“’Our survival, the future of our civilization, possibly the existence of mankind, depends on American leadership.’”
– Charles Lindbergh
What does it mean to be a leader during a time of world crisis?
When I published the first collection of Profiles in Success, our country was still reeling from the Great Recession. Not only had we experienced an economic crisis unlike anything since the 1930s, but we also faced a crisis of trust in our major institutions. We eventually came back from that disaster, but some might say the level of trust never really returned. It was the disparagement of our American companies during that time that motivated me to start sharing the limitless stories of hardworking, ethical executives within the Washington DC area whose ingenuity and ethical leadership never wavered and who would ultimately help lead America into an economic expansion of record proportions.
Now, as I write the introduction to this 15th volume of profiles, our world finds itself once again mired in another crisis of seismic magnitude. Within a very short period of time, we went from learning about the existence of a novel coronavirus in China, to the declaration of a United States national emergency. All at once everything changed and our priorities drastically shifted. As executives and business owners we are now concerned with our health and that of our family, the well-being of our employees and customers, and the sustainability of our businesses.
As I peruse the chapter titles of this volume, it strikes me just how appropriate they are for leadership in the age of COVID-19. Walter Deyhle recommends, “Always go to work wondering what new situation you’re going to encounter, today.” Richard Duvall attributes “An Attitude for Gratitude” as a key factor in his commitment to community service. A shining example of what small businesses can contribute to our communities, Courtney Fairchild chooses to “Embrace the Challenges.” And Dr. Lily Talakoub is “Obsessed with Taking Care of People,” a philosophy each of us are now being called to adopt.
Brett Coffee discusses the survival and leadership skills he developed while earning his Eagle Scout pin – not the least of which is the ability to navigate. This aptitude has served him well throughout life and will no doubt be vital as he negotiates the current business landscape. Tripp Donnelly is “An Active Participant in Mankind” because of a lesson that taught him kindness shouldn’t be confused for weakness. As an active participant he refuses to sit in the bleachers, choosing instead to put others before himself – investing in family and teammates. Col. Greg Gadson’s message is similar in his refusal to quit contributing despite what others might perceive as a disability.
“A Governance to Make an Impact” is the profile of Rob Quartel, whose belief in public policy and the idea that you can bring good management to government, have guided him throughout his professional career. Efficiency and logistical proficiency are certainly prized at a time like these. As are the lessons of grit and self-sufficiency from Elaine Rogers who has spent over 43 years passionately committed to providing crucial needs-based programs and services for our nation’s military service members and their families.
It remains to be seen who history will deem the leadership heroes from this era. But in the meantime, it falls to each one of us to step up in any way we can, and probably in ways well beyond that which we ever expected. Our executive leadership has taken on a new, wide-ranging role – with influence well beyond our usual stakeholders to the broader society. Now is the time to inspire your organizations to help the world work through the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. If ever there was a time for honest, transparent LEADERS WITH CHARACTER, it is now.
As for me, I remain committed to leading with Character, Chemistry, Caring and Competence in order to fortify trusting relationships and make a positive impact everywhere I can.
Gordon J. Bernhardt
President and Founder
Bernhardt Wealth Management, Inc.