My wife is a preschool teacher at one preschool and daycare in Bintaro, Tangerang Selatan. Together with her twin, with the support from their parents (my parents-in-law), they founded this preschool and daycare two years ago. It could also be said that aside from being a teacher, my wife also plays the role of a principal, part of the management team, and the owner.
In the past couple of weeks, she has been occupied by the additional work which is related to her preschool. For example, “How should we deliver instructions and teaching-learning activities to students? Should we use Zoom, Google Meet, or record videos uploaded to a YouTube channel?”, “How do we track student progress?”, “So far, we’ve been relying ourselves on the income from the daycare. Now, no daycare at all. What to do?”, “How about the salaries of the teachers and staff?”
We all know that due to the Covid-19 outbreak, companies (business owners), as well as governments around the world, have to force themselves to maneuver to be able to adapt to the situation. Otherwise, we all probably “die” (literally die, or die in the sense of closed business). My issues that my wife is facing are not unique at all. Many companies, if not all, are “forced” to temporarily close themselves and the workers work remotely from home (WFH). Some probably still need to come in turns, but many are at home.
The local governments, such as in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok and Bekasi, have now undergone the Large-Scale of Social Restrictions (or Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar, PSBB). Closures of shopping malls, except for the stores related to medicine and health and daily needs. Last but not least, the restrictions for online transportation (Gojek, Grab and the likes).
We know that these are only a few from many policies to respond to the situation. In this situation, we might wonder, “Will we still be getting our full salaries or my boss will cut my pay?”, “Will I still get the THR (religious holiday allowance) for the Eid al-Fitr?”, “Will I still have my current job after 2-3 months?”, “Will I get laid off?”, “What should I do as a daily worker and freelancer?”
Definitely, these questions that we are wondering do not make our lives easier. We face challenges and obstacles that might be bigger than usual. As I have been facing as well, that due to the WFH, my household expenses seem increasing than the usual. We need to fulfill the daily necessities for now and at the same time prepare ourselves for the next couple of weeks, more than normal. Not to mention, the way I need to do my work that is more challenging now than ever. For example, as a math teacher, it is clearly uneasy to encourage and facilitate discussion during this online learning time. I usually asked my students to present their works, be it personally or in front of the class. Now, it is not easy to ask them to do this. Worse, it is not easy to track their learning progress.
However, let’s stop with the complaints, rants and playing the victim role. We know it. People said it already. I mentioned this already in my old posts. Adversities have the propensity for opportunities. Now, what opportunity? Leadership. Yes, leadership.
Difficult times serve as platforms for people to show who they are, show who our leaders are, show our leadership, as well as our followership. This time helps us to realize how the roles and responsibilities of leaders become more apparent than before. This time gives us the luxury of separating the people, leaders, who really strive to serve others from those who are so selfishly thinking of themselves only. We got the chance to identify which companies or businesses which take care of their employees. Which government officers who actively and tirelessly work to ensure the wellbeing of the citizens, and which officers who just want to show off and work with their tongues, in pride and selfishness.
What is in it for ourselves? I know for sure that we have been in such difficult situations, though probably not as difficult as now. Failed thesis, rejected from work, got fired, ignored by colleagues and friends, got no income, cheated by friends or partners, failure in business, and so on and so forth. However, be happy also because these adversities serve to help us reveal who we are and what we can do, and if we are wise enough, we would grow through them. We could hone our leadership skills through them.
May we always remember that leadership is not about rank or position. Work as the CEO does not guarantee that you are a leader. Owning a business does not guarantee this as well. In contrast, we could be a leader while we are working as a security officer. We might be a leader when we work “only” as a staff or even an intern. Every single one of us has the capacity to lead, to be a good leader. The question is, “To what extent do we want to lead and serve others?”
Once again, in this tough time, the quality of leadership and characters of a leader is revealed more clearly than ever. If we focus to work for the sake of our own interest, and we want to save ourselves first, that is so clear that we are not the leaders that the world need. Not now, not even when everything is fine. If we focus to work for the interest of others, those who we lead, for example by ensuring that their mental health is okay, congratulations! We have learned to be the leaders we wish we had. The leaders needed by this world, be it now or when everything is “normal”.
Hang on there, though difficult. Keep fighting, though we don’t want to. All the selfishness, the feeling to seek our own security and comfort, and all other similar feelings, are so normal to appear in our hearts. We are human beings. But, what separates the leaders and the followers is this: those who want to lead are willing and take courage to overcome that feeling and they choose to be the leaders they wish they had, the leader we all wish we had.
May we all keep learning to be the true leaders who are willing to humbly serve others to advance the world for the better.