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Wartime Leaders

Unprecedented. Historic. Seismic. Sometimes there are not adjectives big enough to describe current events.

We started this year with record-low unemployment and record-high profitability. Just as the low tide exposes all the rocks, this year has exposed many gaps in so many things. I am sure your organization as well has not been “business as usual.”

I wanted to speak of and towards leaders for a minute. As a professional, now is the time to evaluate the leaders around you.

Has the leadership at your company risen to the challenge? Are they working the problem or waiting for it to go away? Are they leading with integrity and emotional intelligence? Are they behaving like the servant-leader you want, or have they put themselves and the rest of the executive team first? Do they admit they do not have all the answers but clearly communicate the situation and strategy moving forward? Do they admit their mistakes or double-down on bad ideas and practices?

The same could be said for our elected officials.

There have been some extraordinary examples of outstanding leadership coming from the C-Suite and halls of government. There have also been extraordinary examples of terrible leadership as well.

I recognize that these are unprecedented times – and many have given lots of latitude to leaders because of it. I disagree. For years many CEO's have been making 100-200 times the compensation of their average employee. Now more than ever, is their performance worth it? Have they built a world-class team that is responding with agility, resilience, and precision? If not, then maybe they are not the right person for the job.

Likewise, every politician ran on their belief that they were the right person for the job.

Many leaders have just not been up to the challenge that COVID-19 has presented, much less an intelligent thoughtful and meaningful response to civil unrest.

In the military, one of the core evaluations as a leader is if you were the kind of leader people would want to go to war with. It meant that your troops had the confidence in your ability to lead under fire. The skills that "peacetime generals" relied on to be successful failed them when the war stared. Every war the US has fought has had examples of peacetime generals eventually being replaced by wartime leaders who could get the job done.

Well, we are at war right now. We are fighting the virus and the economic disaster associated with it. We are fighting decades of social injustice and growing inequality. There is no room for peacetime generals. We need wartime leadership now.

Ask yourself this: Are your leaders the people you want to go to war with?

If the answer is no, then it might be time for a change. You can vote at the ballot box, or you can vote with your feet. Every job seeker we work with is looking for a company with strong leaders, and it is readily apparent which organizations have strong leaders and which do not.

If you are a leader, are you earning your keep? Will your people go to war with or for you? If not, make a change. Now. Your team deserves your absolute best. If you are not able to give that to them, or your best is just not enough, maybe it is time for you to make a change. They will thank you for it.

At the Rivet Group, we are dedicated to strong leaders – we want them to be successful and help them find the right team to accomplish their mission - whatever that may be.

If you are ready to change teams, or build a new one, we can help. Visit us at to learn more.

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