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Corporate Search Committees have New Message for Executive Candidates: Ethics and Ethical Leadership Matter


Corporate Search Committees have New Message for Executive Candidates: Ethics and Ethical Leadership Matter

As a firm that puts a professional in a job every three minutes of the workday, Korn Ferry continuously tracks what organizations are looking for in the way of future senior executive leaders.

In addition to helping corporate board search committees find executive leaders, using the criteria specified by the committees, we also spend a great amount of time carefully listening to CHROs and C-suite executives–and learning about the skills and leadership experience that are especially important to them. Our company’s success depends on understanding what businesses truly need to drive performance through their talent and leadership.

As MBA and other business leadership programs across the nation seek to ensure that the next generation of business leaders will fit those requirements, there are three points of guidance we can pass along from corporate search committees and the candidates themselves, as they consider which organizations to join.

A key priority of corporate search committees is to ensure that a candidate’s demonstrated leadership experience includes adherence to the highest ethical standards.

In today’s business environment, ethical leadership is more than a desired quality–it’s a must-have. Search committees expect this to be the case and will often further probe candidates to confirm that their previous leadership roles reflect these high standards.

The top candidates for senior executive positions are asking the same questions: “Has this organization demonstrated a commitment to ethics and ethical leadership? Have they applied the principles of ethical leadership consistently, even during very difficult times?”

The priority given to candidates who have demonstrated ethics and ethical leadership continues to be reinforced, as does the amount of background searches our teams have been asked to provide to ensure evidence of real ethics and ethical leadership.

There are even programs in place today to instill quietly well-regarded principles of ethical leadership in modern MBA curricula, often backed by nonpartisan philanthropic organizations or business programs like the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Etisphere and the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund. That organization annually partners with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to honor a 2023-era CEO who emblemizes tenets such as empathy in the boardroom, business resilience and self-awareness; traits which recent McKinsey surveys dating back pre-pandemic reflect are in short supply.

Yes, unfortunately, there are also some corporate executives of today experiencing severe ethical lapses, causing damage to reputations, reduced business success, and loss of confidence among employees, shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders. The price for failing to practice ethics and ethical leadership can be extremely high–and last a very long time.

Given the guiding priorities of corporate search committees and the candidates themselves, this issue is serious and will be a vital criterion in companies’ assessments of business leaders in the future, as well as in candidates’ consideration of organizations they might join.

We do hope that MBA and business leadership programs take heed to the power and importance of ethics and ethical leadership as they prepare the next generation of business leaders.


servant leadership thought

5 Reasons Why Thought Leadership Helps Your Business Thrive


In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape, standing out from the crowd and establishing a strong brand presence is crucial for long-term success. One effective strategy that has gained significant traction in recent years is thought leadership

Thought leadership goes beyond traditional marketing and advertising techniques, focusing on positioning individuals or organizations as trusted authorities in their respective fields. In this article, we will explore the concept of thought leadership and delve into why it can be a powerful tool to help your business thrive.

  • Building Credibility and Trust

Thought leadership enables you to establish yourself or your business as an industry expert. By consistently sharing valuable insights, expertise, and unique perspectives, you can demonstrate your deep knowledge and understanding of your field. 

This builds credibility and fosters trust among your audience, making them more likely to turn to you for advice, guidance, and solutions to their problems. As trust grows, so does your reputation, making it easier to attract new clients, form partnerships, and gain a competitive edge.

  • Increased Brand Visibility

Thought leadership allows you to showcase your expertise and your brand’s unique value proposition. By consistently producing high-quality content, such as articles, whitepapers, videos, or podcasts, and even using text-to-speech software to make your content more accessible, you can increase your brand’s visibility and reach a wider audience.

Sharing your insights and ideas through various channels, including social media, industry conferences, and online publications, helps you gain exposure and establish your brand as a go-to resource in your industry. This increased visibility can lead to new business opportunities, media coverage, and industry recognition.

  • Driving Business Growth

Thought leadership has a direct impact on business growth. When you position yourself or your business as a thought leader, you become top-of-mind for potential customers, partners, and investors. People are more likely to engage with businesses they perceive as leaders in their field, and thought leadership helps you stay ahead of the competition. By consistently delivering valuable content and insights, you attract and retain customers, drive sales, and foster long-term relationships with clients and stakeholders.

  • Attracting Top Talent

In addition to attracting customers, thought leadership can also help you attract and retain top talent. In today’s job market, talented professionals are looking for more than just a paycheck; they seek opportunities to work with industry leaders and be part of innovative organizations. 

