Back in May I wrote an article headed ‘Leadership in Crisis’ and that “… how we respond to a crisis says more about what we are, and how we lead, than it does about the crisis itself.”

Covid-19 was well and truly with us in May, but it is now 26th October and we have had five months to analyse the performances of our leaders through this terrible pandemic. Our politicians, particularly at State level, have been all over the place. They have all hit hurdles but managed to stay on their feet – only just in some cases.

While I’m sure you have had enough commentary about Premier Dan Andrews, I would like to have the last “Bowens Bulletin’ word on him and his performance. He hit a hurdle very hard in the early stages, and while bruised and battered, he has shown plenty of resilience and remained stoic in staying a course he believes to be correct.

We are all (the Building Industry) included as an essential service to the State so while restricted we have still been able to operate our jobs, our businesses – some with more freedom than others I might add.

Those of us IN work appreciate how lucky we are and certainly I continue to think about the consequences if this had not been the case. So, I really do bleed for anyone in retail, hotels, overseas travel, restaurants etc. All will be revealed eventually but the belief that up to a thousand ‘small’ businesses will never re-open is mind blowing.

Peter Craven wrote in the Australian newspaper, “… yet no-one, or not many, doubts the sincerity of the Premier and the sheer dogged seriousness with which he battles the virus and tells the people of Victoria, over and over, with blinding conviction, that they must stay firm, they must stay true… if they accept the sacrifice, they will conquer.” The new daily cases stats on the 30th September 2020 that showed France at 1,377, UK – 846 and Victoria at 723 … moving to 25,086 (France), 15,650 (UK), and 1 (Victoria) by 17th October 2020 certainly backs the tough stand our Premier has taken.

So, we have been saved from the virus, but many families will not survive bankruptcy, mental health issues, sheer loneliness, etc. Somehow the Premier must now move to opening the economy and getting Victoria ‘on the move’ again.

On the other side of the world we have Trump vs Biden and again we are all sick of that debate with neither candidate providing the confidence we should have with leaders of the ‘Free World’. By the time this Bulletin is in your hands the result will be known, but it would seem that either way the free and not so free world will be left a little worried, if not downright nervous!

As we examine the worthiness of our leaders there is a feeling we have lost our way, that young and old alike have no framework, no guidelines for choosing and adhering to strong values. While it is easy to paint a gloomy picture of what could be termed a ‘Crisis in Values’, one must be careful always to keep in mind the wonderful goodness and innate idealism of our young people. We need to show them a better way forward.

Young people are faced with a rank confusion about ‘value’ in the community. In Trump’s world values are equated with prices or profits, with the merely economic, with the worth, status or social value of a person being judged to be ‘his or her ability to buy an image, the right car, the right house, the right suburb, the right country’. Dan Andrews supporters would say that his way at the moment is to first and foremost value the health and physical well-being of his citizens, and then build the economy back.

Where we head now will be interesting. If we have learnt anything from the pandemic it should be that rights and responsibilities must go together – that ‘values and freedom are inseparable partners’.

While we love the freedom to select personal values and priorities, have we learnt over the last six months that we need a framework of common purpose and beliefs?

Having enjoyed a weekend of AFL and NRL grand finals, I’m reminded of the important part sport plays in providing an example to all of us in finding a way forward. Every player interviewed from each of the teams – both winners and losers – referred to the sacrifices made by players, officials and families. The discipline required in any successful team includes ‘a framework of common purpose and belief’. The cult of individualism which celebrates the freedom to select personal values and priorities has to be put aside to achieve what Richmond and Melbourne Storm did on grand final weekend.

No successful sportsperson can ever say they singly achieved their goal. There is a team, a mentor, behind the Roger Federer’s of this world and while the ability of the individual cannot be denied, that support base is critical in finding a way to the top.

Business is no different and certainly at Bowens, while John Bowen is undoubtedly our leader, there is a framework of common purpose. While we continue to include within that framework respect towards staff, suppliers and customers we feel confident about our future. We know we have a responsibility to actually live the values we believe in and provide a quiet discipline that will help our young staff (in particular) find the right way to a fulfilling job, a fulfilled life.

Hopefully all State Premiers, and our Prime Minister, will sort out the non-team members in our communities by providing a fair framework and a way forward that we can all respond to and support.

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