Living the Fundamentals in a Time of Crisis

By Al Curnow, Vice President

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to work with such great leaders representing incredibly diverse organizations.  Our clients include those that are for profit while some are not-for-profit.  Some are high-tech while others are “get your hands dirty” low-tech.  They include the world’s largest horseradish manufacturer and firms that provide vital services to some of our country’s most vulnerable populations.  Yet, while the industries we work with vary dramatically, there is a common thread among those that lead these organizations.  These leaders understand just how important their leadership and culture are to the success of their organization—never more so than in times like these.

Fundamentals in action

Over these past few weeks, we’ve heard from many of our clients.  They’ve shared some of their experiences in how they’re dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.    Many have told us how their Fundamentals provided a guiding light for decision-making and strategy.  For example, Renee Barbier of Alliance Safety Council remarked how important it was for them to lean on one of their Fundamentals, Get Clear on Expectations, when they were transitioning to working from home.   Or how Gary Wishnatzkia and his team at Wish Farms delivered two truckloads of strawberries to local food banks in the spirit of their Fundamental, Make a Difference.  In living to their Fundamental, Always Do The Right Thing, Eric Rygg and his team at The Silver Springs Foods company provided 100,000 squeeze bottles for the production of hand sanitizer (see article).

Taking care of their team and those they serve

In an industry where most dealerships are laying off more than half of their staff,  Don Johnson Auto Group took a completely different approach.  Michael Pahl, Chief Operating Officer, explains: 

“Our Fundamentals tell us that we are going to #1 DO THE RIGHT THING ALWAYS and #19 TREAT EACH OTHER LIKE FAMILY so we’ve decided to stay open to take care of our guests and allow our teammates to earn a full paycheck. I’ve come up with training curriculum for all of our departments so we’ll be BETTER, STRONGER, FASTER and MORE EFFICIENT when this finally blows over and we can get back to business.”

Leading by example

These are just a few of the amazing stories we’re hearing from our clients.  Knowing the caliber of the leaders we work with, I’m not surprised to hear of such examples of leadership and compassion.   Yet, given the uncertainty of these times and the demands on these leaders, the stories are remarkable, nonetheless.    For it’s one thing to say what we’d do in the face of a crisis, it’s another thing entirely to actually do it.  It’s heartwarming to know that our clients have been able to lean into and depend on their Fundamentals to guide them and (as Michael Pahl suggests) come out even better when we get through this crisis.

If you’d like to talk more about how to lean on your culture in times of crisis, click the button below.  Or, join us at our annual Culture Summit in October.

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