In this time of bombastic, hubris-filled leadership, I was impressed by a powerful demonstration of personal values as a foundation for an important leadership moment last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate. At the end of the impeachment trial, Senator Mitt Romney, (Rep. Utah) spoke powerfully in the senate chamber about his personal vote and how his personal convictions lead him to that decision. Please note that I have never voted for Senator Romney, and historically felt that I was on the “other side” of the political landscape from his views. With that said, I found his words and actions extremely poignant, courageous and inspiring to me as a U.S. citizen and as a business leader. The following are few excerpts from his comments that really hit home to me personally:
There are a number of points here that I want to highlight, again as a citizen and as a leader:
> Take the assignment seriously: Sen. Romney realized the assignment to be “Senator-Juror” was “enormously consequential” and he didn’t shrink form the task! He knew the stakes were immense and with that foreknowledge he proceeded with the work with clarity and rigour.
> We must stay true to our own beliefs: when he commented that by taking a simple partisan approach to the final vote would “expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience,” he eloquently challenged all of us to a moment of self reflection and critique. Too often the “popular” idea, or the “expedient approach” rules the day, rather than us as leaders staying true to what we BELIEVE and KNOW is right! In business as in politics, too often the drive to short term profitability or the need to satisfy influential investors at the next board meeting eclipse the path that is know to be right in the long term.
> Don’t let the consequences sway you from doing what is right: Today with a week of outburst/threats/angry tweets and aggressive retaliation, Sen. Romney seems understated when he said that he knew that he would “strenuous disapproval” from those from his party and his state, and that he would hear “abuse” form the President and his supporters. He knew the path was going to be ugly, and yet he stayed true to his beliefs and convictions…. a powerful role model!
> Keep your legacy in mind: He knew his vote wasn’t going to be the deciding vote in the process, and yet he kept his vision on the long-term perspective… his legacy. he is confident that when he will “tell my children and their children that I did my duty,” he wasn’t focused on the headlines of this week or next, but on the long view of legacy and family.
I deeply believe that powerful leaders are ones whose actions and words are highly aligned , and individuals who consider their impact on business or in politics with a long term/ legacy oriented world view. I for one an deeply appreciative of Sen. Romney’s courage and his words/actions related to the impeachment process. As a leader or a wonderful company, I am using this moment to refresh myself on the long view, keeping my “legacy viewpoint” in clear sight and will come back to Senator Romney’s speech often for inspiration in the days ahead … I hope that you do the same!
As we turn toward the Christmas holiday break, with so much to be thankful for and to appreciate in our lives, I want to take a moment today to reflect on a theme/idea that I have been focused on this week… the concept of “Steadfastness.”
Steadfastness; noun, the quality of being resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.
In some ways it is such an old fashioned word, not used in everyday conversation often, but one that is really ringing true to me as 2019 comes to a close. This idea of being “unwavering” in times of challenge, “resolute” in times of uncertainty and “dutifully firm” when others might waver is an important ideal for leaders across the board.
Earlier this week, on my weekly call with my key leaders, I shared this word and concept as a key reminder for my team as we close out 2019 and pivot into 2020. Just a short six months ago we closed on the purchase of Bolthouse Farms and what a six months it has been! New teams being formed, a big business being stabilized, massive innovation being developed and launched into the market ( shipping to stores near you in early 2020, ha!!) , operating processes being re-qualified, and the list goes on! There is so much to be proud of and so much to do… six months in lets us see our progress and at the same time clarifies the amount of work that still its ahead. It is that clarity that can seem daunting at times and what has triggered me to think about this concept of “steadfastness,” and to encourage my team to be “unwavering on the path ahead.
In our business, being a large fresh produce company who plants and harvests carrots literally 364 days a year, this time of year can be challenging. The demand is high for carts during the holiday window November through January and the weather can be tough. This year is no exception, with a rainy streak happening in our key growing regions that makes the harvesting process challenging. Our Ag team is doing heroic work, and we are serving our customers very well right now but every weather forecast update is a bit nerve racking, making it hard to stay “steadfast” in the face of forecasted weather events. It is in this context that I share the photo above, sunrise over the Tehachapi pass in California.
I took this picture Wednesday morning from the parking lot at Bolthouse Farms in Bakersfield , looking east into the mountains. As you can see , the sunrise was incredible that morning and while certainly pretty, it actually filled me with a sense of calm and confidence on the challenges that are ahead. That sunrise reminded me ( physically and metaphorically) that beautiful dawns do come after dark and rainy nights, that the light of a new day brings possibilities and creative ideas, and that the light of that sky could help inspire me to be “unwavering” and “steadfast” as we find our way through whatever challenges that lie ahead! I hope you can find a “sunrise” in your world over the next few weeks so that your path can be “steadfast” and “unwavering” in the face of whatever challenges that lie ahead!
postscript, “Steadfastness” for the holidays: I just wanted to add that I am encouraging my team, and I hope you do the same, to have a great and restive holiday with with families and friends as much as possible. This is an important restorative time to be with your loved ones, to “recharge” physically and emotionally and to rebuild your personal “steadfastness batteries” so you can be fresh and ready for the the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in 2020!!