Courageous Leadership in a Time of Turbulence

3 min. read

I don’t recall a run on toilet paper, although there could have been because people were scared *&#@!!

less (you can add your own word here).   

The economy was grinding to a halt.

 Projects were put on hold.

Retirement accounts were – you guessed it – in the toilet. It was a dark and stormy time.

It was 2008.

I was sitting in my client’s office – let’s call him Sol.

I asked him what he planned to do. (Mind you most businesses of every size were talking about massive layoffs.)

Sol talked about how much work they had to do but hadn’t dug into when business was good – things like improving processesbuilding stronger customer relationshipsimproving leadership capability.

He knew he would most likely lose money during this time, but nonetheless marched forward.

His response-

No Layoffs. We’ve got work to do.

This was not a time to grow revenue, but it was a time to improve operational costs and build stronger relationships among all employees and customers.

 What Sol did was brilliant. He focused on three essential areas:

  1. His staff – making an investment in their personal and professional development
  2. Customers– going beyond the project completion feedback and periodic surveys to face to face meetings to discuss the challenges customers had for themselves and their customers
  3. Processes– a more in-depth examination of core business processes that required better documentation, and more consistent and less bureaucratic methods for improving efficiency and effectiveness. Metrics-based? You bet.

When the recession lifted, Sol had a stronger organization.  
He took a big risk with a bigger reward. By bringing the entire team closer to the business and their customers, Sol stage the business for greater capacity with higher profitability.

From the lessons of Solomon and a few other tidbits, here’s what you can do today.

  1. Don’t panic. Don’t hoard. Don’t hold your breath. Don’t hurt yourself.
  1. Close your eyes and think about what you have control over. Now open your eyes and write down your thoughts. Do this every day. Stop worrying about everything else. You’ll kill yourself.

    Smack yourself when you get into a “what if” mood.

  1. Do one thing to take care of yourself. I highly recommend meditation (not medication). Add one thing a week.
  1. If you have to watch cable news, turn down the sound and make up what you think people are saying. Include your kids. It could be a lot of fun.
  1. What one thing can you do to help others? Reach out – maintain proper distance – but stay in touch. Nothing says “I care” like a good old-fashioned telephone call.
  1. Look at your pre-covid19 “to do” list and sort it to 2 columns – Stuff (like tasks) and Strategic (as in really important but I don’t have time to think or plan). Find one strategic item to dig into.

My unsolicited personal and professional counsel:

Go through denial. Get angry.


Feel depressed.

Accept what’s going.

Then go like hell.

Somewhere in all this #$*#* is a pony. You just have to find it.