Anyone who has advised senior leaders in an organisation will have had the conversation about walking the walk. There are many occasions in my corporate life when I have had to act as the conscience of the organisation. I have reminded those at the top that they need to be living the values that they talk about. They need to embody what they want staff to be.
It is no surprise that this morning’s announcement that Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson are not isolating even though they have been ‘pinged’ by the NHS app has been met with anger and frustration. With many thousands of people being told to isolate meaning they have to take time off work, some without pay, and being forced to change their lives again it is understandable that questions would be asked. (UPDATE: an hour and a half after writing this No10 are now saying they will self isolate – clearly recognising the anger and frustration that I talked about.)
Whether it is double standards or not, the fact that it appears this way is incredibly damaging. If there is a justifiable reason for the difference then it needs to be clearly and carefully explained. Unfortunately, that is not what I have seen this morning while watching the usual round of Sunday morning political shows. When questioned about why the Government can use the new system but small businesses are not able to there was no credible explanation.
Crises have the ability to draw people together or to pull people apart. It is in the long term management of a crisis and the move towards recovery that fractures can become more obvious and deeper. As we get ready for tomorrow and the unhelpfully named ‘freedom day’ communities have become more separate than a year ago when there was a united front to get through the lockdown.
So where do we go from here? From tomorrow we all need to make some risk assessments linked to our personal circumstances. We also need to be patient with other people who may be concerned, trying to work things out or may challenge our approach. None of us have lived through a pandemic before and a little kindness can go a long way. But I would also ask people to think a bit further ahead than tomorrow. Start to consider what your future may look like, what you need to do, how you want to live, and how you may be able to help others in difficult circumstances. Resilience will be critical for us all in the weeks and months ahead.
Thinking about what you do and how it is perceived is essential for those in Government around the world. Lots of regulations have been put in place, lots has been said, and there is lots of guidance so following it is fundamental to encouraging others to do the same. It is time to walk the walk not just talk the talk.