A Letter To A Wartime CEO
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
A note from our CEO: In the midst of so much uncertainty, it is mission critical that as business leaders, we remain committed to our values. As the spread of the virus grows, so grows our resolve to remain steadfast in our commitments to our team and clients. The following is a reflection on leadership and the resilience of a remarkable team during this crisis.
To The Wartime CEO,
I need you to take the helm as storms have consumed the horizon. We’ve battened down the hatches, we’ve preserved our resources and your leadership is crucial to weather the tempest.
A few months ago the economy had reached an unprecedented zenith, opportunities were vast, and the market was vibrant. The team was centered, focused and we had a firm hold on a successful year. At the same time, half a world away, a seemingly insignificant microorganism quietly transferred from an innocuous animal to a human. It was a tiny moment in history, similar to billions of moments that occur everyday, but this transfer began a cascade that savagely threatened our health and crippled our economy.
You’ve been in the wings since our beginnings and until this point we haven’t needed you, but no one could have predicted a black swan of this magnitude. As I step aside to allow your leadership to guide us, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts.
Our values, both tested and untested remain intact. We have not yielded or compromised on our defining character. We continue to champion the grit of our team as we bravely face these challenges with confidence. We protect the integrity of the team and our clients through our commitment to precision and excellence. We channel our scientific curiosity and passion in order to discover impactful truth. We transform a hope for the positive role science will play for humanity through our labor and dedication. Most of all, particularly now, we rely on love. Love between teammates when circumstance dictates trust over consensus. Love for our clients and customers who depend on the team to deliver without deviation. Love for our community as it reels from the virus, a virus which has indiscriminately destroyed the livelihood of those most vulnerable and shattered entrepreneurial dreams.
As of today, dynamics will shift. The flexible and flat culture that has been so integral to your success will remain intact, however, you must be cognizant of how leadership must evolve during this time.
In order to maintain a secure position, decisions must be quickly categorized. These decisions will require either empirical substantiation, or instinctive execution. The gravity of the decision, the resources at stake, and the timing will contribute to this classification. Delegate the gathering of data when a decision requires it, and act decisively when it does not. You must realize this for your own leadership and promote it throughout the rest of the team. There will be unilateral decisions that you make, or the members of the team will make. There may not be time for a Socratic exercise to build consensus. This is acceptable and necessary. The team has built an incredible relationship of communication and transparency under my peacetime watch, and can afford the required trust in you and each other to continue operations under these conditions. Continue to build compassion and trust to such that you may execute decisively without hindrance.
Maintain transparency with the team. Tumult may be in our future, but exposing the team to a challenge and enlisting their support is likely the best way to identify a solution. Let your demeanor demonstrate a balance between the tribulations we are facing with the resolve to persevere. Failure to do so will convey either blissful apathy or crippling anxiety. You are human too, demonstrate that honestly, with intention and you’ll find the team is as battle-hardened as circumstances require.
Have faith in the relationships we have built with our clients. No document, contract or Gantt chart is as valuable as a phone call. They have invested in our team, we have not disappointed and we are certainly not going to start now. Reiterate that we’ve protected their interests, restate our positive momentum, and demonstrate our commitment to exceeding their expectations. They too have families, responsibilities, concerns, fears, and the friendships we have established across our portfolio can serve as a comforting support for our team and theirs.
We all exist in multiple ecosystems. Your responsibility is to ensure that the Valkyrie ecosystem is as stable, engaging and inspiring as it possibly can be. Each member of the team is about to face an incredible amount of strife outside of work. Ensure that Valkyrie does not exacerbate but rather alleviates their stressors. Be prepared to support the team as they deal with loss and pain from outside of Valkyrie and to be a holistic resource for comfort and encouragement. We’ve done an exemplary job of creating an antifragile business to date and we ask you now to continue to build on our upward trajectory.
I envy you. I envy the transformation you’re about to witness. What I now pass to you is a team that has performed admirably in ideal conditions, realizing our potential. What you will soon return to me is a team that has weathered the storm and emerged with an immutable resolve and an indomitable spirit. A team that has persevered through a cataclysm without compromising on character. Under your leadership the team will transcend to new heights, redefine our potential and they will do so in unison.
Inspire them through the breach with fervor, always progressing. If the task is daunting, smile back with tenacious resolve. I look forward to the day when tranquility is once again before us, until then, you have the helm.
The PeaceTime CEO