A Time to Lead with
Purpose and Humanity
We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people.
– Bob Chapman, The Value of Identifying Values, 2012
In a few short weeks, we have entered a crisis unlike anything most of us have ever seen. A crisis where any pre-existing course of action has to be put on hold or reset. A crisis that can naturally lead anyone to feel frustrated, annoyed, overwhelmed, afraid, concerned about themselves and others, and unsure of what to do.
As former CEO of Best Buy, and prior to that Carlson, I’ve had the opportunity to directly speak with a number of CEOs and senior executives navigating the uncertainty, and I’ve watched closely the actions and decisions of many companies in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
All of them are trying to deal with a crisis in which every day brings new challenges, new decisions to make: Should you keep your stores, your manufacturing plants, your offices open? How long should you — or can you — continue to pay your employees?
The key question CEOs and companies are dealing with is how to lead in this environment. While the situation is somewhat reminiscent of the challenges we all faced during the Great Recession — I became CEO of Best Buy in 2012 when the company was supposed to go under — there is no obvious blueprint to follow. But perhaps, the same principles of purposeful, human leadership — such as putting people and customers first, treating profit as an outcome rather than the goal — that we used then can be applied now.