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This is an excerpt from a guest column by Helio Fred Garcia, originally published on Commpro.biz on January 4, 2021.

The first American case of COVID-19 was diagnosed on January 20, 2020.

Exactly one year later Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

What happened in the United States in between is different from what happened in other developed countries.

Twenty million Americans contracted COVID-19 between the first case and the end of the year.

2020 was the single deadliest year in American history. The first U.S. COVID-19 fatality was on February 6. By year end another 351 thousand Americans had died from the virus. For context, that is more than all the U.S. combat fatalities in World War II and Vietnam combined, but in a single eleven-month period rather than in the 24 years of those wars. For several weeks in December we were seeing the equivalent of a 9/11 casualty rate every day, with total 2020 COVID-19 fatalities equal to 118 separate 9/11 attacks.

Much of this was avoidable. And yet, here we are. So the question is – why did this happen?

Everything Changed

It was a year that changed everything: what it means to be “at work” or “at school”; how we visit the doctor; how we greet each other; how we shop for groceries and other goods; how we say goodbye to loved ones as they take their final breath.

It was a year of great trauma: medical, emotional, spiritual, economic, social.

And it was a year that saw great sacrifice and some of the best of humanity: in the front-line medical workers, in the agility of many companies to re-imagine their business models and their product offerings, in the emergence of a new class of heroes – postal workers, delivery drivers, and grocery clerks, who risked infection to keep us supplied.

And it was a year that intensified much that had already been fraying in the fabric of American civic life: hyper-polarization in politics, mistrust of each other and of civic institutions, and the shattering of social and political norms.

In the time of the pandemic we saw the explicit elevation and endorsement of white supremacist and conspiracist groups, such as the Proud Boys and QAnon. But also the largest civil rights protest in American history, with more than 25 million Americans marching in support of Black Lives Matter – and this in the days and weeks following the first wave of reopening after two months of stay-at-home orders.

After decades of one party discrediting science – from refusing to accept the reality of evolution, to redefining when human life begins, to denying the reality of climate change – we saw millions of Americans deny what scientists, public health experts, and their own doctors told them: that the virus is real, that it is deadly, that you can transmit it even when asymptomatic; and that masking, distancing, and handwashing are keys to prevention. The American population seemed to divide into those who believe what science teaches and those who choose not to. But as a popular T-shirt and internet meme noted, Science Doesn’t Care What You Believe.

The pandemic coincided with one of the most bizarre and contentious presidential election campaigns in American history, in which despite no evidence of fraud the sitting president refused to acknowledge defeat and lost more than 50 lawsuits challenging the results. And who for the eight weeks between the election and the new year seemed to give up on being president. He stayed out of sight and silent on anything having to do with the pandemic, even as fatalities approached the 350 thousand mark and infections soared to 20 million, and as he rage-tweeted about the so-called “massive fraud” that had prevented his re-election.

But the hardships were real and were devastating. In the weeks before and after Christmas, hospitalization rates reached record highs, with whole regions, including southern California, reporting zero intensive care beds available. At least one Los Angeles hospital started treating patients in the gift shop; another in a cafeteria; yet another in its chapel. But the real shortage was of medical personnel to treat the record number of patients. Doctors began talking about the need to choose which patients to treat, and which to leave to die.

The nation saw the infection rate grow by a million cases every few days. And despite pleas from public health officials and hospital front-line workers, Americans continued to travel for the holidays, risking what health workers called a surge on top of a surge. And some governors refused to require citizens to wear masks in public. Florida’s governor even forbade Florida cities and counties from requiring masks and social distancing in their jurisdictions. And the White House, the State Department, and other federal agencies held dozens of holiday parties indoors and without a masking requirement: yet more super-spreader events.

Incompetence

It did not need to be this way.

Much of the suffering, the hardship, the sacrifice could have been avoided. It resulted from a lethal combination of incompetence, dishonesty, and neglect.

The United States, alone in the world, intentionally refused to follow or mandate basic public health steps: a national masking, distancing, testing, and contact tracing policy. There was no whole of government response; at best there were fragments of government responses. And some parts of the government seemed to be at war against other parts. Indeed, some parts of government seemed to be at war against themselves, such as the White House Pandemic Task Force, where in a single press conference the politicians would contradict the public health experts, and vice versa.

The president and other senior government officials modeled the opposite of the public health guidelines, remaining unmasked in public and holding super-spreader events where the crowd was unmasked and packed close together – in violation also of local masking and distancing ordinances.

Continue reading here.

On November 4, the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership Press published the third title in its Best Practices Series, The Power of Genuine Leadership: How Authentic Leaders Earn Trust by Patrick Donahue, PhD. The Power of Genuine Leadership draws upon Donahue’s doctoral research on the relationship between trust and authenticity, as well as his decades of experience working as a senior executive in leadership development at two global corporations.

The Power of Genuine Leadership is an accessible, clear guide on how to effectively – and measurably – build trust and enhance one’s leadership ability. “It can take a lifetime to earn a reputation of being a great leader, which is earned through consistent behavior over time,” says Donahue. “This book makes a complicated concept easier to digest through models, stories, assessments, and applicable tools.”

Donahue’s research reveals the true power of behavioral consistency as an essential yet under-appreciated driver of trust. His Authenticity Trust Model (ATM) helps readers visualize the relationships among the behavioral components that, when applied consistently, create deeper trust: communication, coaching, and respect.

Of the many valuable learnings in Donahue’s book, perhaps his most insightful, is that authenticity without guidelines is irresponsible; that authenticity without empathy is careless; and that humility is much more than a willingness to be vulnerable. Readers can assess their leadership strengths and development areas using the Authenticity Trust Assessment (ATA), which can be taken time and again to track progress and compare results for deeper analysis.

