Apprehension about doing too much too soon in today’s crisis is all too prevalent in certain business and political circles. Or, as some prefer to say, “We fear that the cure will be worse than the disease.”
When this scourge is over and those left standing count the casualties, who will explain to the survivors – and a horrified nation – what we could have done but didn’t?
Ironically, if America at war has taught us anything over the years, the lesson is that it’s a great engine of change, invention, and wealth for some – and a way into the middle class for others.
Yes, wars spend money foolishly, carelessly, and sometimes illegally. That’s the definition of crisis response until we stumble, fumble, and bungle our way to victory. Yet, if your spouse, child, father, or grandmother is a victim, what is the death count that is an acceptable trigger to an all-out effort? Obfuscating, with happy talk, wishful thinking, and false hopes, “warm weather will arrive and it will all go away,” is what causes reputation destruction.
Obstruction that prevents productive action and exacerbates pain can never be adequately explained. Ask Boeing or Wells Fargo. Ultimately, their weak responses to systemic wrongdoing, even authorizing shortcuts and lax oversight, were seen as a cover-ups for a multiplicity of intentional wrong decisions.
Too many in the business community have become too comfortable advocating that we do relatively little to ease the crisis, while shifting the blame and responsibility to others. Contrast that with the resolute leadership demonstrated by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and other state and local leaders, who have communicated forcefully and compassionately from the start of the crisis and tried to make us recognize the threat it poses.
When the cultural pathologists examine our handling of this crisis, few of our noble deeds will survive scrutiny against the destruction that could – and should – have been prevented by doing too much too soon.
Jim Lukaszewski is the co-author of The Decency Code, The Leader’s Path to Integrity and Trust, from McGraw Hill.