proactive and in charge, rather thansimply reacting—often too late—toevents as they unfold.
For Mike de Koning, CEO of All-
state Benefits in Jacksonville, Florida,
decisiveness meant quickly moving to
a remote working environment:
“I knew that if we moved slowly,
our people would suffer. To prevent
that, I charged our executive team
with providing our entire staff with
VPN access. People with laptops
started working from home immedi-
ately. The remainder were given new
machines and trained on how to login.
Within three days, 97% of our staffwas working online. It was an amazing team effort, and those we serve—brokers and policyholders—saw noservice interruption.”
The rise of COVID- 19 is not simply abusiness challenge, but a human tragedy that will impact the lives and healthof virtually every one of your company’s stakeholders. This is why oneof the key responsibilities of leadersduring a time of crisis is to have a positive impact on people’s lives—not justeconomically, but on a personal level.
Fear and isolation generate a variety of responses. Some people becomeangry, while others fall into depression. When this occurs, the fabric ofsociety begins to shred. One of theroles of a leader is to prevent theshredding. The key is maintaining thehuman touch.
Mike Patton, CEO of Quandary In-
surance in Denver, Colorado, believes
that compassion extends beyond his
“As CEO, my responsibility is not
only to my employees, but to my com-
munity. I sit on the board of a local not-
for-profit program that conducts job
training for homeless women. When
COVID- 19 hit, many of the graduates
of this program were laid off. Rath-
er than watch them suffer through
economic hardship, we decided to run
an online auction. To date, the auction
has raised more than $30,000 to help
these women through the crisis.”
With so many people either laid off or
Emerge strong and united
working from home, maintaining a con-
nection can prove to be a challenge.
With the aid of technology, it is a chal-
lenge the CEO can easily overcome.
Today, we have a multitude of apps
and platforms that enable us to hold
online meetings, conferences and
seminars. Many of these contain video
functionality that allows us to see and
hear the other participants.
Recognizing the need for the com-
pany’s stakeholders to stay connect-
ed, the CEO and other leaders can
leverage these tools to build a virtual
community in the midst of a crisis.
The CEO can also create a video blog
where each week, he reaches out to
his company’s virtual community, then
invites comment and feedback. The
solutions are many. All that is required
is the will to make them happen.
COVID- 19 has hit us hard. Whilewe need to acknowledge its deadlyeffects, we must also not succumb tofear and paranoia. Throughout our nation’s history, we have been confrontedby crises that seemed insurmountable.And yet we not only overcame thosecrises, but emerged stronger and moreunited. Working together and with theleadership of our country’s businessesand leaders, we will do so again.
Be well. Lead well.
Trey Taylor is the CEO of Taylor InsuranceServices, managing director of trinity |blue, an executive coaching consultancy,and the founding partner of AscendPartners, an equity investment vehiclefocused on the employee benefits space.
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