By showcasing your expertise and thought leadership, you can create a compelling employer brand, attracting highly skilled individuals who want to be associated with your business. Thought leadership positions you as a desirable employer, increasing your chances of recruiting the best talent in your industry.

  • Stimulating Innovation and Collaboration

Thought leadership fosters innovation and collaboration within your organization and across your industry. By sharing your ideas, insights, and experiences, you can inspire others to think differently and drive positive change.

Thought leaders often become catalysts for collaboration, bringing together experts, industry influencers, and like-minded individuals to solve complex challenges and explore new opportunities. This collaborative environment can lead to innovative ideas, partnerships, and industry advancements that can benefit your business and the entire industry.


Thought leadership is a powerful strategy that can help your business thrive in today’s competitive landscape. By building credibility and trust, increasing brand visibility, driving business growth, attracting top talent, and stimulating innovation and collaboration, thought leadership allows you to establish your brand as a recognized authority in your industry. 

By consistently providing valuable insights and engaging with your audience, you can position yourself or your business as a trusted resource, gaining a competitive edge and creating long-term success. Embrace thought leadership and unlock its potential to propel your business forward.


Hiring a Reliability Consultant

Hiring a Reliability Consultant: 4 Important Things to Consider

Reliability is a critical factor in the success of any industrial operation. Downtime can negatively affect the productivity and profitability of a company. A reliable industrial operation is one that is able to maintain consistent output, even in the face of unexpected obstacles. 

It is often considered as a key performance indicator (KPI) of an organization’s asset management system. The goal of achieving high industrial reliability is to minimize the risk of equipment failures and unplanned downtime.

There are many factors that contribute to industrial reliability, from the quality of the equipment to the skill of the operators. But one of the most important is maintenance management. However, in this article, we will share some ideas on how you can hire a reliability consultant.

Who Is Reliability Consultant? 

An industrial reliability consultant is a professional who helps organizations improve their operations and processes through the use of reliability engineering principles.

Reliability consultants typically have experience in a wide range of industries and businesses, and they use this knowledge to help their clients identify areas where they can improve their own operations.

Reliability consulting can be an extremely valuable resource for organizations that are looking to improve their overall performance. By working with a consultant, organizations can get an expert opinion on what changes need to be made in order to achieve better results.

In addition, consultants can provide guidance, reliability training and support throughout the implementation process, helping to ensure that the changes are made effectively and efficiently. 

Organizations that are interested in improving their reliability should consider working with an experienced consultant. By doing so, they can gain insights into best practices for reliability improvement and receive support during the implementation process.

In addition, by providing training on new procedures, they can help employees become more efficient and knowledgeable about the production process.

How Reliability Consultants Help in Industrial Maintenance

An industrial reliability consultant can help your business in a number of ways when it comes to industrial maintenance. They can help in industrial maintenance by providing analysis and recommendations to improve equipment reliability.

For one, a consultant can help you develop a maintenance management plan. This plan will take into account all of the factors that contribute to downtime in your facility, including equipment failures, human error, and environmental conditions. By understanding the root cause of these problems, you can develop strategies to prevent them from happening in the first place.

They also develop and implement preventative maintenance programs to improve equipment uptime. In addition, they work with other departments within the company to ensure that maintenance activities are properly coordinated. This may include recommendations for preventive maintenance, which can help avoid costly downtime and repairs.

In addition, a reliability consultant can also help you troubleshoot problems that occur. By identifying issues quickly and efficiently, you can avoid costly downtime and keep your operation running smoothly. 

Finally, a consultant can also provide training for your staff on best practices for maintenance and repair.

What to Consider When You Hire a Reliability Consultant

When you are looking to improve the reliability of your organization, you may consider hiring a reliability consultant. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are making this decision:

1. Coursework and Certifications

When you are thinking about hiring a reliability consultant, there are several things that you should keep in mind. The first is previous coursework and certifications. It is important to make sure that the consultant you are considering has the necessary education and training in the field of reliability engineering. Additionally, they should also have experience working with other businesses in your industry.  This would ensure that they understand your industry-specific needs.

2. Leadership Skills

When it comes to finding and hiring a reliability consultant, it is important to consider leadership skills. Here are a few tips on how to identify and assess leadership skills in a potential consultant:

  • Look for evidence of strong leadership qualities in the consultant’s past work experience. This may include instances of successful project management, team building, or conflict resolution.
  • Ask the consultant for specific examples of instances where they used their leadership skills to achieve success. This will help you get a better sense of their true capabilities.
  • Pay attention to the consultant’s communication style and overall demeanor during your interactions with them. Do they come across as confident and competent? Do they seem able to handle difficult situations calmly and effectively?

