Lead with your values in difficult times

March, 19 2020


Whats Next notepaper on the wood background


This isn’t intended to be another one of those “difficult times ahead” pieces, when I started writing this it was supposed to be an affirmation, let’s see where it goes.

There is no doubt that in the coming weeks and months each of us as business owners, employees, family members and human beings will all face some tough choices. We can already see the fragile supply chains breaking down and the delicate balance that we maintain beginning to wobble and yet there is still plenty of positive if you know where to look.

It would be easy at this point to simply pull back and look after ourselves, to think short term and make cuts, to circle the wagons as it were. While this is a completely natural self-preservation instinct it also serves little to no long-term benefit.

If we are going to rise to this challenge, we need to think beyond the next few months, we need to think beyond ourselves and begin to live our personal and brand values. It is these values and our ability to remain agile and adaptive that will define our future.

In every crisis there is an opportunity, some among us I am ashamed to say see this as a chance to take advantage but we’re better than that. I am instead talking about the opportunity to care, to show leadership, to provide real value and to show our customers, clients, partners, and communities empathy and that we recognise and are adapting to these challenges.

It should be obvious by now that simply continuing “business as usual” is not a valid strategy. How we plan and communicate over the next few months will make all the difference. In order to get this right, I strongly recommend fighting your instincts to cut back on things like marketing. The benefit of realigning your marketing to focus on longer term activities such as brand and values alongside your continued communication with your community of clients and customers will mean that rather than just surviving, you and your business emerge in a stronger position than those who looked inward. I personally saw this in real time during the 2008 recession and I have no doubt that this will follow a similar pattern.

We are already seeing some great initiatives within the hospitality industry shifting focus to vouchers and gift cards, meal deliveries and online events. With a little effort and a clear marketing and communications strategy led by your values, more opportunities will present themselves and new leaders will emerge. The question is, will one of them, be you?

There is also positive news regarding the global efforts to deal with the current crisis and while the political machinery in each country moves at a different pace, they are all beginning to address the longer term social and economic impact of these events. Treatments and vaccines are being tested, and on the whole frontline services such as heath professionals, teachers and transport and logistics have yet again stepped up to show us all what the best of us can achieve if we work together.

The world will continue to turn and Winter will inevitably become Spring, we will all emerge from this changed slightly for better or worse but the opportunity to define how we move forward as businesses, people, citizens and communities is in our hands. Will you choose to lead or will you let fear drive your choices?

What happens next is up to all of us.



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