Commentary

Leadership in a Moment of Change

There’s an old saying that a crisis does not build character, instead, it reveals it.

There’s no “playbook” for leadership when the stakes are high and the issues are real. Faced with a 21st century pandemic and a political climate the likes of which this generation has never seen, businesses are being forced to look inward and re-examine their reasons for being, how they operate and reflecting on the path forward.

Where do we go from here?

Growing up in the Midwest--Minnesota, to be exact, which has been at the center of our nation’s heart ache--I learned early on the value and importance of being industrious and to work hard towards your goals and to advocate for what you believed in.

Today’s realities are radically different than they were back in January. The pressures we’re all feeling in our day-to-day roles trickle down throughout our organizations and can have an effect on all of our teams. We need to take care of each other, ensure the well-being and mental health of our employees, especially our Black employees feeling the pain of race relations in our country. We need to recognize and acknowledge the realities of what they’re going through.   

We need to ensure our organizations are ready for a better world and that we’re moving our organizations forward through this massive period of change to the light that we will see at the other end. So, while Minnesota may seem very far away for most us, I carry many of the values that have been ingrained in me throughout my childhood and bring those to the boardroom. These are lessons and experiences that will help us all navigate the days and months ahead.

Solve Problems The World Throws at Us

The world is at a crossroads and we need to work together to shape a new path. It’s not enough for us to raise awareness anymore, people are demanding action. We need to help organizations, brands, clients through these problems and write the playbook ourselves. It’s not enough to sit on the sidelines. We shape cultural conversations and we can do better at solving many of the challenges we’re facing.

Be Good

This might seem like a simple idea but we need to keep asking ourselves how are we being good. How can we be good to each other, to our organizations, to our families and more. Make corporate social responsibility a consideration for all of our efforts.  We need each other – how can an initiative, campaign or program help support the greater good. 

Ditch The Desire to Be Liked

These are challenging times that require us to step up and are forcing us to act differently. Encourage your teams to rally around a common purpose and culture. Don’t be afraid to take a stand or action around a cause you truly believe in and that will help your community. Your guiding principles should be about creating things that people can share and talk about while also, creating marketing that goes beyond just a simple ad. We’re in the business of storytelling and experiences and sometimes we lose sight of that. 

Find Balance in Your Teams 

Don’t lose sight of finding balance in your teams. High-performing, diligent teams include members that balance each other out. Every individual doesn’t have to possess the same skill set, but the team needs a healthy dose of diversity. Diversity in knowledge, views and perspectives, as well as in age, gender, and race can help teams be more creative. 

Being silent and not doing enough are no longer options for our industry. As an industry, we need a long-term commitment and a real plan to face these issues head on for long-term solutions. This moment is our opportunity to take charge and to drive the change we want and that our communities demand.

If I audit the leader I am today, my experiences in Minnesota shaped my perspectives and approach to business. There’s a lot we can learn from looking back at our childhood and the lessons we’ve learned along the way to help steer us through this crisis.

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