What a difference a few weeks makes. The last time we shared a wePRAY, the country was carrying on as usual. Hoarding toilet paper wasn’t a thing and a national crisis of this magnitude hadn’t been seen since WW2. At the time of writing I’m less than 12 hours into the Governments lockdown and trying to explain to a 9 and 6-year-old what is happening and why we must stay indoors. My wife is doing an admirable job in trying to home school them, and our growing respect for those within the education profession is ballooning. We are muddling through as best we can in difficult circumstances, as I’m sure everyone else is.
Can I continue to encourage you to pray for our nation at this particular time, but as you do, please pray a special prayer of thanks for our teachers who do an amazing job, and in the case of our experience over the past week or so, do nothing short of miracles!
If you’ve missed any of the previous wePRAY’s you can also see these online at www.easttowest.org.uk/blog
7 Universal Competencies for Success: 7 – Create Accountability:
So this is it… the end of a journey we collectively began in September. Over the past 7 months we’ve explored 6 of 7 Universal Competencies for Success:
1) Build Relationships
2) Develop People
3) Lead Change
4) Inspire Others
5) Think Critically
6) Communicate Clearly
This month we’re thinking about the need to ‘Create Accountability’. We live in a time in our history where, arguably, accountability has never been higher. The global Coronavirus Pandemic has locked down over ¼ of the world’s population. Within the UK, our Government is dictating the need to stay indoors, (with limited exceptions) and has taken the decision to close shops and facilities to both halt the spread of this virus, and to buy the NHS time to support and care for those who are chronically ill, hopefully avoiding the terrible scenes in Italy, where medical professionals were being left to choose who could receive lifesaving treatment and who wouldn’t. As individuals we’ve become accountable to our families, our friends, our neighbours and the strangers in the street, though to be honest, they shouldn’t really be there unless they are infrequently shopping, getting a single dose of daily exercise or travelling to or from work! All attempts to one side, that last comment may have prompted one of two reactions within you. Firstly, you may have felt a sense of ‘this is no joking matter and you should be taking it more seriously’ or ‘who are you to make judgements about whether I leave my house or not?’
Both responses are about accountability. One speaks of obeying a collective accountability… ‘we’re all in this together and together we’ll overcome’. The other indicates a rejection of accountability – ‘who are you to say what I can or can’t do… I’m not going to be judged by you’.
Interestingly, these responses are not dissimilar to those made by the young people we work with. For many, the idea of having someone in authority over them is too much to bear. They challenge it, push against it or are flagrant in their rejection of it. The thing they don’t understand is that regardless of whether they agree with the rules that are in place within the school setting, they are governed and held accountable by them… just as everyone is. And the same is true of organisations.
Jim Collins, former Stanford Business School (USA) professor and business guru, in his book ‘Good to Great’ uses a metaphor about buses to illustrate a point about how to move a company from good to great. His first statement is to ‘get the right people on the bus’… who is it that you want working in your organisation. Secondly, he states that you need to ‘get the right people in the right seats’. In essence, who is best suited where… then get them there! Thirdly he encourages you to ‘get the wrong people off the bus’. This isn’t about skill sets, personalities or whether they are a cat/dog person… the bus metaphor is being used, because it invokes a sense of travelling to a destination. Those people who aren’t willing or able to come with you to that destination need to get off, because at some point they’re going to become upset, because you’re going nowhere near where they need/want to be. Collins fourth point is ‘who before what’. ‘Who before what’ is about putting the right person in a position where they can take responsibility for something that needs to happen, rather than determining what needs to happen and asking someone to do it. It’s a 180-degree change and is at it’s core about ownership and accountability.
The thing about accountability is that it needs to be to someone… so who are we accountable to? This varies, because the reality is that we’re accountable across a wide range of areas of our lives. Whether it be to spouses/partners, children, employers, churches or friends etc… and the level of accountability will vary too.
The thing is that accountability isn’t a bad thing. In the school situations highlighted earlier, accountability is challenged, pushed against or rejected because there is little or no ownership of anyone’s behaviours or choices. They see accountability as top-down and collective, not from themselves. In Jim Collins approach, the idea of accountability is to say to a person, this is your project, your responsibility and your accountability. Accountability comes with ownership.
Maybe as the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to challenge us globally, we need to think about our own levels of accountability first and foremost. Are we doing the right things… not just for us, but for others as well? From there, maybe we might find the coming days, weeks and possibly months both more bearable. We may also find value in what we’re able to do for others to.
This month we’re praying for Ant, east to west’s CEO. It seems hard to believe, but Ant has been with east to west for over 5 years now… seems the old adage of time flying when you’re having fun is true… though he is yet to confirm this!
Please pray for him this month:
Please pray for my family as Oli (my oldest) should have been taking his A-levels exams in a few weeks’ time, but is now not. This is not only frustrating for him but there is a lot of uncertainty around how grades will be awarded and how Universities will accept students on to their courses.
For Rachel my wife as a schoolteacher and the work she is doing going into school looking after students who are vulnerable.
For my parents who are in Spain that are in lock down for the next 3 months.
For Harry and Zach my younger sons who I am now home-schooling (if you can call it that), we will be learning together and we need help in that process.
east to west:
That our wonderful team and their families are able to stay healthy and well.
Where they are in school or supporting students virtually that they would continue to be able to offer space for those students that need support and bring hope.
Where they find themselves working from home that they would be able to reflect, learn and plan.
That through these unpresented times I would be able to put my trust in Father God and live in faith not fear.