Believe – 2024: Drawing Inspiration from “Yes, Virginia” for Business and Change Leadership in the New Year.
Each Christmas season, Macy's iconic store in New York City adorns its façade with a single, powerful word: "Believe."
This tradition is inspired by the timeless message of the New York Sun’s 1897 editorial "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." A young girl named Virginia had written a letter to the newspaper wondering whether Santa Claus existed. She asked for confirmation from a credible source while her friends mocked her for what she believed to be true. The response she received from Francis Pharcellus Church became one of the most famous editorials in newspaper history. Its message is a timeless and heartwarming affirmation of the existence of Santa Claus, not as a person but as coming to life through our positive actions and embodiment of values such as hope and goodwill. The now-famous editorial symbolizes the powerful spirit of childhood wonder, hope, and joy. Transcending its original context, it is a rallying cry urging us to translate our beliefs and hopes into positive action.
As we enter 2024, this century-old message of belief and hope offers profound wisdom for business leaders and organizations worldwide. Especially, during volatile times, it is easy to lose hope and to give in to our fears or take half-hearted action. Several sectors seem to understand that. For example, in the summer of 2023, we attended a Columbia University Panel Discussion on “Bridging the Divide: Making Action on the Energy Transition a Reality.” The event was kicked off by Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy with the unforgettable thought that if we wanted to make energy transition a reality and believed that it could happen, we would be taking very different actions.
Hope that Change Can Occur as a Strategic North Star
Taking this thought as a guiding star, the question is what will nurture our change leadership in the New Year. In the face of unprecedented challenges, it is the unwavering belief in our ability to make a difference that drives innovation and transformation. Just as Virginia's letter reminds us of the intangible yet powerful essence of hope, belief, and positive actions, organizations in 2024 have yet another 365 opportunities to anchor their actions in the belief that they can and must be instruments of positive change.
Leadership: Leadership in 2024 demands more than just managerial skills; it requires the ability to instill hope and vision. More importantly, it requires the ability to follow through with sound action that leads to positive results. Leaders can inspire their teams by embodying the values of integrity, generosity, and a firm belief in collective aspirations and solutions – while clearing the way to actually achieve groundbreaking results.
Putting Values into Action: This concept encapsulates the idea of transforming beliefs and values into tangible actions that yield real-world results. By not only talking about them but acting on their values, beliefs, and hopes, businesses can bring about significant changes in society. How will you and your business ensure that your beliefs are not just ideals but that they are actively shaping your operations and resulting in a noticeable impact in 2024?
Designing Supportive and Transformational Organizations: An organization's design is its blueprint for realizing its dreams and aspirations. Just as Virginia's belief in Santa Claus was a beacon of hope, an organization's structure should be a foundation for its practiced values and visions. Innovative organizations are designed to support sustainable practices, encourage creative problem-solving, and foster a culture of inclusivity and collaboration. They will emphasize the importance of being agile, empathetic, and aligned with the broader goals of societal and environmental well-being.
As we embrace the challenges and opportunities of 2024, let us channel the spirit of "Believe" and “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” in our business and societal endeavors. By believing in the power of impactful, positive actions and the values we champion, we can indeed turn our hopes and aspirations into reality. We wish everyone the courage and inspiration to make 2024 a Happy New Year.