As Executives, we find ourselves in interesting times. Frankly, it’s a put up or shut up time. A time when our job of making sure our company, our community and our global economy doesn’t become a casualty of COVID-19. Making sure our employees are safe and practicing CDC recommendations. Making sure our customers are safe and have the ability to survive a downturn economy. Our species has been activated into survival mode as COVID-19 spreads and we choose how we respond. The world needs executives to take on a new role. A role they’ve never held before, but one they are designed for; the servant leader.
Wikipedia tells us, “servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations.” We can no longer have tunnel vision towards profits as for many of us we are looking at how we simply survive. We can no longer only protect one segment of employees as we depend on all of them. We can no longer have tunnel vision towards our own company’s survival as our customers must survive. We can no longer have tunnel vision towards our nation’s economy as we need our global economy to survive. Everything is interconnected and important in the grand equation right now.
As leaders, we are fully experiencing the impact of our global economy. We are ALL in this together and our best strategy for survival is to understand that whatever was (May 23, 2020)…is not today. Our best shot of survival is to answer our call into service. We will need to be agile in our decision making looking ahead to this week, next week as the future is simply too unpredictable. We certainly didn’t think we’d be sitting here making these decisions last week. We will need to be compassionate in our decision making as our species has been thrust into their survival emotions and we are witnessing fear, panic and ignorance spread faster than the virus. We will need to be able to listen with our whole heart to everyone who needs our ear. We will need to be creative in our solutions and swift in our execution.
To sum it up, we need to put on our superhero panties and start asking, “how can we serve?” I implore all executives to take a deep breath and to take stock. Look at what is really happening and understand that your business must be activated into “service” over profit with one condition of satisfaction, we’ll need to make sure we break even plus a few points to survive. We can’t be in service if we don’t put our company’s oxygen mask on first. Here is a self-reflection exercise that can help you uncover your blind spots and find your vulnerabilities.
Every executive needs to be asking themselves, these very important questions:
For your employees
- How are my employees being affected right now? Does anyone have comorbidity factors? Do we have any caretakers for the vulnerable? How can I help them?
- Do we have anyone at risk for depression or PTSD episodes due to social isolation? What mental health benefits do we have? How can I help them?
- Do we have anyone at risk of financial strain and/or inability to provide basic needs for themselves and their family? How can we support them? How can I help them?
- What support can we offer for our staff to understand any implications on their 401K’s? Can we bring in a financial planner to answer their questions? How can I help them?
For your customers
- How are our customers being impacted? Where are their vulnerabilities? How can I help them?
- Are there any parts of the supply chain they need that aren’t available right now? How can I help them?
- What services, skills, experience and talents can we offer them to help them through this? How can I help them?
- How can we band together to ensure we all have the greatest chance at survival? How can I help us?
For your communities
- Who are our vulnerable populations? Who is most at risk for an inability to provide basic needs? Where can I find the hourly, contract employees? Who is in retail? Entertainment? Where are the elderly? Where are those with suppressed immune systems? How can I help them?
- Where is our economy most likely to be hit? Is there anything we can do to help these sectors? Where can our talents, experience, skills be used to bolster these groups? How can I help them?
This is a time like we’ve never experienced before. Unique circumstances require unique solutions. I said it’s time to put on our superhero panties intentionally. There’s a time for a cape. Capes are for times you need to fly. Panties are for times you need to channel your inner nurturer and look at how you can serve the greater good. Together we can help flatten the curve. And together we can emerge a stronger, more resilient, more effective and a more servant business community. #wegotthis