Some Gems Among The Debris Of 2020

Some Gems Among The Debris Of 2020

In what can only be described as a difficult year, there are still some silver linings if you look hard enough. The pandemic has thrown the world into some kind of a parallel universe filled with lockdowns, shutdowns, sickness and death.

The evening news has been hard to watch, and even harder to live through. But pressure can create a diamond and, not surprisingly, there are a few gems scattered among the debris of what in many ways seems like a lost year:

The number of women CFO’s is on the rise. According to data from executive recruiter Crist Kolder Associates, there are 90 female CFOs at S&P 500 and Fortune500 firms, surpassing the previous peak of 89 in 2018, Bloomberg reports. Recent female CFO appointments include Ann Gugino at Papa John’s, Gina Goetter at Harley Davidson, among others.

This warms my heart. I have had the distinct privilege of being a corporate board member since 2003. I have written books and given talks all across the land about how women make great leaders. Indeed, they do. And, while these numbers are encouraging, there is much more work to do. But these numbers are something to build on and a harbinger that things are changing.

The number of new businesses being formed is on the rise. There is something that happens when we are forced to pause in our lives. Our perspective changes. When we are speeding along doing what we do every day it is easy to miss an opportunity that might be in our periphery. If we seem to be doing OK, after all, so why consider any alternatives? But roadblocks can be turning points, and it looks like this has been one for many people. The illusion of safety one feels in a large company disappeared in a hail of furloughs, layoffs and closings. People went home to ponder their future. And apparently for many people launching their own firms is part of that future.

Companies have the opportunity to build back better. If your culture was dysfunctional before the pandemic and before we all adjourned to start Zooming with each other, it most likely won’t be better when you reconvene unless you do something about. Get proactive and get busy. This is a perfect opportunity to rebuild and fix what’s broken. You’re starting from zero. Why not have some big conversations with your people and ask them what kind of changes they would like to see? When you do this, be sure and listen carefully. Let them do the talking. You’ll hear the unvarnished truth about your workplace. The information may sting for a minute, but take copious notes and then act upon what you hear. There’s no better time if you ever plan to build a great organization. Get started.

Relationships have become more precious and important. I have really missed getting together with friends and business associates during this time. We Zoom from time to time, but it’s not the same. For the better part of a year now we have been forced to stay apart from each other, and we are not built to do that. We are wired to congregate and socialize. There’s a different energy present when we sit across the table from each other.

Someday soon we will take our masks off so that we can see each other smile again. And when we do, I hope we will never again take for granted our great families and friends and neighbors. Stepping back into the workplace and greeting our co-workers will certainly be a most welcome day.

May we never take it for granted.

Forbes.com Contributor

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