What's your take on Vaccine Mandates ?
One of my college professors was given to say, “Anyone can decide between right and wrong, the really hard decisions are between good and better and better and best.”
Those words have come back to me many times over the last year and a half.
The personal and professional decisions we as nonprofit leaders have made in response to the pandemic have been complex and their impact multi-dimensional.
I don’t believe there has been a single right or wrong decision in response to the pandemic. They have all been about what risks we are willing to absorb and what people can accept. The decisions have been about what is possible, or what can be done.
Now the national debate calls us into another of those decisions.
Decisions about mandates of masks and/or vaccinations are where we find ourselves as leaders.
- Is physical safety the best option, or emotional health a bit more valuable?
- Are people's need for socialization as important as the general health of a community?
- Do we accept decreased educational outcomes for a time?
- What about mission fulfillment being slowed down?
- Which fears do we believe are greatest, those who fear vaccines or those who fear COVID spreading from the unvaccinated?
The context of our decision-making is a deeply divided culture, in which even health and wellbeing issues have been politicized.
In such an environment, it can be hard to know what sources to trust, especially when what is recommended changes.
Plus, we seem unable to get a consensus of opinion on anything these days. If we mandate, a significant number of the people will believe we have abandoned them somehow, and, if we do not mandate, a similar number of the people will believe we have abandoned them. Then, there are those who will vociferously disagree with whatever decisions we make.
The truth is science is always evolving. It is no different with this pandemic. When scientists learn something new, they change and adjust. And so must we.
There are ways we can lead and processes we should employ in decision-making in the current environment. I’ve incorporated the following five principles into my leadership efforts. Perhaps they will be of help to you.
- Listen well and often - Gather input from people who are affected by the decisions being made. Listen to science. Hear differing perspectives and do so without judgment and with a good sprinkling of grace. Listening should continue after any decisions are made, especially listening to those who disagree with you. Establish decision-making processes that convey that you are a listening organization.
- Make decisions rooted in faith - Believe in your mission, your colleagues, your board, your volunteers and your donors. Believe that people and organizations can overcome barriers, obstacles and even significant disagreements
- Make decisions considering impact on mission and strategic plan fulfillment - Anticipate ways in which your decisions will impact staff and volunteers’ ability to do the work, as well as donor engagement.
- Remain humble - Recognize that the decisions we make may need to be adjusted as new evidence comes forward and that no decision is perfect, nor will you make everyone happy.
- Communicate often and communicate the why - Let people know why decisions were made and how you believe each decision will lead your organization forward. Don’t leave people guessing. Communicate regularly with all stakeholders.
As I write this, we as a nation are recognizing the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack. That event changed us forever and we proved again that we are resilient, resourceful and can find a path forward through tough times.
We will find a way through this pandemic. We will learn and we will grow from it. I believe that and I hope you do too.