Werth Knowing

The Courage to Lead: Our Moment is Now

While our country has faced tough times before, we have never been confronted with a health crisis that all at once put us in fear for our families, crippled our economy and forced us to live in a whole new way.

At such a time, we look for leadership and for those with the courage to lead – from our federal, state and local governments; from our health professionals; from our business community; and from our nation’s economic experts and our trusted advisers.

In our present crisis, courage means making difficult decisions to protect overall population health. Courage means acknowledging that some decisions must be made without knowing all the facts or outcomes of our actions. Courage means standing up to stiff resistance to do the things that protect the greater good.

But leadership is not just about courage. It’s also about finding creative ways to mitigate the negative effects that often result from hard choices.

Landlords are working with their banks for the funds needed to extend rent deadlines to those who can’t pay.

Rather than laying people off, many businesses are reducing hours. 

Salons, veterinarians, dentist offices and others are donating masks and other needed equipment to local healthcare organizations as shortages loom. 

Ordinary citizens are also stepping in to offset the negative effects of social distancing. As restaurant dining rooms close, people are buying carryout or using the drive-thru. As barbershops close, they are buying gift certificates for future haircuts. 

A Cincinnati family paid for 26 vacant rooms for two nights at a local Holiday Inn Express and Suites to help make sure the vacant hotel had enough money for employees’ next paycheck.  

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Health Director Amy Acton, praised nationwide for their courage and clarity during this crisis, have appealed to the federal government for waivers that would allow Medicaid recipients to be served through telemedicine. They have applied for the ability to seek federal disaster loan assistance for small businesses and nonprofits. And they have mobilized the Ohio National Guard to make sure enough volunteers remain to serve food banks after at-risk volunteers are sent home to shelter themselves. 

As business leaders, we are all called to courage and compassion at this time. Our employees, business partners and organizations are counting on it. We won’t always know all the answers before making decisions. But we have good examples to which we can aspire when our moment comes. 

As we struggle to persevere in this suddenly upside-down world, our moment is now.