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Former America250 CEO Joe Daniels on the New Pressures of Leading in a Post-Pandemic World

It’s a brave new world out there when it comes to organizational leadership. Gone are the days of the screaming boss with the rolled-up sleeves and the take-no-prisoners attitude. People don’t want to work like that anymore — and they don’t. The pandemic, the great accelerator of existing change, created a whole new set of rules for leaders that were ushered in quickly and could have profound effects on how businesses and other entities exist both in the economy and in society writ large.


Joe Daniels, the former CEO of America250 who previously held the same position at The National September 11 Memorial & Museum as well as The National Medal of Honor Museum, has lived and worked through the changes of the last two decades, some of which have been welcome, others that have created challenges.


Culture


Joseph Daniels, former CEO of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, who led the project, said that one of the most demanding changes for his particular leadership style was maintaining a degree of connectivity and culture during a period when many people were distancing from each other.


“The biggest problem that I had with my leadership style, which really emphasizes a lot of individual and group interaction at the memorial, was not being together,” Joe Daniels says of the changes in working conditions during the initial pandemic period. “I had a lot of formal meetings with different levels of the organization, but a lot of it was walking the halls. And because we had built up both professional and social bonds, me dropping by was not an uncommon experience. The amount that I would learn in these casual but professional contexts was incredibly valuable. I mean, meeting with people who are on the construction team or in finance, me dropping in and spending 20 minutes listening to what they’re working on, I leave there learning a ton more. They leave there feeling extremely respected because I’m listening [to them] a lot.”


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