“With so many books, articles and webpages clamoring for our attention, it’s hard to decide what’s ‘worth the time.’ As a leadership professional, I can tell you, this book is a winner,” says Darryl Spivey of the Center of Creative Leadership. “Dr. Donahue captures the stories of leaders and their impact on people. The engaging anecdotes are entertaining and readable, but interwoven with valuable lessons of introspection, laser focus and excellence. It’s a quick, valuable and important book for leaders.”

The Power of Genuine Leadership is the third volume in the Logos Institute Best Practices Series. The Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership stands at the intersection of scholarship and practice, providing rigorous analysis and practical application of key leadership principles. The Logos Institute Best Practices Series showcases conceptual frameworks that help clarify complex issues, combined with insightful case studies, examples, and actionable tools, tips, and techniques that help leaders make smart choices and build competitive advantage.

“In each of the companies where I have had the privilege to have Patrick as a client, I have watched Patrick as he created leadership learning opportunities for high-potential future leaders from around the world,” says Publisher Helio Fred Garcia. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share Patrick’s insights into the relationship between authenticity and trust with the broader world.”

The Power of Genuine Leadership is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.com. Logos Institute Press is hosting a virtual book launch event on Thursday, December 10 at 5:00 pm EST, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the publisher, the author, and endorsers of the book. If you have not received an invitation or would like to request one, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/logos-institute-press-book-launch-for-the-power-of-genuine-leadership-tickets-129244719435?ref=estwhttps://www.eventbrite.com/preview?eid=129244719435

On November 4, the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership Press published the third title in its Best Practices Series, The Power of Genuine Leadership: How Authentic Leaders Earn Trust by Patrick Donahue, PhD. The Power of Genuine Leadership draws upon Donahue’s doctoral research on the relationship between trust and authenticity, as well as his decades of experience working as a senior executive in leadership development at two global corporations.

The Power of Genuine Leadership is an accessible, clear guide on how to effectively – and measurably – build trust and enhance one’s leadership ability. “It can take a lifetime to earn a reputation of being a great leader, which is earned through consistent behavior over time,” says Donahue. “This book makes a complicated concept easier to digest through models, stories, assessments, and applicable tools.”

Donahue’s research reveals the true power of behavioral consistency as an essential yet under-appreciated driver of trust. His Authenticity Trust Model (ATM) helps readers visualize the relationships among the behavioral components that, when applied consistently, create deeper trust: communication, coaching, and respect.

Of the many valuable learnings in Donahue’s book, perhaps his most insightful, is that authenticity without guidelines is irresponsible; that authenticity without empathy is careless; and that humility is much more than a willingness to be vulnerable. Readers can assess their leadership strengths and development areas using the Authenticity Trust Assessment (ATA), which can be taken time and again to track progress and compare results for deeper analysis.

“With so many books, articles and webpages clamoring for our attention, it’s hard to decide what’s ‘worth the time.’ As a leadership professional, I can tell you, this book is a winner,” says Darryl Spivey of the Center of Creative Leadership. “Dr. Donahue captures the stories of leaders and their impact on people. The engaging anecdotes are entertaining and readable, but interwoven with valuable lessons of introspection, laser focus and excellence. It’s a quick, valuable and important book for leaders.”

The Power of Genuine Leadership is the third volume in the Logos Institute Best Practices Series. The Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership stands at the intersection of scholarship and practice, providing rigorous analysis and practical application of key leadership principles. The Logos Institute Best Practices Series showcases conceptual frameworks that help clarify complex issues, combined with insightful case studies, examples, and actionable tools, tips, and techniques that help leaders make smart choices and build competitive advantage.

“In each of the companies where I have had the privilege to have Patrick as a client, I have watched Patrick as he created leadership learning opportunities for high-potential future leaders from around the world,” says Publisher Helio Fred Garcia. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share Patrick’s insights into the relationship between authenticity and trust with the broader world.”

The Power of Genuine Leadership is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.com. Logos Institute Press is hosting a virtual book launch event on Thursday, December 10 at 5:00 pm EST, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the publisher, the author, and endorsers of the book. If you have not received an invitation or would like to request one, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/logos-institute-press-book-launch-for-the-power-of-genuine-leadership-tickets-129244719435?ref=estwhttps://www.eventbrite.com/preview?eid=129244719435

Many crises are not foreseeable, but civil unrest after the election is and leaders and organization should prepare for this.

On Monday, October 19, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia presented a pre-conference briefing on how to foresee the foreseeable and be ready for it when it happens around the US election at the Professional Speechwriters Association’s World Conference.

During this session, Garcia helped attendees understand a mindset to help leaders think through what to do and say ahead of election day, how to organize their thinking (and schedule) for various Election-Day scenarios, and how to prepare for and respond to five possible scenarios for what might happen immediately after the election.

Watch the full webinar here:

On Friday, October 23, 2020, Helio Fred Garcia spoke with Deirdre Breakenridge of Women Worldwide about the power of communication to both ignite and inspire positive change, as well as provoke hurt, harm, and violence.
During their exchange, the pair spoke about Garcia’s journey to the field of communication, how communication can be used to either ignite the better angels in our nature or appeal to the very worst impulses within us, and key lessons from his latest book, Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It. Garcia also spoke about the ways that we have seen the continuation and intensification of the patterns he has outlined in his book in the past several months, including the spread of mis-information, the dehumanization of at risk groups, and more. They also spoke about how engaged citizens, civic leaders, and emerging leaders can hold people accountable who use incendiary language that predictably causes harm.

Garcia’s closing message:  “Words have power.”

Watch the full interview here: