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Lessons Shared By Business Leaders From COVID-19

Many business leaders will remember 2020 as an ultimate test of all aspects of business or organizational management. Most experienced difficulties and hardship. But for some, paralysis by fear was never an option, including the four below. With a year of learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders now have hard won wisdom and experience to help them navigate uncertain terrain.

Park Nicollet Foundation

Elizabeth Warner, executive director of the Park Nicollet Foundation, sums up her approach by saying, “It’s not about you. It’s about what you do for others.” This idea of servant leadership builds trust and shared values around a common vision for working together as a team. She stresses the need for over-communicating and being consistent, calm and honest.

Froehling Anderson

David Benusa, CPA, MBT and the CEO of the accounting firm Froehling Anderson, also reached out to employees as soon as they started working remotely. They surveyed technology needs and conducted training sessions for effectively engaging clients. Zoom happy hours and trivia sessions kept employees in contact with each other. The partners met regularly to discuss best practices, and Froehling Anderson surveyed clients in June to assess communications and efficiencies. Looking ahead, Benusa identifies a key challenge for remote workers. “How do we recruit and train long-term? There are a lot of details that we need to work through in terms of professional development, maintaining our culture and meeting client expectations.” Partners will discuss firm policies at an upcoming leadership retreat. 

Business & Estate Advisers

At Business & Estate Advisers, President Sarah Kaelberer notes that though some things changed, the company’s core values did not. “The ‘why’ and the ‘what’ never changed,” she states, “just the ‘how.’” By that she means there was a shift to virtual meetings and recorded presentations, but B&E’s focus on staying on top of investment, insurance and tax matters meant clients never had to experience a “new normal.” Her leadership maintained a sense of stability and reliability even during the worst months of the pandemic.

Hellmuth & Johnson

The law firm Hellmuth & Johnson also worked hard to get back to “normal.” “On June 1, we issued a comprehensive preparedness plan for our firm,” partner David Hellmuth recalls. “Since then, we have had the full participation of our company in working every day from our office.” Adaptability and a commitment to employee safety supported familiar workflows for Hellmuth & Johnson. In addition, Hellmuth & Johnson expanded its capabilities for remote access allowing employees to work remotely if they felt more comfortable doing so.

In all four instances, leadership met the demands of the moment with creativity, collaboration and decisive action. Few people predicted a global pandemic on January 1, 2020, but in the months that followed leading to the present, business leaders learned a lot at a rapid pace. It’s impossible to predict how the pandemic will wind down, but leaders at every level of an organization are now even better prepared to move forward and not just survive but thrive.

Published on: March 17, 2021