CRE Opinion

What A Global Economic Crisis Should Have Taught Us About Leadership

How many businesses will fall back into old habits when our comfort zones return, asks CONTI co-founder Carlos Vaz.

“There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable.” —Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski

The reality of 2020 has brought us unprecedented challenges and shone a light on business leadership and the core values we stand upon. Comfort and routine conveniences have given way to business closures, historic unemployment, and social unrest. This global economic crisis has exposed vulnerabilities within our organizations and helped us prioritize what is most important to our businesses.

What Defines Us
Carlos Vaz
Courtesy of Company

I have always believed our people, culture, and core values are the principles we build a solid organization around. These things help define the character of an organization. They help position us in times of growth and better prepare us for times of uncertainty. This crisis made us remember who we want to be as a company. It challenged us to be the leaders we want to be for our teams. It challenged us to exemplify the type of relationship we want with our clients, residents, and all those touched by our business.

I view 2020 as a war on uncertainty.

In turn, one critical sentiment I have wanted to imbue in every layer of our company was a sense of certainty wherever possible. Now more than ever, like so many other businesses, our resolve must be centered around our people, our relationships, our core business, and our resiliency when we act together.

Your staff are individuals with their own families, struggles, and needs. Your team has been exposed to the hurricane of information and emotions in today’s media. They may have a spouse who was just laid-off, be overburdened with new homeschooling requirements, or even have a relative sick with COVID-19. Be the leader they need. Whatever their reality is, we, as leaders, must show them our humanity and make sure every team member feels heard, feels safe, and is given the resources they need to succeed. Alone, we accomplish nothing of long-term value. Together, we build momentum and cohesiveness to overcome. Together, we will find the way.

The Flexibility to Adapt

War is not won on defense alone; however, downturns also present opportunity. We must be forward-looking. We must proactively position ourselves as a team and, as a company, to come away stronger when we emerge into the “new normal” as an economy. I believe preparedness is the key to this flexibility. Having a solid foundation of people, culture, and core values allows a company to spend more energy adapting rather than reacting. Time can be invested in looking ahead at emerging market opportunities and how the business can provide value and relevance amid the noise.

Take Action as Leaders

How many businesses will fall back into old habits should our comfort zones return? Be the company that adopts the processes, policy, technology, and communication that facilitates efficiency in or out of the office environment.

Do not wait. You are the person that is going to make this happen. Stephen Covey famously said, “If you don’t choose to do it in leadership time upfront, you do it in crisis management time down the road.”

No-one can predict the future. But 2020 has taught us the world economies are interwoven, dependent, and at times, fragile. Decide who you are as a company and as a leader. Decide what you believe in and who you surround yourself with. Let those be a source of strength and let that strength be a service to those you do business with.

Carlos Vaz is co-founder and CEO for CONTI Organization, a real estate investment company focused on multifamily properties in Texas.

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