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Dave Pearce

crisis and leadership

Crisis and Leadership | How Your CEO Group Can Help During COVID-19

Crisis and Leadership | How Your CEO Group Can Help During COVID-19

crisis and leadership

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Or maybe it should say the tough KEEP going.  An old saying but true. This quote has been attributed to both John F. Kennedy’s father and legendary football coach Knute Rockne.

The quote has always had a special meaning, and especially now, when leading and managing your business during volatile and uncertain times, you find yourself continually faced with new challenges. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go it alone and you shouldn’t.  CEOs are expected to show calm and optimism at the same time.  Everyone wants us to demonstrate empathy—and, at the same time, be highly engaged and fact-based in our actions.  We are supposed to not only have a perfect long-term view but also be agile in the midst of the storms we all continually face. The COVID-19 crisis is a once-in-a-century event, and no training or experience in previous downturns has prepared CEOs for it.

1. Get Other Perspectives

If you are part of a CEO group, you will be getting other leader’s views on your situation, and they can provide an outside perspective you wouldn’t necessarily be able to see.  You will gain exposure to new ideas, new approaches, and have a solid sounding board – that has your best interest at heart.

2. Enjoy Some Comradarie and Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Start with your own feelings. It’s vital that you are demonstrating empathy, but now YOU need to be open to compassion from others.  Find ways to continue to stay inspired.  Think of one thing each day that you are grateful for.  To avoid burnout, look for energy boosters– maybe it’s an early-afternoon call with a dear friend – or a person from your CEO group. Prepare for the tough meetings or calls by taking a walk. Exercise is a tested and proven way to restore energy; you could plan sports at home or around the office during your lunch break a few times a week. One CEO  stopped holding Friday afternoon meetings to enable everyone to catch their breath.

3. Steps 1 & 2 will Enable you to Be a Better Supporter to Your Employees and Your Clients

Being and staying isolated has had unintended consequences. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, business leaders are focused on the here and now of the COVID-19 pandemic and justifiably so. However, there’s a looming second-order mental health crisis that is only beginning to emerge as a result of global quarantines and a massive, sudden shift to working from home. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 75% of people say they feel more socially isolated, 67% of people report higher stress, 57% are feeling greater anxiety, and 53% say they feel more emotionally exhausted. Those numbers are from a global study of over 2,700 employees across more than ten industries undertaken by Qualtrics and SAP during March and April of 2020.

As a CEO, you need to be sure to ask both employees and clients how they are doing.  Connect with your team regularly.  And have your managers do the same, both with their staff and with their clients.

What is the End Benefit to These Ideas?

Your employees and their teams will see your resilience and will mirror it.  Your strength will help sustain your future.  Your strength and stability will support your clients.


how to create a positive work environment

How To Create a Positive Work Environment | Celebrating Success In the Workplace

How To Create a Positive Work Environment | Celebrating Success In the Workplace

how to create a positive work environment

With all of the ups and downs in business, how do you create and maintain a positive work environment?

Sometimes we have an overload of negative issues that impact us as leaders but we have to remember to sort out the bad and focus on the good. Here are a few tactics to help CEO’s and other leaders.

Be Proactive & Evaluate Your Leadership

Start by asking yourself three simple questions: Am I taking this personally? Am I putting in too many hours so I have lost focus? Will this issue have a real impact on the business?

If the answer is no to all three, you can put the situation behind you. If the answer is to the impact on business impact and workload, it will be important to bring in your key team members. Start by conducting a planning meeting to address the facts, and how you and the whole team can address the current issue now and in the future. Bear in mind for this meeting and at all times in the office, you may play a bigger role than you realize in keeping the atmosphere positive. Try turning to the focus on something like a joke or a funny story instead of a dark portended future.

If you are putting too many hours in, take some time off on your calendar. Many leaders forget to take care of themselves, causing things to come out sideways or be viewed sideways when they are exhausted. This when it’s time to take a break. We all need rest. We all need time to rejuvenate.

Being away from work is a necessary part of high performance. According to a recent report from CNN, “About 90 percent of C-Level Execs struggle with work-life balance,” and say that “their jobs are exhausting and emotional.” You have to remember you are the only one who can do something about it. Most CEOs don’t take care of their own personal performance, they struggle at being at their best every day, “We have that training for athletes, why don’t we have it for CEOs looking after hundreds of thousands of people?” Therefore, it is vital for CEOs to set firm work-life boundaries and to make sure they have interests and values outside of work.  As counter-intuitive as it may seem when you feel so busy, take time off. Even a day off can reset your perspective when you are most overwhelmed. It’s a smart thing to do regularly.

Plan to Celebrate Success, Big or Small

Ask teammates to share success stories. This can be a positive exercise that encourages future successes. A lot can be learned from one person’s which can help other team members grow or spark thoughts on what they might improve in the way they work. For example, a member of your team has an exceptionally high level of customer satisfaction. Over time she developed her own flow to deal with inquiries and follow up with clients, which has proven to be effective. Allow the employee to go over how and why she created the process she did.

By sharing the positive feedback she received, it not only showcases her work ethic but is also a teaching moment to her peers.  This is a nice way of celebrating the success of a teammate that will also benefit the whole team’s performance. This can be done once a month. Nominations can be voted on by team members and be presented by the “winner.”

Recognize Effort

As a leader, it’s important to take time to celebrate your direct reports achievements. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and move on to executing the next task. To support team motivation, victories big and small should be celebrated. Here are a few best practices:

  1. Public recognition can be even more impactful. There’s no need to go all out; it can be as simple as bringing it up at a team meeting, sharing it with people outside your direct team, or sending a company-wide email. In addition to making your team members feel valued, it also boosts their self-esteem.
  2. A handwritten thank-you note already goes a long way, but in some cases, you may want to recognize someone’s achievement with a bigger reward. It doesn’t have to be extremely costly; it’s the gesture that counts.

