A Letter From Maui

The beaches are empty. The shops shuttered. There is no rush hour. The golf courses are closed, and the few people here have turned the golf courses into public parks – bikers, joggers, fathers throwing footballs to their young sons, dogs running free. The only people working are security guards, landscapers and tree trimmers. A few restaurants offer take-out, the owners wear gloves and masks. A Hawaiian monk seal swims twenty feet from shore.

The people of Maui, largely dependent on tourism, have willingly paid an exorbitant price to contain the Covid19 virus, and yet there are significant hot spots which worry us. We have been impressed by the selflessness of people – the doctors, nurses, housekeepers; those willingly working at the food bank and delivering meals to the homeless; business owners working so hard to make sure that their employees have enough to meet at least some of their expenses.

We make decisions in our jobs and for our businesses. By definition each decision has uncertainty and requires thought. Well considered decisions based on values and priorities are rarely documented. Often, no one even knows that a decision was made – we don’t pause to consider the difficulty that an unknown person went through to make sure that our health and our interests are protected – we rely on pilots, airline executives, hotel managers, hospital administrators, business owners and, in our case, title searchers. We rely on workers making informed decisions about their own health and in their work attendance so that others are not compromised.

Companies where thoughtful decision making is the rule carry on, seemingly without effort. The employees are confident that they will not be penalized for making decisions to safeguard their co-workers and their companies. The leaders build the culture of the company so that the employees know they are valued, customers understand that the work will be done right even though the supplier sometimes does the work at a loss These companies are the majority of the companies in our society, and they are seldom heard from, they are just there, are relied upon, become the fabric of our business lives. They grow and change and prosper.

Companies where decisions are made by emotion, by competing forces, by attempting to accommodate contrary views rather than important values – those companies get column inches in newspapers, those are the organizations saddled with lawsuits, with poor reputations.

Management matters. Considered and thoughtful leadership matters. Culture and caring matter.

Sometimes it is even a matter of life and death.

With warm regards,

Virendra Nath

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