By keeping these factors in mind, you can be sure to find a reliability consultant with the strong leadership skills you need for your organization.

3. In-depth Knowledge of Industrial maintenance

You need to make sure the consultant has a deep understanding of industrial maintenance when hiring one. This includes a thorough plant management expertise that would promote overall reliability.  The consultant should also be up-to-date on the latest industry standards and practices.

Another important thing to consider is the consultant’s ability to communicate effectively with both management and frontline workers. The consultant should be able to explain complex technical concepts in plain language. They should also be able to listen to feedback and incorporate it into their recommendations.

4. Tech-Savvy Aptitudes

In the 21st century, a reliability consultant should have technology skills and knowledge to help your business stay ahead of the curve. Here are three tips on how to hire a reliability consultant with tech-savvy aptitudes:

  • Look for a consultant who is up-to-date on technology trends: A reliable consultant should be able to keep up with the latest technology advancements and understand how they can be applied to your business.
  • Choose a consultant who has experience implementing new technologies: A good way to gauge a potential consultant’s tech-savvy abilities is by asking about past projects where they’ve successfully implemented new technologies.
  • Ask for recommendations from other businesses in your industry: If you know other businesses that have hired reliability consultants, ask them for recommendations on who you should contact.


When considering hiring a reliability consultant, it is important to keep in mind the company’s needs and objectives, the consultant’s qualifications and experience, and the cost. With careful consideration, hiring a reliability consultant can be a valuable investment for any business. They can help take your business from where it is to what it can be and help cut down costs, prioritize your goals, streamline operations.

graduate carport ASCM x

How Can Company Leaders Develop New Ones? Tips They Can Give Recent Grads

Company leaders who are welcoming recent college graduates to their organization see themselves in the young faces walking in the door. Like these new graduates, C-suite executives and department managers once made the challenging transition to the corporate world, taking their first professional job with a combination of optimism, excitement and nervousness.

When they were much younger, some of today’s leaders had the good fortune of being mentored or at least encouraged by higher-ups. Others weren’t so fortunate and felt like they had to go it alone. Perhaps their bosses were too busy.

Whatever the case, those at the forefront of companies today have a great opportunity. As much as business leaders have on their to-do list, they need to make time for new members of their team in order to help them grow and, by extension, positively influence their company’s future. Investing time to nurture, encourage and boost the confidence of these new graduates entering the workforce is one of the most impactful tasks leaders can undertake.

Many of these graduates aspire to become corporate leaders, and in reality I believe an enormous set of obstacles they’ve recently overcome has given them a running start on that career path. These young professionals already are leaders.

How’s that?

The class of 2022, like the classes of 2020 and 2021, endured a trying experience that prior classes did not have to deal with – the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying on track to graduate required management skills, discipline, great effort and resolve – all qualities that leaders of successful companies must have to compete and succeed.

Now these talented and bright-eyed graduates are looking up to seasoned leaders to help show them the way – to make them better leaders than they already are, and to position them to lead companies in various capacities one day in an ever-changing fast-paced market. Here are some things company leadership groups should do to lift, educate and inspire recent graduates and smooth their transition to the corporate world.

  • Emphasize resilience. The pandemic experience they went through in college helps in this context. Adversity comes at us in many ways professionally and personally, and the sooner one learns to deal with it and develop a resilient toughness, the better chance they will survive and grow in the company. It’s easy for a young person trying to find their way in the corporate setting to get derailed when things don’t go their way.


  • Focus on adaptability. In today’s rapidly-changing business world, adaptability is a must. Leaders should talk to their recent graduates about developing a constant-growth mindset, always keeping an eye on how to use skills in another context. Encourage them to be open-minded about their future; the position they seek three years from now may be eliminated, and where they end up may be a much better position than the one they originally had in mind. Ingrain in them the ability to recognize that all challenges in terms of changing or expanding roles are opportunities for learning and growth.


  • Tell them it’s all about communication. Everyone looks to the leader. A leader knows that everything they say, and how they say it, is important. That’s great insight to give a young person as they’re just starting to communicate with people at various levels of the organization. And it’s not only one’s voice, but their body language and non-verbal cues that send a message. It’s essential to have good awareness about the signals you are giving out. A genuine smile, making good eye contact, and speaking in an unhurried manner can build confidence.


