During the pandemic, Texas showed why it remains the nation’s most attractive place to establish and grow a business. But that doesn’t mean that we Texas executives had it easy—far from it. If you’re like me, you’re still facing uncertainty, still working out what a drastically changed world looks like.
Fortunately, the pandemic came along with some clear leadership lessons that I will carry forward through the rest of my career. These are my top 3. I’m sure you have your own.
A little positivity goes a long way in the office.
Over two turbulent years, it’s been easy to fall into a negative mental rut. With loss and change all around us, how could it not? However, I’ve noticed that consistent positivity feeds the spirit of my colleagues, the people who look to me to lead and grow the business. It’s sometimes the little things like that make the biggest impact. When I check on my teams first thing in the morning with a smile and an upbeat outlook, it sets the tone for everyone. A positive outlook builds motivation, which in turn creates a healthier and more productive work environment.
Of course, not all of us are onsite together full time, or at all. You can still work positivity into communications with your team. Giving an employee a call just to compliment them on an achievement, ask how they are, or share good news is one way to keep the positive mindset. This also builds a sense of citizenship in the organization, even when people are distributed.
Retention is just as important as recruitment.
We’ve all heard about the “Great Resignation” ad nauseam at this point, but it’s a very real phenomenon with consequences for Texas businesses—which, like all businesses, thrive primarily on talent. As CEOs, many of us have long operated with recruiting new talent as a priority. That’s a great thing. We should always be on the lookout for people whose abilities can make a transformative impact on the business.
But—especially as the dust settles from a world-shaking pandemic—we cannot forget to show our current teams the respect and appreciation they deserve. It’s likely some of them are burnt out, stressed, possibly having taken on more work than they’re used to. My rule of thumb has become to above all listen to my employees, show that I hear them through words and action, and treat them like trusted partners. Employees who know you trust them show great loyalty and much better results.
Ultimately, it’s about empathy. If you can step in their shoes and show them you care, you’re going to have a much better chance of retaining the people who make your business successful.
Self-education is always worth the time.
Finally, in this pandemic, I learned the power of learning. In a time of volatility, self-education becomes all the more important.
I have always valued learning. In fact, one of my biggest regrets is not taking more specialized business classes before I became an executive. In the beginning stages of my career, for example, I wish I had learned how to analyze a P&L statement, or about the value of seeking out mentors. The pandemic—with its slow periods, sudden crises, and curveballs—has only reinforced my commitment to continuous development.
One of my biggest sources of learning recently has been the leaders I work within my own business. Being hands-on with leaders in all departments of the organization has been extremely beneficial. I may not be a marketing or social media guru, for example, but gaining the basic knowledge in these areas allows me to have better discussions and brainstorming with my teams. It helps me grasp what makes a good marketer or social media professional. And it builds understanding between me and the teammates I rely on.
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For better or worse, many Texas businesses look quite different today than they did in February 2020. But come what may, I plan to continue capitalizing on the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader. I hope you will too.