A New Year: A New Chance at Hope

Someone recently asked me what my hope is for 2021. I had two answers. For humanity, I hope for hope, because as a society, we must find hope and learn to trust again to heal the wounds from 2020. For Argus, I have hope for progress and focus in 2021 as we build upon our new abilities developed throughout 2020.

This past year stole a lot from a lot of people. It was a year that started with exuberance but quickly brought people to their knees burdened by the heavy weight of a pandemic, social and political turmoil, a volatile economy, and countless natural disasters.

I will admit, I found it hard to stay focused and positive at certain points throughout this past year. Not only was I feeling the pressures of leading a company through a crisis, but I was also feeling the emotional effects of 2020 at home. My wife, a counselor at a nearby community college, has seen the toll that 2020 has taken on young people in the form of depression and anxiety. She has been a rock for them. We have both watched and supported our two sons, my youngest experiencing the perils of navigating college mid-Covid himself; and my eldest who has spent his first year as a registered nurse taking care of patients in the ICU. Working 60-hour weeks, he has been at bedsides as the patient’s only support and caregiver and comforted family members through difficult phone conversations. He has shown us that he is wise beyond his years and we’ve been humbled by his ability to face these heavy responsibilities with such professionalism and compassion. My wife and I are so proud of both of them. 

Despite the challenges of this year, I continue to have hope because I am surrounded by people who will not give up on it, even in the most trying of circumstances.

As we say goodbye to 2020 and set our sights on 2021, as business leaders, let’s remember to rely on what we have learned, continue to lead with hope, and be encouraging and optimistic while also being honest.

In 25 years, when I am long retired, I hope a young business leader asks me for leadership advice and how Argus navigated the “great crisis of 2020.” I think this is what I would say:

  • Lean on your vision and values. If your organization has truly bought in to your company’s vision and values, you can do anything. At Argus, everyone believes in our ability to continue charting this storm, because our foundation is solid. Our culture was right where it needed to be to navigate the challenges of 2020 as a team. 
  • Trust your people. When we abruptly shifted to a 100% remote workforce, we knew we would only be successful if we trusted our people to do their jobs. Our only rule was one of flexibility for people to be able to get their jobs done well and effectively manage their personal lives. We never wanted to be the reason why someone was struggling.
  • Follow your gut. When things are crazy, time can be your friend. Following your gut can help you understand what needs an immediate decision and what you can take more time on. Going into complete crisis mode on everything can cloud your judgment. If you remain calm and you are in a financially strong position, you can walk your way through most things and know when you need to act quickly.
  • Embrace the opportunity to do things differently. 2020 forced us to connect with clients and prospective clients in different, but good, ways. We made deeper connections and expanded our relationships through virtual and on-demand presentations. Companies used to be financially limited to only send one or two people to an industry conference; now we are reaching people with fuels education opportunities across the globe as often as needed. We have learned that a hybrid digital and in-person communication approach is critical moving forward.
  • Remember this quote. “None of us is as smart as all of us,” – Ken Blanchard. We were not meant to go alone as individuals and certainly not as leaders. Reaching out to trusted advisors and mentors is key to navigating challenges providing sounding boards, feedback and wisdom.

Many leaders have commented that no leadership course or textbook could have prepared you for the decisions you would have to make in 2020. But I tend to disagree. The basics of good business are what have carried us through this year. If you have good people, trust within your team, a solid foundation and your vision and values truly are your guiding light, you will be as prepared as you will ever be for a year like 2020, and a year like 2021, whatever it may bring.

What is the start of 2021 going to look like at your organization?

At Argus, we’ll start with progress and focus… We will give people time to celebrate everything we accomplished in 2020: how we used challenges as opportunities to improve many areas of our business and found ways to serve our clients better than ever. This is another reason I have hope. Our teams’ work in 2020 will pay returns in 2021, and I look forward to seeing the amazing things our company accomplishes in the coming year. 

Wishing you all the best for the holiday season and a hopeful and prosperous 2021. 

Originally published at LinkedIn.