I keep looking at the “I Voted Today” sticker I picked up as I left the polling station a few weeks ago. It’s stuck to the corner of my computer monitor; a souvenir of the momentous 2020 U.S. election. In the weeks since I voted, however, it has become more than a memento. It has become a daily reminder that we vote every day. We vote with our thoughts and how we choose to view the world. We vote with our words and what we put out into the world. We vote with our deeds and how we shape the world through our interactions with others, the things we buy and consume, the investments we make with our time and money.
These are unsettling times for our organizations. Demand for our products and services is uncertain. Our supply chains are threatened by the pandemic and politics. Our people – our employees, our customers, and our partners – are fearful. And our investors are anxious. These are critical times for executives to not just manage, but to lead. As with politicians, your organization’s constituents are looking for strong leadership, and as we saw in the recent U.S. election, people care deeply about your platform, your party, and your personality.
They want to know your platform or mission and whether it has changed in 2020. Do people still know what you and your organization stand for and what your goals are, not just by what you say but also by what you do? They want to work with and for companies and leaders that remain focused and true to their mission in times of difficulty. And if the new circumstances do require your mission to evolve, they want to understand why and how. The current times are a rare opportunity to purposefully clarify, align to, and act out the mission that will guide your organization to a brighter future.
They want to know about your party; the organization and culture you are creating to execute your platform. The work environment has been transformed in 2020, with many people displaced and working from home or in more challenging environments. Are you intentionally adapting your leadership and management styles for the new circumstances or just powering through? Are you remaining focused on building and reinforcing your organization’s culture - its sense of unified purpose, its customer-centricity, its appetite for smart risk, its diversity and inclusion? Focusing on your organization’s culture is even more critical today and you can’t solve for it with a virtual happy hour on Friday afternoons.
And finally, they care about your personality. During times of crisis, do you still lead with integrity, wisdom, empathy, and confidence? Are you someone people want to follow? As Maya Angelou pointed out, people won’t remember what you said or even what you did. They will remember how you made them feel. People want leaders that respect and value them, that inspire them, and on whom they can rely. Now more than ever.
Your constituents vote every day. You need them to vote for you and your vision. You need employees to align with your platform and party and do the hard work to enable your organization to emerge on the other side of the pandemic stronger and better positioned for the future. You need customers, partners, and investors to vote for you with their resources, time, and effort.
So, be intentional about your three P’s – platform, party, and personality. Remember, you are also casting your own votes in those areas every day whether you realize it or not.