In a memorable moment in television history, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who plays the dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen, told a reporter that one of the greatest moments of her life was when Beyoncé came up to her and complimented her on the important role she plays, especially the way she portrays the character in the show for women, as female leaders still have to fight for recognition in the world. All this happened before the last season aired, when Emilia knew exactly how the good-hearted “breaker of chains” would be transformed into the show’s chief antagonist. But she couldn’t tell anyone this information yet. Smiling to the reporter, she recalled, in addition to the immense honour she felt at the time, that during the conversation, she had only one thought in her head: please don’t hate me after watching the last season. Many call it the most powerful turn from good to evil in the history of filmmaking. You could say that this is just the world of film, but the pandemic has shown exactly that changes of this magnitude and direction can happen to ordinary people and managers. Many people showed the whites of their teeth in 2021, and there could be many surprises in store for 2022!
There is frustration; there is a crisis
Well, now it’s relevant! At least since 2020, everyone has shown the whites of their teeth! And they say that people stick together better in times of trouble. I like these general statements; “people”, as if everyone is the same. But they’re not! No, it’s not true that “people” stick together in times of trouble. But it is true that they show their true selves! Some people like it, and others don’t like it so much. There is nothing wrong with that! Let’s take a look at ourselves when someone surprises us. The pandemic shocked many people when they saw people falling over each other for what they thought was the last food, medicine, toilet paper, whatever. Many are still surprised today at how people’s behaviour has changed, for example, when driving. I myself am sometimes astonished when people honk their horns madly from their cars – even if they are not driving properly on the road – who I would never have imagined in the past would even know where the horn was in their car. Shops and restaurants have also seen a rapid drop in the standard of service. But the official explanation is immediately there: people are frustrated. And that is the most natural thing in the world, it is simply stated, and everyone has to accept the fact. This, of course, reinforces in people’s minds that it’s all right, and they are just following the great rule of the people. But it’s not all right! This is when we should be most supportive. This is when we should increase our patience with our fellow human beings. This is when we should be most charitable. And this is when we, as managers, should be the most kind to our subordinates. But if we were to ask people who are experiencing positive change, the percentage we would get would be very poor. But understandably, there is a crisis.
And, of course, there are the positive surprises. Because we should not now think that “people” are the same. More and more people are discovering that the broad grin and the good word that used to be the norm in the past may not be the reality. Just as it is not true that a grumpy leader cannot be a big-hearted man who fights for the good of his colleagues. Many people have been shocked, negatively or positively, since the onset of the pandemic, and just as many are crying back to the “fake world” when they thought they were surrounded by good people and working in a good company. It was dramatic to see how quickly, without thinking, the owner of a multinational or a local firm made horrendous decisions about the fate of people. How managers would hide away licking their own wounds and not care about their “beloved colleagues”. But I was also surprised at how many people who were otherwise thought to be bad, critical, bullies, quickly stepped forward and created an even more secure background for colleagues who were often “vilified”. We have had some very interesting influences over the last two years, and experts believe that these influences will influence our decisions for the rest of our lives. The markets are beginning to open, and many people expect a sort of rebound, and people, in general, will be well again, as there will no longer be frustration in their lives. Of course, a lot of people think that they no longer believe in people who are only good when all is well in the world, and they make very serious decisions about their own lives. One can see that the leaders who have come to the fore in business in the last two years have fewer smiles, fewer visible “good man gestures”. But you can also see that they are backed by a background, a steadfast human support.
It is a clear order of life that if good people can be evil, then evil people must also be defined by more good people. And we now know that these transformations are not only spectacular on our screens, but are just as visible in everyday life, even if these ordinary people can’t ride a dragon!
Daenerys, good and evil – How the pandemic has changed people (Part 1)