What “And Just Like That,” the Truckers’ Revolt, and the Great Resignation Can Teach Leaders
Issue 191 — February 21, 2022
If you were eagerly awaiting the “Sex and the City” reboot, “And Just Like That,” perhaps you were one of many who concluded that you can’t go home again and expect it to be a satisfying visit.
I loved the iconic television series back in the day. Yet I can see that trying to update it while maintaining the elements that made it so much fun in its first go-round was an impossible task. Because its current iteration takes place in a culture chastened by a pandemic and awakened to deep seated racial injustice that makes the whiteness of the original four female friends, especially in one of the world’s most diverse cities, seem so out of place.
The inseparable women friends themselves — Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) three now instead of the original four following the story line death of Samantha (Kim Cattrall) — are 18 years older. And writing in characters of color was an important and needed addition that didn’t quite mesh
The world has simply changed so much, as it always does, but moreso than ever in these tectonically shifting days. Rather than trying to reconstruct what was, we must grapple with questions of what to create now. That’s a much harder task.
The lesson for leaders is that, as Buckminster Fuller said, “You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
That change has happened and we must now intentionally build new models. The evidence is all around, and the task of leadership is to grasp the moment to define the future rather than trying to anticipate it.
The Great Resignation Is a Great Rethink Propelled by the Great Disruptions
People are quitting job like nursing where they are underpaid, undervalued, and/or just plain stressed out. Moms are saying enough is enough and refusing to go back into a workplace that isn’t flexible enough to accommodate the reality that they are bearing the brunt of caregiving despite all the career ceilings they have broken through.
These are individual reactions and choices to be sure, but collectively they are the catalyst for significant systems changes that make the existing models, which women have said for years needed changing, obviously obsolete. Hybrid work will likely be the future. Technology will continue to make greater work and workplace flexibility possible. Cracks in traditional structures enable new ideas to seep in.
As an example,“The pandemic gave us the opportunity to innovate and connect, to discover those areas that we had neglected with traditional journalism,” writes Maritza L. Félix, an award-winning journalist, Founder of Conecta Arizona, and a graduate of Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism.
Stress and the City
Broad social upheavals challenge leaders to be bold and create entirely new processes and structures within which people can thrive. Human beings often act out in destructive ways when their stress levels elevate. This is true of individual self destructive behavior such as self-harm common in people suffering from PTSD and of social or community wide reactions to shared trauma such as mass shootings or natural disasters. The truckers’ revolt in Canada and the January 6 insurrection in the U.S. may well be as much evidence of the pandemic’s impact as are the individuals’ decisions to reevaluate their career choices.
As we gingerly emerge from the pandemic and social disruptions, we have communal PTSD. Yes, a whole society can have it because we are social creatures. We feel each other’s pain and it ricochets amongst our psyches as surely as we share the joy of winning a team sport or being together at Madison Square Garden experiencing Billy Joel play all his old favorite songs. (Yes I was there for “The Return” concert and the collective happiness was palpable.)
Leadership at times like this makes all the difference.
This is not about a single pandemic, though COVID is the current disruption that sent the world to its knees. It’s about how we lead through disruption with the help of a thought and action process I call “Intentioning.” Its three parts for leaders universally are vision, courage, and action.
For there will be other pandemics. There will be other massive disruptions — technologies that change how we work and live, weather events from hurricanes and tornadoes to all-out climate change, global conflicts, and of course infectious diseases. And there will be the constant individual disruptions we all face in our lives, from business setbacks to losing people we love. What we once thought of as normal will never be again.
If we merely try to replicate the past in order to give ourselves the illusion of stability, we will fail and the world will miss out on so much innovation. If leaders create better and bigger tables that will shift the culture from oppressive power over to generative power TO, all of society will benefit. If we simply replicate existing tables, we won’t have gained anything significant. Rather than trying to increment progress, we must take risks and create new paradigms.
Like Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte, we are in a completely different world than the one we began with. As we consider how to build back better, let us take this once in a lifetime opportunity to envision a new future and have the courage to act to make it a reality.
GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of five books, most recently Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. Her signature 9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career online course is described as “life changing” and “jet fuel for my career” by participants. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.