The Next 69 Days in Corporate America: A Test of Leadership?


A US presidential election cycle is a big deal for everyone, whether you are political or not. At the very least it takes up a lot of mindshare by dominating the news cycle on traditional and social media; and that is a lot! It is hard to get away from it at all. However, as leaders we must keep our organisations laser focused and our people inspired and united, in the next 69 days before the inauguration. The fact is that the people in our organisations, reflect the diversity of views and strongly held beliefs, in the wider society. So, what can we do to navigate the choppy waters of division and discord that can seep into the organisation?

  1. Use the company values to guide internal behaviours. Conversations about the election will naturally take place, whether in virtual meeting rooms or in the office around the watercooler. I would not suggest we sensor such discourse but be cautious about what is tolerated. Emotions can run high when we disagree, however, we must always be respectful of each other. Irrespective of the candidate who one supports, we are all on the same team at work.
  2. Keep the focus on the business objectives. It is easy to take our eyes off the ball when there is so much noise all around. However, we cannot lose sight of what matters in the organisation. What are we striving to achieve for Q4 2020 and beyond? There are no prizes for those who cheer at the Olympics. Focus and measure, we are all on the same team at work.
  3. Reduce slack time as much as possible. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Ensure everyone is fully engaged and occupied in meaningful work activities. It’s a bit hard to focus on more than one priority at the same time. This will certainly reduce the time available for the water cooler type conversations. No amount of logic is likely to win any political arguments. Remember we are on the same team.
  4. Inspire the team to greatness. One of the main tasks of leadership is to get people to rally around a shared vision and be motivated to accomplish audacious goals. Energize teamwork, boost morale, and de-escalate tension and anxiety. When we all put on the same team jersey, we know we are rooting for the same team.    
  5. Test your commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Use this space in time to check if you are walking the DEI talk. At this time we neither have a playbook nor the right answers to so many questions. We can draw on our compassion to see and hear the other person, especially when they look different and hold different views. Inclusion and agility are required to take on the challenges of our times. In the organisation we lose together or win together. We are all on the same team.

Although election outcomes are a big deal, leaders must ensure that during the next 69 days we do not lose ground or take our eyes off the ball, especially during a global pandemic.

Dr. Sandra Palmer

CEO and Senior at Above or Beyond