Adelphean Compass: Leadership Concepts in a Pandemic Reality Part 1

June 11th, 2020
Filed Under: Adelphean Compass

by Tammie Pinkston — Past International President

I don’t know about you, but I have been struggling as of late.  I make a living observing people going through significant change.  Now during our time of pandemic and protest, therein lies my dilemma. With our current state of affairs and varied states of shelter in place, the entire human race is going through perhaps the most significant change of their lives. I feel helpless and unable to do what I do best. So I began to dig deep, reflecting so that I can practice what I preach and I found myself using the teachings of Adelphean Compass to help me process my feelings.  I am documenting my journey here so that it might stimulate discussion and jumpstart others’ reflection. I added a few consideration questions and activities in italics that may help you work through this too.


Part One – Leading with Self

Adelphean Compass (AC) begins with the idea of “Leading with Self”.  On Easter morning, I watched “CBS Sunday Morning” and the lead story was about leadership.  One of the 3 leaders highlighted, Father Joseph McShane, the President of Fordham University, said that leadership begins with self-knowledge.  I couldn’t agree more. 

Self-awareness is critical in so many ways.  It is an understanding of how and why we have arrived where we currently are. What is the combined background, beliefs, experiences that make us the persons we are today? And how does that combination influence how you see the current state of the world?


Our framework of self includes 5 dimensions:


Personal Values – the core beliefs, norms, and code of behavior that you find acceptable.

Although personal values are relatively stable over time, it’s situations like this pandemic that may alter or bring into focus what it very important to each of us.  In AC, we do an exercise where we identify values that are important to us.  We continue to whittle down those truths that are most important and when we get to choose only one, my non-negotiable value is “freedom.”  That goes a long way to explaining why I am struggling. 

Think about your values.  Are they being challenged?  How do we adjust or realign what is most critical in our lives? 

Organizational values also impact our self-identity.  These values represent the core beliefs upon which an organization is built. 

Think about the organizations with which you are affiliated.  Are they responding to this pandemic in a way that you expect?  Are they responding to Black Lives Matter with anti-racist action?


Learning Styles – the way we learn or process information. 

As a result of the pandemic, we have all been forced to learn online.  We may have reduced opportunities to learn through experience, doing (active experimentation) and more reliance on reflecting (reflective observation) and theorizing (abstract conceptualization). And even the latter two may have limits in this social distanced environment. 

For me, I feel like I am getting lectured to on a lot of webinars. And that has never really worked for me in any capacity, let alone when trying to learn independently.  So I try not to get too frustrated but do find myself doodling a lot or multi-tasking.  

Ask yourself, are you getting more information through reading, watching, listening to the news?  Be patient and use this learning environment as a way to challenge your norms.  Stretch yourself.  Stay focused.  (Trust me, I am telling myself these same things.)


Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – combination of self-awareness/management and social awareness/relationship management.

In short, EQ is your ability to read the room and make adjustments so that the most effective interactions can occur.  Well, there is no room and no ability to read it in our current situation, we are at a loss to flex in this area.  If you are using video capabilities and not just voice, you do get a better sense of how you are coming across and how you are being received.  But, the mic picks up whomever is talking so you are going to be limited in who you really get to see. 

Be aware of your tone, interjections and what people say in response to your engagement.  Yes, it is really hard to conduct business with large groups in this way.  Identify roles for others so that you aren’t managing the interaction alone or having to pay attention to the technology.  Ask for others to contribute/chime in so you can ensure that you are being effective.


Orientation to Change (OtC)combination of “Tolerance for Ambiguity” and “Locus of Control”. 

Tolerance for Ambiguity is the degree to which someone feels comfortable dealing with uncertainty or incomplete instructions.  Locus of Control is your perspective regarding the extent to which you are in control of your own destiny.

Without question, OtC is where this pandemic and fight for social justice is hitting the hardest with respect to Leading with Self.  Even individuals who are resilient in ambiguous situations may be having a hard time coping because the end is an unknown. Not only do we not know if we will get sick, or have other physical impacts from this pandemic, but we don’t know when we can get back to a healthy and equitable “normal.” Whatever that looks like. 

When you add on your internal or external locus of control predisposition, it gets even more complicated for those with low tolerance for ambiguity and an external locos of control. You may feel totally helpless in the current situation. 

Get clear on your own threshold for ambiguity and define the things which you are more certain about.  From a locus of control perspective, focus on the things you can control and try not to worry about those you cannot. 


Core Self Evaluation – the basic subconscious beliefs you hold about yourself and your ability to contribute to society.  Subcomponents include: locus of control, neuroticism, generalized self-efficacy, and self-esteem (Judge, Locke, and Durham (1997)).

I won’t be able to explore this fully here but recognize its importance in contributing to self-awareness.  In general, during the pandemic, I would suggest that we all give ourselves a break by recognizing that no one, not even experts, have all the answers.  Listen to the experts for guidance about safety and anti-racism. But do the best you can do every day and don’t be too hard on yourself.  This is a once in a lifetime experience for most of us. 

In conclusion on “Leading with Self”, we are definitely in challenging times.  Just like our program theme, take the time to reflect and analyze your feelings.  It’s about awareness and coming to terms with your feelings; it is not an evaluation of those feelings.

Always recognize that each individual has different profiles around these dimensions and they show up, albeit virtually, with varying perspectives, differing degrees of comfort, and ability to handle the situation.  It is important for us to take things one day at a time and find small wins.  We may need to scale back, right size and achieve tangible accomplishments. We will talk about this more in Part Two – Leading with Vision