Facilitating Culture Changes
Sophie Merryweather

Sophie Merryweather

Projects and Digital Marketing Executive

The Schroder Series; Empowering Action

We’ve just passed the one-year milestone since the national lockdown was implemented and so it’s only fitting for the fourth episode in GFB’s Schroder Series we will be taking a look at the competency, ‘Empowers Action’ from the ‘Achieves’ behaviour cluster in relation to how leaders tackled the Covid 19 pandemic. 

A high level of the ‘Empowering Action’ competency is described as someone who “Takes action, removes barriers/bureaucracy so that others can take action – Plans have roles and responsibilities defined, actions are sequenced and barriers are tackled so that activities stay on track.  People confidently go beyond the realms of their formal responsibilities to achieve.”

On the 23rd March 2020 the UK launched a national lockdown to try and control the spread of Covid 19, we moved our desks to the kitchen table and hunted for the then elusive, toilet roll and pasta. As cases started to make their way across the globe, we can see how different leaders reacted and implemented their own measures to control the spread.

In the UK we had our first recorded case on the 31st January 2020, moving into a national lockdown on the 23rd March.

New Zealand on the other hand started introducing restrictions from early February 2020.

New Zealand’s success at dealing with the virus is well reported in the global media. So, with the virus coming into each country at a similar time, why did we end up in such different situations?

New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden had a clear early strategy. New Zealand chose early to take an elimination approach to COVID seeking to reduce the virus to zero within their population. Ms Arden took the unprecedented step of closing borders to all non-citizens or residents before the virus became significantly widespread. A four-stage alert system was put in place and communicated widely to make it clear exactly what the level of risk was at that time and what restrictions were in place, and encouraging everyone to take play their part in reaching the goal of a COVID free NZ.

In the UK things were less clear, with initial talk of ‘herd immunity’ and shaking hands on hospital wards it’s clear that perhaps COVID was not being looked at with the same level of intensity as elsewhere. There seemed a to be a resistance to taking action as it would disrupt the normal way of life (a level 1 negative use of empowering action). The UK locked down relatively late by comparison (New Zealand locked down when it had recorded only 102 cases and no deaths. When the UK locked down, it had more than 6,500 cases and more than 330 deaths.) and with many left confused as to what was allowed and what was not, history shows that perhaps the UK may have done better and taking action earlier and with a clearer direction.

Jacinta Arden displayed a clear use of high level ‘Empowering Action’; redefining the boundaries of day-to-day life and international travel, getting a step ahead of the situation and acting early, and providing clear structure and communication to make people feel personally involved in the process.

According to the Guardian and the data published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum seems to imply that countries with female leaders had significantly better outcomes, and “suggests the difference is real and “may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses” adopted by female leaders.”

Leaders who ‘empower action’ impact the ability to deliver and manage change in a way perceived as adding value. If you want to know more about the Schroder framework, keep an eye out for more from this series or get in touch today and see how it could help your leaders drive success!

If you would like to know more about how we can help and support your organisation, please get in touch:

Email: info@gfbgroup.com              Tel: +44 (0) 333 090 2580

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