“Drew, how am I going to feed my family?” The question haunts me to this day. It was 2017 and the US government had just shutdown. The year before, I had taken over as CEO of a distribution company. The company was well positioned, which is how I was able to convince many of my colleagues from the family business we had just sold to follow me to the new company.
Now, I was staring at a turnaround. We were a specialist government contractor and most of our business was indefinitely furloughed. A series of crises were triggered, all hitting at once: our revenue plummeted, and we were bleeding cash; a third-party partnership fell through, and we were suddenly without key warehouse services.
But it’s the question from David that I will most remember. A truck driver for over 30 years, David had started working at our family business before I was even born. He was everything you would want in an employee—which is exactly why I felt the crushing weight of his question. The future was uncertain and he was looking to me as the leader to provide clarity.
Over the course of my career, I have endured several crises. The worst are the ones imposed from the outside by forces you don’t immediately control. Over the last 18 months, many of us have experienced a loss of control in previously unimaginable ways. As we begin a new year, businesses and teams continue to face uncertainties that demand resiliency.
Leadership is hard. But workplaces provide tremendous opportunities for followers of Jesus to build and strengthen meaningful relationships through adversity. I have come to think that if we are doing are jobs well, we should expect that the people that God has surrounded us with will turn to us for clarity. But in such moments, how can we best lead?