The key to success for rewards is to ensure they are personalized. This shows that you’re not only celebrating your team member’s work but that you also took the time to get to know them as a person. Make an effort to find out what your employees like, what their hobbies are, and what they are passionate about. For example, if an employee likes reading, a book signed by his or her favorite author could make a great gift.

Maintaining a Positive Environment

Building and maintaining a strong team through hard times and good times is a challenging job, particularly when you are busy.  Take the time to share your team’s success by celebrating them.  Recognize employee achievement and your workforce will be more engaged, motivated and loyal.  And make time for yourself in the process – do something fun!

2020 Kick-off meeting

Make a Bigger Impact at Your 2020 Kick-Off Meeting

Make a Bigger Impact at Your 2020 Kick-Off Meeting

2020 Kick-off meeting

Most CEOs and business leaders have their business plans complete well ahead of the next operating year, let alone their kick-off meeting. However, planning is just one part. You can probably agree that the best-laid strategies of any organization are useless without proper implementation. 

How Will Your Company Make a Bigger Impact?

That being said, strategies are often far from straightforward, because a corporate strategy is by its nature conceptual and often complex. In a recent study from the Economist Intelligence Unit sponsored by the Project Management Institute, 61% of respondents acknowledge that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and day-to-day implementation. Moreover, in the last three years, an average of just 56% of strategic initiatives have been successful. Such poor implementation means that a company’s stated strategy fails to shape what happens in practice: only a small minority of respondents say that their business model is extremely well aligned with strategy. Not surprisingly, companies that are poorly aligned with their strategy also report weaker financial results than their peers.

Most companies have likely already had a 2020 kick-off meeting, but now is an important step. Following up, and following through with the plans you laid out.

Best Practices to Help Us Stay on Track

Stay engaged:

Survey respondents say the number-one reason for the success of strategic initiatives at their organization is leadership buy-in and support. Yet 50% of people who participated in the PMI study said that strategy implementation does not receive C-suite attention. 


Rather than micromanaging, C-suite executives should identify and focus on the key initiatives and projects that are strategically relevant.  Let your assigned team members focus on the details.


Ensure you have the infrastructure to support the implementation of your key initiatives. This may mean hiring the right staff, or perhaps hiring an interim executive(s) who have the specific skills or leadership ability you need and who will provide the focused energy to implement your strategic initiatives.


Incorporate feedback mechanisms along the way. That way, you know you are on track with the initiatives being implemented and can monitor your progress.

See Your Plan Through

If you can keep these best practices in place throughout the year, you can prepare to reap the rewards.  Of the companies that implement these best practices, 65% also report much better financial performance than their peers.  Don’t be the 18% that doesn’t!

Implementing Organizational Change

Implementing Organizational Change With The Brain In Mind

Implementing Organizational Change With The Brain In Mind

Implementing Organizational Change

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein

Think about where your business was five years ago, what has changed? In retrospect, what was the impact of the changes on your organization?  The pace and structure of our lives and the business world today is fast and continually moving. The more changes we institute the easier it is to either forget, ignore or get lazy about managing change down to the individual level where it happens.

We recently had Kristin Evenson from Junctures speak to us at EAG about the brain and change. The main message of her talk was how the brain organizes everything by threat or reward, even change! Things that are perceived as threat literally reduce our brain’s processing capacity and ability to respond. She explains how as leaders we have the opportunity to change and manage these perceptions to the greater good of the individuals and the organization as a whole. 

How the Brain Reacts to Change

First, it’s about being aware of the social threats—SCARF threats, as defined by David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute—that govern the brain.

The five SCARF threats are:

  • Status – feeling less than or better than others
  • Certainty – ability to predict outcomes
  • Autonomy – sense of control
  • Relatedness – in-group or out-of-group
  • Fairness – perception of fair exchange

Organizational change initiatives—whether large or small—can trigger any and all of these threats!  So how can we as leaders help mitigate and better manage these while keeping our employee’s minds open, positive and creative?

How to Implement Organizational Change

The most productive way to implement change is by thinking of each SCARF threat and be realistic with what will happen with change.

    • Status – “How will this impact my job, title, team, influence?”
      • Ask people’s opinion and seek their advice
      • Listen and demonstrate empathy
      • Include and show appreciation
      • Be transparent with what you do know
    • Certainty – “How will this all shake out?”
      • Refocus on what is certain
      • Be open about what you ARE certain about
      • Set goals & expectations and stay the course
      • Communicate often and with transparency
    • Autonomy – “Do I lose control over my work?”
      • Delegate clearly and co-decide on tasks
      • Coach and encourage self-directed learning
      • Allow the team to make their own decisions
      • Pay attention to when directive is needed
    • Relatedness – “Does my role change or might I lose my job and therefore all my colleagues at work?”
      • Find things everyone has in common
      • Get to know what motivates people
      • Encourage everyone’s input & team cohesion
      • Listen, coach and mentor
    • Fairness – “Will everyone be treated equally?”
      • Ensure everyone has access to information
      • Acknowledge emotions and show empathy
      • Understand that fair does not mean equal
      • Don’t shy away from behavioral issues

Our goal as leaders is to not only introduce and lead change but to also increase our people’s capacity to navigate and execute it.  Being proactive to address SCARF threats is a critical investment in ensuring needed change actually happens, and that your people are able to respond at their fullest capacity—able to think creatively and courageously about what’s next.