"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."
Business Leadership's Response to Terror
by Gayle Turner, Principal and Founder, Beckett Advisors, Inc.
I was asked, "How do the events of September 11, 2001 effect the way we do business?" I replied, "They don't."
"How can you say that? People are afraid. CEOs who formerly were all about growth have adopted a 'turtle' approach, they've pulled back inside their shell and they're waiting for things to be safe again before they do anything."
I replied, "During the (Great) depression, FDR said, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."
"...there is very little that we as individuals or even corporations can do about terrorism."
I'm a big fan of the concept of focusing on the things within your 'sphere of influence' that you can do something about. Now, beyond taking sensible precautions, there is very little that we as individuals or even corporations can do about terrorism. We have to trust to the intelligence community, the police and the military to do their jobs. Theirs is a nearly impossible task, but they are still the best suited for dealing with the problem.
However, there is one very important action we as business leaders can take. We can continue to live our lives. We can focus on serving our customers and growing our businesses.
9.11 changed our experience of our world. We are not used to living with the fear of terror in our own land. We now live with a government that is preparing for the inevitability of more attacks against North Americans.
None the less, if we slow down, the people (who believe they have the right to kill innocent people) win. If we batten down the hatches, cut jobs (ask those left behind to wear five hats and work 12-hour days) and stop investing in growing our companies, we will lose business muscle and the terrorists win again.
"We as business leaders must focus on serving our customers and growing our businesses."
Our responsibility is to our families, our employees, our communities and the world to, in the immortal words of the Grateful Dead, 'keep on truckin'.
Yes, it's scary. But, courage is when you're scared and you still do what needs to be done. Now is a time when we are called upon to be courageous. Even though we are scared, we must keep our eyes on our responsibilities and meet our obligations. Authors and educators Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus said it well, "Managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing."
Let's do the right thing-let's get back to work and do our jobs of leading-growing our businesses and strengthening our communities.
After all, this is America, the home of the brave.
Gayle Turner is Principal & Founder of Beckett Advisors, Inc., a strategic marketing firm based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at email@example.com