Leadership Insights


One Man’s Limited Perspective on our Lives During the Covid-19 Pandemic
by Harold Knutson, SIM MN President

“With time, comes perspective.”  It sounds a lot better than “When you’re as old as I am, you view these things with a broad lens.”

Yes, I’ve been around a while longer than many of my IT industry colleagues and, I must admit, I have never seen anything exactly like our current pandemic.  Having said that, I have actually seen a lot of things that, at their points in history, had never happened before; Viet Nam, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, Financial Black Monday, 9/11, the Housing Crisis, Zika Virus, Global Warming, etc…..

One thing that has always stood out for me is that in virtually ALL of these ‘unprecedented’ events in our history, there is usually a person or two whom, with great intestinal fortitude, stood up and called out what was actually happening and what needed to be done about it even though there were very powerful and influential people who had a stake in maintaining the status quo.  Perhaps not a complete case of Speaking Truth to Power but often, these truth-tellers did so at great risk to their personal well-being if not their actual lives.  It was often these voices that were the catalyst to the people of this great nation rallying behind solving these crises and advancing our well being.

I should point out that this diatribe is NOT a commentary on current political figures (although it may be difficult to resist that).  It is about absolute admiration for those who’s professional training and experience coupled with incredible personal commitment to their profession and their constituents compels them to speak up when the easiest thing to do would be to tow the party line. Go along to get along, as they say.

In this current environment, I am so incredibly thankful for the courageous leadership exhibited by Dr’s. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.  Thankful that they had the dedication, knowledge, and the interpersonal skills (EQ?) to navigate the politically hyper-charged environment in Washington to get the message out that we were in trouble and it was going to quickly get worse if we didn’t take action across the entire nation.  I marvel at their adept performance during press conferences where they carefully direct kudos to stroke the ego of the man in the most powerful position in the free world while still clarifying the facts and factually communicating the reality of the situation to keep us from becoming complacent.

Thinking back on my career, there were times where I wish I had demonstrated even 1/2 the professionalism and intestinal fortitude of these two doctors.  That is because I have a strong belief, perhaps from living through some of the unprecedented events above that, if we understand the facts and the reality of the situation - supported by data, we can deal with anything.  Where we get into trouble is when we say what people want us to say and hear what we want to hear rather than what is actually going on.

I encourage each and every one of us in leadership positions to ensure you are providing your organizations with the unadulterated facts and truth about all situations - even if that’s an unpopular position to take.  With that, your people will surprise you with how well they can constructively address the situation.

For Covid-19, I’m hoping we’re now on the right track.