  • Make it more about relationships than about money. Many of us want to get big raises and/or climb the corporate ladder. But too often young people just starting out equate corporate leadership with dollar signs, and there’s so much more to it than that. Leaders can teach them early how to build relationships – both inside the company and with clients – and how that is the most important and satisfying part of a successful leader’s journey. To be good at your job, and to one day be a great leader, a positive attitude is instrumental, and the respect of people is central to being passionate about your company.


  • Show them how to bring value. Taking the relationships point a step further, leaders should stress to young grads that bringing value to others means making it more about the people you are helping, and less about you. Focus on how the company’s mission can positively impact others before you think of how it can advance your career. That kind of prioritized thinking – putting one’s heart in the right place – can reduce insecurities and pressure.

These new graduates have amazing opportunities ahead of them, and leaders – perhaps remembering people who made a difference in their own lives long ago – have a tremendous opportunity to help these wide-eyed young folks make a strong transition, and launch them toward their potential.

About Barbara Bell

Barbara Bell (, author of  Flight Lessons: Navigating Through Life’s Turbulence and Learning to Fly High, was one of the first women to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Now she works to empower the next generation of female leaders. In 1992, Bell and fellow aviators went to Capitol Hill to help successfully repeal the combat exclusions laws, opening up combat aircraft and ships to women in the military. Bell holds a B.S. in systems engineering from the United States Naval Academy, an M.S. in astronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, an M.A. in theology from Marylhurst University and a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University. Currently she is an adjunct professor of leadership at Vanderbilt, where she is developing the next generation of leaders for our world.


Covid-19 and the Future of Cultural Changes

Success in the post-COVID world can be more effective when executives manifest themselves as change agents who reshape, and in some cases, manipulate corporate culture to better apply knowledge and create competitive advantage.

Building on the three aspects of corporate culture (collaboration, trust, and learning), companies can attempt to continuously innovate and create new and valuable services or products by applying new ideas and knowledge. This article is set in place to inspire executives to create effective cultural changes in order to meet and exceed the challenges of not only today but also what we see as the onset of new advances in the future. The practices mentioned in this article can represent a complete answer to the need for cultural changes in today’s global market environment.

What Corporate Culture Is

Corporate culture is reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values, and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them. Executives today are focusing on company culture. They can build an effective corporate culture to improve customer satisfaction through acquiring additional knowledge from customers, developing better relationships with them, and providing a higher quality of service for them. Company performance is determined through various aspects, such as customer satisfaction. And executives can positively affect company performance through increased customer satisfaction. Company performance is what every executive is concerned about. Thus, there is a global need to cultivate a strong corporate culture to accomplish sustainable competitiveness in global markets. This strong corporate culture includes the three aspects of collaboration, trust, and learning.

How Corporate Culture Works

These three cultural aspects play a critical role in improving innovation and enhancing the effectiveness of organizational knowledge management. For example, collaboration provides a shared understanding of the current issues and problems among employees, which helps to generate new ideas within organizations. Trust towards their leader’s decisions is also a necessary precursor to create new knowledge and improve company performance through increased quality of products and services. Moreover, the amount of time spent learning is positively related to the amount of knowledge gained, shared, and implemented, aiming at breaking through performance gaps in corporations.

Executives are highly involved in cultural change initiatives and, in particular, by creating more effective workplaces, developing people, and shifting organizations toward the creation of new services and products. Knowledge, in itself, is a by-product of culture, and culture’s role in guiding and facilitating people’s actions is the key to executive decision-making. Through an effective company culture, executives can contribute to new products and services to meet dynamic market needs, through higher expectations and stimulation for new and strategic opportunities to meet the expectations of strategic goals and the needs of customers in the marketplace. Executives can build this such company culture to serve the customer needs and become more profitable.

By influencing behavior and providing valuable resources, executives can change the culture of an organization. This new focus helps the organization develop a unique culture that is hard for the competition to duplicate. Executives can act as change agents who provide a more humanistic and applicable approach to create a great company culture. For example, executives can facilitate collaboration by developing relationships in organizations. An executive can contribute to the cultural aspect of trust by considering both employee’s individual interests and the company’s essential needs. Executives can also identify the individual needs of employees and develop a learning culture to generate new knowledge and share it with others. The next section particularly presents a set of actions that can be taken by executives to build an effective corporate culture within corporations.

How to Do It Right

Building a True Collaboration Culture

To build a collaboration culture, executives need to improve the degree to which employees actively support and provide significant contributions to each other in their work. In doing this, executives can take the following actions:

-Develop a collaborative work climate in which employees are satisfied by the degree of collaboration between departments

-Develop a collaborative work climate in which employees are supportive.

