Our responsibility as a business leader extends beyond our teams. Since the beginning of time, our military leaders have actually been our societal leaders. With relatively few exceptions, the Senate in Rome for example, it was the warlords who were responsible for leading their societies in times of peace. The reason is simple, leadership is about survival. We chose leaders that we believe maximize our odds of living. For most of history, we have lived in a scarcity economy. This resulted in conflict over resources and our warlords were the ones that gave us the best chance to prevail. However, in peace time they were responsible to ensure that we had enough food to make it through the winter or famines. As recently as 1945, when General Douglas MacArthur was appointed as the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers, he became the de facto ruler of Japan.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution envisioned a different system with civilian control. Not the professional politicians we have today, rather citizen politicians, business people who took leave of their vocations to run the government for a short time. In other words, part of the vision the Framers had for this country is that YOU, as a business leader, would also be a community leader.
Business Leaders Step-up!
When I view the Covid-19 crisis through that lens I couldn’t be more hopeful. Across the country, businesses are stepping up and leading. From companies large and small, business leaders are doing their part. I spoke to a group of concrete contractors; several had purchased large quantities of n95 masks and donated them to local hospitals. My Pillow (https://www.mypillow.com/), a manufacturer of…pillows, has converted some its manufacturing to making masks. Then there is Ford and other automobile companies that have shifted to making face shields for medical personnel.
Beating the pandemic is only half the battle. The longer this goes on, the more damage is being done to our economy and according to a recent study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Imperial College London, and Oxford University this could lead to even more deaths from a recession. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, as business leaders, to minimize the economic downturn by ensuring as many different businesses survive the crisis as possible.
What Can You Do?
How are you leading in your community? What can you do to help keep our economic engine turning while simultaneously keeping our community safe? I challenge you to get with your team, your colleagues, your vendors and your customers. Look for ways you can repurpose your excess capacity that will allow you to keep your doors open and provide a service that is needed today, even temporarily.
Here’s one idea. Have extra fleet capacity? Why don’t you start a low-cost food delivery service? Help local restaurants that may not be able to deliver. There’s probably more demand than the existing services can handle and with people out of work, the high delivery charges are a deterrent. Remember, only need to break even on this, not make money.
What’s your idea? Post them below and let’s help each other.