09 December 2021, The Tablet

What crisis leadership looks like

What crisis leadership looks like

Francis looks across St Peter’s Square during the Covid lockdown in March last year
Photo: CNS/Vatican Media


Climate change, the refugee crisis and the global pandemic have exposed the weaknesses of many world leaders. They have also shown what good leadership looks like

A crisis is a complex occurrence or situation that can quickly evolve into an enormous challenge, generate a complex set of problems and exacerbate existing precarious societal conditions. This understanding of crisis aptly defines the coronavirus pandemic. It has so far killed more than 5 million people and, with the Omicron variant now detected in more than 30 countries, is still rattling the entire global population. Dame Sarah Gilbert, creator of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, said in the Richard Dimbleby lecture this week that while it is increasingly obvious that “this pandemic is not done with us”, the next one could be worse.

Leadership is critical in times of crisis, and the coronavirus has exposed a catastrophic failure among those at the top of businesses, institutions and nations. The pandemic has subjected the idea and practice of leadership to a stress test, and, judging by the performance of world leaders, the report card contains significant gaps, mistakes and failures. Some individual names inevitably come to mind, but I will abstain from listing them.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login