night or even the much misunderstood Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip it is rare that I go more than a couple of weeks without rewatching a favourite episode or two. Why this (almost) obsession? Well of course Sorkin is one of the best script writers of his generation and nobody has ever written dialogue so well. "You want answers?" "I want the truth!" "You can't handle the truth!!" But what draws me most to Sorkin's writing is his never ending optimism and belief that humanities better demons will always win out. Sure we'll make mistakes, put money before relationships and sleep with the wrong people but at least in Sorkin's world, we'll always make up for it, say sorry and try to make better decisions in the future. Where am I going with this? Well if you know The West Wing - and I struggle to understand how you wouldn't, you'll know that the President has a constant and vital catchphrase used throughout the series. No matter how bad things are going - War being waged, economy in crisis, polling figures on the floor Sorkin - through the President - reminds us that we have to continue "What's Next?" A simple phrase that says - I've heard you, I understand where we are, there's nothing more to be said right now. Let's move on. Our current situation with Covid 19 is beyond precedent. Things are bad and will get worse. We're all trying our best to keep going. and it's hard. Uncertainty is the only thing we're certain of. These are our truths and we need to accept them. We are no longer in control and as challenging as this is we need to accept it. "Whats Next" Leadership is about looking forward. Good leaders know the importance of raising their eyes above whats in front of them and focusing on the horizon. Good leaders know that plotting a clear course is what helps their crew steer the ship to safety. Right now our society is lost. Everything we were sure of has been messed with. Even basic human contact - hugging, shaking hands, sharing a pint - have been taken from us. Your team and your organisation are lost because they are no longer sure where they are going. Our normal has been taken from us. It's time to lead. In many ways there is no point in fixating on how you get through this week and the next. We will all do what needs to be done and hope its enough. There is no way to know whether a campaign due to launch next week should be cancelled or not. Will people being at home mean it will reach more people? Will the distraction of Covid 19 mean nobody will be interested in the campaign anyway? Is it the right thing? Is it the wrong thing? We don't know - nobody knows We'll all make a call based on our best guess and see how it goes. What we can do as leaders is look to the horizon. Why does your organisation exist? What is your organisation trying to achieve? What is getting in the way of you achieving this? Now that everything is broken can we rebuild in a better stronger way? How do we prepare for the new normal? It is up to you to set the new course so that your team don't beat themselves up trying to stick to the previous plan. They need guidance. So what do you do? Take in everything that's going on around you and your organisation. Make decisions and give your team clear direction. Then take some time, breathe and raise your eyes to the horizon. The new course is out there, it's up to you to find it. The last lines of the of The West Wing Finale feature the now former president on a plane having left office. As he stares out the window his wife asks "What are you thinking about?" He looks at her and replies "Tomorrow"