As the Chief Executive Officer of a group with 200 employees, as well as a suburban mother and American, my views may be outside the mainstream – or central to what most Americans think. At heart, seven principles guide me now. I share them here.
Gratitude. First, as an American, I am grateful for President Trump’s hands-on, all-in, make-it-happen leadership. I am comfortable with his seasoned team of doctors, policy experts, economic minds and industry leaders, especially Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci. I am pleased an able vice president – and former governor – is at the apex.
Teamwork. Second, I didn’t always manage 200 associates. As a businesswoman, I am aware that only eight percent of CEOs are women. We are under the microscope, yet enormous benefit flows from that. When people wonder, doubt or question, opportunity exists to exceed expectations – in that way to reset their entire universe.
Having been raised in a large family and having raised three children myself, I am happily attuned to shared responsibilities and teamwork. The best teams are composed of good listeners, quick to distill unspoken worries, ready to cover for each other, able to understand each other and the mission.
Men and women both have the ability, but mothers learn early – how to keep order, monitor motivation, assuage concerns in the home, provide guidance and direct action, while getting chores done, food on the table, attitudes up and kids to bed. Figuring out teamwork comes with the territory.
In this crisis, teamwork is vital – working together, although apart. We must lift together, adapt daily, strive to thrive amid the change. Stress is everywhere, but always less when borne together.
While leading, I am also a team member, learning from the resilience, resourcefulness and can-do of others. Collaboration accelerates the win, helping us muddle through what is new, unprecedented.
Thinking of Others. Third, value-add and profit are central to a “going concern,” but social responsibility is the soul of an enterprise. Purpose beyond profit is essential. To whom much is given, much is expected and so we owe those we serve – employees, team members, customers. They are the bedrock on which we stand. In this crisis, they need us – as much as we need them.
Guiding employees, my mind turns to what is “top of mind” for them – health, family, income, transition, continuity. There is nothing more important than health, but giving comfort and courage reinforces health. Employees should know they are not forgotten.
Women in my own life have been golden examples, for generations. I draw on these examples now. My great grandmother was born in 1896, came to America from Hungary at 16, Ellis Island, pennies in her pocket. If she did that, made possible her great granddaughter’s life – my life – what can I not do?
Looking forward. Fourth, hope is grounded – and we must never forget that. These are uncertain times, but America will come out stronger. At nearly 50 years old, I have watched my children grow up, and they are proof that love is its own reward – and younger Americans will process this event, learn from it. It will add resonance to their “voice,” as individuals and Americans. We learn in adversity, just as those before us did. This time will teach appreciation, and as we now lead, they will one day lead.
Keep Faith. Fifth, leaders – of all kinds – must know and lead from context. They must have faith, as faith sustained this nation through darker times. Encouragement is validated by history – especially American history.
Ironically, it is my children who have been most encouraging in this time, reinforcing my faith in a loving God, the future, their generation, the power of the American ideal to pass with unmitigated power from one generation to the next. Faith in a loving God lifts us.
Humor the Critics. Sixth, remember that critics always exist. They are perennial, surfacing in every crisis. Yet men and women who act, who step up, speak up, contribute to solutions, take risks – for their families, companies, communities, towns, and cities – are the force that makes history, not critics.
Some actions will prove wrong but acting is necessary. That is one reason I am so proud of President Trump. He is acting, with resolve, recalibration, concern for all Americans. His task force is an assemblage of independent thinkers, wise and experienced. We should listen more, criticize less. Leading is not for the faint-hearted.
Keep Planning. Last, remember that planning in business and life is paramount. Planning takes time, is often imperfect, but helps minimize external vulnerabilities. That applies to health, finances, everything. Saving, preparing, being flexible when plans are implemented is a touchstone. Crises sharpen planning.
For people who may feel disoriented right now, my best advice would be to begin doing something that makes you feel useful, including helping others. There is no greater reward than sharing a God-given talent with another human soul. Fear is disorienting, but we are given strength to match our fears. We can rise above isolation with faith, renew our confidence.
This is such a time, a chance for reflection, connection and looking forward. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but we do know we are all stronger together. With resolve, we will recover as “one nation, under God, indivisible.”
Rebecca Weber is CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), a 2.1 million-strong, non-partisan group for Americans 50+. She is also a suburban New York mother, writer and community leader.