-Employees are helpful.

-Develop a collaborative work climate in which there is a willingness to accept responsibility for failure.

Creating a No-Fail Trust Culture

To create a trust culture, executives need to maintain the volume of reciprocal faith in terms of behaviors and intentions. In doing this, executives can take the following actions:

-Build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which employees are generally trustworthy.

-Build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which employees have reciprocal faith in other members’ intentions and behaviors.

-Build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which employees have reciprocal faith in others’ ability.

-Build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which employees have reciprocal faith in others’ behaviors to work toward organizational goals.

-Build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which employees have reciprocal faith in others’ decision towards organizational interests than individual interests.

-Build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which employees have relationships based on reciprocal faith.

Cultivating a Successful Learning Culture

To foster a learning culture, executives need to enhance the extent to which learning is motivated within the workplace. In doing this, executives can take the following actions:

-Develop a learning workplace in which various formal training programs are provided to improve the performance of duties.

-Develop a learning workplace in which opportunities are provided for informal individual development other than formal training such as work assignments and job rotation.

-Develop a learning workplace in which there is an encouragement to attend external seminars, symposia, etc.

-Develop a learning workplace in which various social mechanisms such as clubs and community gatherings are provided.

-Develop a learning workplace in which employees are satisfied by the contents of job training or self-development programs.

In Conclusion

Now that we have identified that company culture has risen to a phenomenon that is worth understanding, learning, and using in organizations around the world.  This introduces a new and dynamic perspective of organizational culture and suggests that corporate culture constitutes the foundation of a supportive workplace to improve knowledge management performance. I indicate that corporate culture is a major internal resource for knowledge management success. Without a grasp on these two tenets executives are bound to fail in the post-COVID world.

mergers and acquisitions

Supporting Mergers and Acquisitions in the Pharmaceutical/Biopharmaceutical Industry

In recent years, we have seen Pharmaceutical company megadeals that saw Takeda acquiring Shire for a total value of $81.7 billion, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s acquisition of Celgene for $74 billion, AbbVie’s $63 billion acquisition of Allergan and the proposed acquisition of Alexion by AstraZeneca for $39 billion. All of these acquisitions continue to have a lasting impact on the leadership and staff at these companies which collectively employ hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide. In addition, there have been a plethora of product transfers between organizations with larger multi-national companies pruning portfolios, adding gene therapy and biotechnology divisions, and consolidating core assets.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in the Pharmaceutical/Biopharmaceutical industry are critical for organizations to implement strategic changes to their business. Whether it be to (a) future proof an organization’s pipeline by accessing innovation, (b) obtain additional manufacturing capacity or (c) to divest non-core assets (products, facilities, etc.), companies continue to grow, modernize and evolve to meet the targets set out in their strategic plans.

When two or more organizations reach the ‘deal’ and it is announced that ‘A’ will take over ‘B’ or that A and B will share in ‘A-B’, or indeed that ‘A’ will sell part of their organization to ‘B’, it is frequently followed by uncertainty and apprehension among internal stakeholders. This changing landscape tests an organization’s ability to communicate the distinct ‘win-win’ elements of the deal. The Kübler-Ross change curve (see fig.1 below) is always worth having in mind during this transitional period of M&A and never fails in tracking the internal stakeholder mindset, albeit with differing levels of severity.

Figure 1. Kübler-Ross Change Curve

The transition from pre-M&A to the post-M&A reality can be both fast and slow. The physical symbols of such transitions such as the company name, logo, and headed paper can be changed in a matter of minutes but the hearts and minds of management and employees can lag significantly further behind. It can take years before a post-M&A steady state is reached (sometimes never!) where full commitment to the change is obtained and all the anticipated ‘win-wins’ are realized.

Some acquired organizations are left to their own devices (pardon the pun medtech sector!) and they are run as true satellites whose contact with the corporate office is limited to communicating the positive financial results. In this scenario, the management team in-situ at the time of the M&A event are trusted to continue as-is and maintain the upward trajectory. Alternatively, and more commonly where there is a dominant merging partner, a strict cut-over timeline is applied for an acquired entity to morph into a fully incorporated affiliate. Typically, these sites implement corporate structures, policies and systems swiftly and assertively.

