I had finished work on that Friday evening and was in the garden firing up the BBQ ready for some good food (if a little charred) and some relaxation outside at the end of a hard-working week. Suddenly from inside the house came a shout, or more of a scream really, and I ran inside immediately, thinking probably that one of the children had hurt themselves. The scene that greeted me was quite unbelievable – I’m sure you saw it just as I did, and can recall immediately the graphic images – the TV had just been turned on and there was the bomb scene in a city somewhere, with my wife and all three of the children looking on in disbelief. This was not Beirut, or Gaza, or even London – this was Oslo, where the government buildings are.
My wife is Norwegian, and my sister-in-law works in one of those buildings. We know that place – and it’s the last place in the world you’d ever expect such scenes to be coming from. Lots can be said, and has been, about those terrible events than unfolded in Norway on Friday 22nd July. One thing that we couldn’t help but be moved, and impressed by, was the conduct of the leaders of the country, who were fantastic and conveyed the grief and pride of the nation. And right in the middle of it all, amidst the masses of gathered people, the King and Queen of Norway were seen milling around, talking with people, and openly weeping with them. That’s great leadership, I thought; connected leadership. They are deeply loved and respected by their people, and it’s easy to see why.
People respond much better when their leaders are engaged with them. It’s an ‘us’ not a ‘them and us’ situation, when it genuinely feels like everyone’s pulling together in the same direction, and that each person, from the most senior to the most junior, is valued for who they are and for the role they play in helping the organisation (or company, or group or nation) succeed. This can take a bit longer perhaps, be a little inconvenient, and occasionally even slightly unsafe, but it’s absolutely worth it for the reward it brings.