During my childhood, it took everything in my teachers’ and mother’s power to get me to read books. I preferred being outdoors playing sports or watching television. Things have changed, and I usually read up to three or four books at the same time. Right now, I am reading Future Shock by Alvin Toffler, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#ck by Mark Manson, Contagious, Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger and some light reading with The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis.
It is a far cry from my earlier years of being forced to read during class or nagged to turn off the TV and pick up a book. Most of my motivation for reading the books that I do now, is based on understanding the culture we live in and how we interact in the environment that surrounds us. Further, I want to better understand how to communicate with our society and help serve and lead in my community as a Mayor.
The present COVID-19 pandemic and how we have reacted to it will be an interesting case study for understanding how society and its leaders have managed and the impact on the culture we live in. Municipal politicians are voted in on platforms, not political party ideals and platforms like our federal and provincial governments. In many of the conversations that I am having these days, I have heard people of opposite political stripes appreciate the leadership that the Prime Minister has shown during this pandemic. On the opposite side of the political spectrum, I have heard from others that have appreciated and been impressed with how the Premier of Saskatchewan and the Premier of Ontario have dealt with the pandemic. Their respect has gone beyond their own political party support.
Is what we are experiencing good leadership, or is it something else? If I could address what we are experiencing from a values perspective, this may explain our present situation. To do this, I will use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. The base of the pyramid is the physiological needs, which includes breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep. The next level on the pyramid is “safety and security”, which has health, employment, property, family, and social stability. These two base foundations are what helps us have a stable society which we experience here in Canada. Yes, there are shortcomings in our nation, but these are overall needs that everyone has, and needs we value as a western democratic society.
Leadership today has evolved. We have gone from someone being the boss and directing others to an expectation that our leader is in the trenches with us and what you experience, they experience. These are defining times for society and our culture expects more from people in positions of political servitude.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a health issue which directly attacks the needs and values we all subconsciously have. Being a good leader in this time is ensuring that those needs and values we all inherently experience deep within ourselves are met. If those needs are met, our expectations are met. This response has created a unique sense of unity crossing the political divide and a new respect for others experiencing the same challenges.
People want to live in a safe environment feeling protected from something we cannot see or control. We value safety, and when it is addressed, we recognize those public figures who fill that need without the spectrum of political party colours. Having a strong foundation based on our society’s values will bring out the best in all of us. That, simply put, is good leadership.