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Friday, June 5, 2020
Home Banking Commentary: Business Leadership During the Coronavirus Era and Beyond

Commentary: Business Leadership During the Coronavirus Era and Beyond

How you respond – the love, the compassion, the generosity and the care you exhibit toward your people and customers – will likely define you for the rest of your business career and frankly, given the unique platform you have, may define your whole life.

I had a good friend and CEO peer ask me for “business management wisdom” to deal with the challenges everyone is facing in these troubling times.

I’m honored my friend used the word wisdom because that implies he thinks I have some. I hope that is true because as I often say as I get along in years about the only thing that I really enjoy is the wisdom that comes with age.

I went through three different challenging times like this in my 40 plus years in business, although nothing quite like what current CEO’s are dealing with. I feel badly for all of my friends and peers who are going through this today and want all of them to know I am praying for better days to come.

My advice below may take a little more of a philosophical tone as opposed to just straight business strategy advice, but I’ve also included a link to a great article titled How to Expand Your Company’s Resilience Zone During Coronavirus Crisis. https://www.inc.com/entrepreneurs-organization/how-to-expand-your-companys-resilience-zone-during-coronavirus-crisis.html.

For any of you who are familiar with the Conscious Capitalism movement, the article will really resonate with you.

For those who are not familiar with Conscious Capitalism, I’d encourage you to go to the website at www.consciouscapitalism.org and, at a minimum, read the Conscious Capitalist Credo. It is an inspiring view on why this movement is so important both now and in the future for business.

The most important advice I can share with any leader is to reflect on these challenges and instead of looking at the negatives of the situation, be grateful for the opportunity that is presented to you as a leader.

That’s right. I said be grateful! Easier said than done but think about it; this is your chance to shine and what you do today and in the next few weeks will set the tone for the rest of your business career.

Sadly, I think business leaders of both small and large organizations have to accept the fact that their company will likely not make money this year and, in fact, they likely might not even be able to pay themselves a salary.

That’s OK for many of you. Anyone with “wisdom” knows money does not buy happiness and hopefully this is a short-term problem.

What will make you happy at the end of this challenge and, frankly, at the end of your journey as a leader is how your team viewed you both now and in the future.

That perception is critically important now more than ever. Don’t underestimate the platform for doing good that you have as a leader!

With the possible exception of teachers and preachers, the platform our business leaders have for being a positive role model and, as one of my mentors used to say, “leaving the world a little better than you found it” has few peers. Take advantage of it!

To that end, taking care of your most vulnerable employees who have taken care of you over the years is paramount.

One suggestion would be creating a disaster relief fund comprised of first and foremost what you pay yourself and any expected profits, if any, you anticipate.

Prepare a personal budget and look at what you have in liquidity and how long you can survive on your savings without being paid.

Consider deferring your salary or reduce it to what it would take to pay your personal obligations.

After you do that, ask any other senior executives on the team to consider the same. The message this will send to your entire organization cannot be overstated.

If you can, subtly share this with your customers in any pro-active correspondence you send out. Imagine the goodwill that will be created with them. Talk about creating customers for life!

Along those same lines, if your current paid sick leave or what legislation Congress has passed or will pass is not enough to help your people get through these troubling times, review that policy and consider doing more.

This could be costly, but in the long run, the admiration for you and your company will reap huge dividends and position the company for future success.

These are just a couple of simple things leaders can do, but they are arguably the most impactful.

However, the challenges you all face at this time cannot be solved with just these simple concepts. The cited link above has much more detail on good general business strategies that I would implement and to restate those things in this writing would be redundant.

For industry specific advice, reach out to your national or state industry trade association and to peers in your industry to discuss strategies specific to your type of business.

I’m a big believer in assimilating industry “best practices” and implementing those that make sense for your organization. My suggestion is to not “try and reinvent the wheel.” Work with others who have been through a similar crisis, who have been or are currently in your line of work. Industry trade associations have incredibly valuable resources at any time while leading a business and will be especially helpful now.

Let me leave you with this:

My two favorite quotes of all time that I regularly used in my 40 plus year business career are these: “Problems are opportunities in disguise” and “Let’s turn lemons into lemonade.”

It bears repeating, you have an opportunity of epic proportions.

How you respond – the love, the compassion, the generosity and the care you exhibit toward your people and customers – will likely define you for the rest of your business career and frankly, given the unique platform you have, may define your whole life.

So, let this philosophy be your and your team’s mantra: Let’s go out there tomorrow and begin turning those lemons into lemonade.

Don’t ever forget that powerful platform you have as CEO and make your business be a force for good!

Best of luck and Godspeed to you all!

David Minor was the founding director of the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center at TCU and was awarded the title of Founder Emeritus in 2011. He is a speaker and consultant, has owned multiple businesses, and was inducted into the initial class of The Fort Worth Business Press Hall of Fame in 2016

www.linkedin.com/in/davideminor