Where M&A becomes can be interesting is the cultural piece; everyone who has worked in an organization through a merger or acquisition knows that there can be a seismic shift in the objectives of the new organization… not so much what the objectives are but, how the objectives are expected to be met. Post M&A, organizations frequently change structure with new reporting lines, new titles, merged departments, increased/reduced layers of management with revised spans of control. Systems of work can also change where new policies are cascaded into procedures that are followed with varying degrees of success. Supporting systems, software tools and information flows are further material changes that tend to require extensive training and oversight in the early periods post-M&A.

When cultures collide in merging organizations, it has serious ramifications for business and its stakeholders. The industry is littered with mergers and takeovers that did not meet expectations simply because the cultural differences were too difficult to overcome. Naturally, organizations do not admit to failed mergers or acquisitions too often but some of the more interesting ones are referenced below.1 Very often the differences in personal and collective discipline, personified in the leadership differences in the two organizations, is challenging for the organizations to reconcile. Where rigid, structured and conservative management methods meet innovative and unorthodox management can be a recipe for M&A difficulties.2

At PharmaLex, we believe we have a unique understanding of the cultural challenges experienced during Mergers and  Acquisitions. Having merged ourselves in 2017 into PharmaLex, we have insight in how to overcome the challenges of maintaining agility while benefitting from working in a bigger corporate environment, having economies of scale with an increased resource pool. In addition, we have supported numerous Quality and Regulatory functions through these challenging periods through Gap Assessments, Benchmarking Studies, Cultural Assessments, Staff Augmentation, Organisational Optimisation and Leadership Coaching and Mentoring. If you would like our team to assist you or your organization with some of the challenges of changing culture, please connect with us to discuss on +353 1 846 4742 or




Crisis Management: How Business Leaders Lead During COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed, at least temporarily, the world of work for many people as employees hunkered down at home instead of commuting to an office.

As a result, a lot of businesses are finding out just how strong their corporate culture is and how resourceful their employees are when managers aren’t hovering nearby, says Shawn Burcham (, author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, and founder and CEO of PFSbrands, the parent company of Champs Chicken, Cooper’s Express and BluTaco.

“One thing my company has always done that I believe is beneficial in times like these is to help employees develop an ownership mentality,” Burcham says. “Ownership thinking means taking accountability for the quality and success of your work, and it comes from actively encouraging a culture that promotes trust, communication, objectivity, and gives employees a stake in the outcome.”

By necessity, many companies are now communicating by phone or video chats, which means having employees who take responsibility for their actions is more important than ever. Yet at the same time, the business’s leaders still have decisions to make and orders to give to those employees.

That means, Burcham says, that it’s also more important than ever for a company’s leadership – and everyone who reports to them – to band together as one strong team.

“Fortunately, many of the things that make for a good leadership team in the best of times are the same ones that help the company successfully maneuver through more challenging times,” he says.

Some of those include:

Promote transparency. Mistakes happen when people don’t have the information they need to do their jobs. When something affects others in the organization, Burcham says, make sure you put it on the “team table” so that everyone can understand what is happening and provide input.

Don’t undercut others to make yourself look good. Disagreements can happen anytime people gather to discuss problems and solutions, but it’s important to keep things civil. “Attack the issues, not the person,” Burcham says. “Work through appropriate channels and be conscious of what your fellow leaders are trying to accomplish.”

Make sure meetings are well organized. Everyone has endured meetings that took too long and got off track. Burcham certainly has and at one time he would have labeled himself anti-meeting. “I felt that meetings were a waste of time. because most of the meetings I’d been in were a waste of time,” he says. Eventually, Burcham grudgingly accepted that some meetings are necessary, but he says it’s important that they have an agenda, a start and end time, no sidebar conversation, and that next steps and accountabilities are created at the meeting’s close.

Accept that a decision is a decision. It’s all right for people to debate and offer differing opinions during the decision-making process, but once a decision is made everyone needs to support it, Burcham says. “You don’t want situations where people continually reopen discussions about decisions that have already been made,” he says. “And passive disagreement is not an option.”

Know that calm is contagious – relax, look around, make a call. Several years ago Burcham adopted this mentality and worked to make it part of his personal mission statement. When faced with situations or conversations that may not be going his way, he mentally takes his brain to this personal mission statement. Burcham says, “I’m naturally a very impatient person and always will be. My personal mission statement has helped me to better control my emotions and it’s been a critical model as all of our companies work to navigate through these challenging times.”

“In the best of times, successful company growth is dependent on the capabilities of its leaders,” Burcham says. “As times grow difficult, how well the business fares also comes down to how well those leaders are able to rise to the occasion.”


Shawn Burcham (, author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.