There is something understandable, and at the same time repellent about the Government’s defence of its performance in the pandemic that it was “following the science”.
It is understandable because the pandemic was new, complex and fast, and repellent because it displays a weakness based on a fear of failure. It promotes management over leadership, when we need leadership.
Steve Jobs’ early mentor, Mike Markkula, advised him to follow three principles. The first two were empathy and focus; so far, so good. The third was to impute. What a great word. As Shane Parrish describes it, “what does something signal when you first see it? What does it imply?”
This is where leadership begins, and management ends. Imagination, judgement and risk taking. No evidence, just balls.
Right now, science doesn’t know. We are in a time of the “unknown unknowns.” We need all our senses.
Stephen Hay pointed me at Tom van Gelder’s work. He identifies our twelve senses:
- our body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
- the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
- the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego
Not a mention of science.
Science is a gift and a powerful ally, but it has its limits. It is not something we can hide behind. In today’s conditions, when science gets lost, our humanity has to step up. We need to dance with the immaterial to sense our way forward.
It is scary, the stuff of leadership. That is why it is hard to do, and why we respect it. It is not a qaulification, it is a quality born of effort and integrity.