Countless books and articles tell you all about business leadership in normal times. There are fewer such resources about leadership during a crisis, and those usually deal with a crisis inside a single company or industry. But there are no books or articles about how to exercise leadership in a worldwide pandemic and global economic breakdown—or, at least, that was the case when this article was written this summer. No doubt, by the date of publication, there will be a business bestseller or two on the subject.
But while the opportunity to be first out of the gate has now passed, the need for crisis leadership assuredly has not. A more severe “second wave” of COVID-19 (assuming we’ve gotten past the first wave by now) could crest this winter. Lockdowns could be reinstated; public-health systems could fall into disarray.
If now seems like a strange time to be talking about something as relatively trivial as leadership, I disagree. Crises and emergencies are precisely when leadership is needed most—indeed, throughout the first three months of this crisis, it was colossal failures of political leadership that have made an already bad situation unbelievably worse.
It will take great leadership to help us navigate the rest of our way through this dire threat to public health and safety. That applies as much to law practices, legal businesses and lawyer organizations as it does to our political and medical institutions. People need legal remedies; our society needs rule-of-law reassurance.