3 Actions Business Leaders Should Take to Guide Their Organizations Through Uncertainty with Horst Schulze

Today’s podcast is a little different. I’m replaying a Daily Dose of Optimism that I recorded with Horst Schulze on my LinkedIn Live. Every week, I’m sharing a Daily Dose of Optimism on the blog, and I will continue to record live interviews with exceptional leaders on my LinkedIn. So be sure to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn for resources to help guide you as we face this pandemic together!

Today’s show is about optimism. It’s about hope. And it’s about the joy that we can rise and make our way through this time in our life, through great leadership, through taking care of employees, and through sustaining how we will and will not behave at this time. I’m so pleased to share this conversation that I had with Horst Schulze, Founder, Chairman & CEO of the Capella Hotel Group, and Co-founder & Former COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and author of Excellence Wins.

Horst and I discuss the steps leaders can take during this pandemic to help ensure that their businesses survive. We also explore the ways these actions can spread optimism and hope throughout their organization while retaining employees and showcasing humanity. This is a great conversation with some extremely timely advice you can use to help you navigate as a leader who moves with purpose.

If you’re interested in hearing more from Horst, check out this interview I did with him on the podcast last year: 3 Keys to Creating Excellence in Your Customer and Employee Experience with Horst Schulze.

Watch the LinkedIn Live Conversation with Horst:

Maintain Your Vision and Communicate with Employees, Customers, and Stakeholders

Horst clearly states that when it comes to running your business during these uncertain times, you’ll need to remember to let the vision and the objective of your company continue to guide you. As a leader, your strategies may change, but they should always lead back to your main vision.

“When I started Ritz-Carlton, your whole objective was the vision. The purpose of the organization was to become the finest service organization in the world. Now, that destination doesn’t change my employees; this doesn’t change. We still have to make decisions that lead us to that particular point. […] That vision should never change. Strategy changes because of the situation. And systems change. Processes change, people change, but the future, the dream doesn’t change. And right now it’s very important to tell people we’re still part of something you’re still belonging,” says Horst.

Throughout our conversation, Horst stresses that all decisions have to be made around the notion that the organization has to survive. Without the organization, you can’t do anything for society or your own employees.

All decisions have to be made around the notion that the organization has to survive. Without the organization, you can’t do anything for society or your own employees. — @horstschulze #leadership #business Share on X

Ensure That Your Business Can Stay Afloat and Serve Customers

For the business owners wondering how they can keep their customers once this pandemic is over, Horst suggests that the needs of the business have to come first. As leaders, you need to thank your customers and employees for the ways they’ve contributed to your success. Horst suggests that you consider doing something you haven’t done before.

“Make sure you’re reaching out to the people who are your partners, and who will also rely on you staying alive and being profitable. Make sure that you tell them you’re thinking of them. You know what they need, and that you’re in their corner now. That there’s something for them that sticks them to you.” says Horst.

Horst also recommends thinking through your employee strategy. Perhaps you keep the top 10% of your employees and eliminate the bottom 30%. “The company comes first now,” says Horst, “And once you operate again, they’re all equal. Customers, society, employees, and investors. But right now, the company is first.” He stresses the fact that without the company surviving, you won’t have anything for the employees, customers, and stakeholders.

Make Tough Decisions While Thinking Through the Companies Objectives

As Horst says, we are now in times where many are being faced with extreme problems, which calls for extreme decision making. Your decisions will need to come from your heart as you rethink your strategies. “You have to sit down and agonize,” says Horst. “You will have to think through the ways you can serve your past, present, and future customers.”

This is a tough decision especially for those whose business relies on large gatherings of people. Horst reminds us that you need to start coming up with solutions to leverage now because it will be a while before people start to feel safe in large gatherings again.

“It’s not a simple, fast decision. And it’s not your decision only, as a leader. You have to involve people in it so that you find the best answer,” Horst says. He reminds us that this is only a setback, and we have to continue to work towards the destination — serving the objectives of your company.

I loved Horst’s breakdown of the following: “A manager thinks, ‘How does the company work?’ And a leader thinks, ‘Am I serving all concerned?’” As good leaders, you must ensure that the employees are doing what the customer wants, and to also create the environment in which employees want to do it.

A manager thinks, ‘How does the company work?’ And a leader thinks, ‘Am I serving all concerned?’ -- @horstschulze, author and founder of @RitzCarlton #leadership Share on X

Lastly, here’s another great takeaway from Horst during this interview, and again, it’s the importance of making sure you’re not the only one who knows why you’re making the decisions that you’re making. Be sure to communicate with your employees regarding WHAT you’re doing and WHY.

Thanks to Horst for reminding us to give people hope when you can and to continue communicating along the way that you’ve acted out of your good conscience. And of course, remind yourself that you go to work to create excellence!

About Horst Schulze

Horst Schulze is Founder, Chairman & CEO of the Capella Hotel Group, and Co-founder & Former COO of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.  Schulze is a legendary leader and global titan of business.  His visionary and disruptive principles have reshaped the concepts of excellence, service, and competitive advantage, transcending divisions of industries across the business landscape.

Upon co-founding the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. in 1983, Schulze singlehandedly set the business operation and service standards that made the Ritz-Carlton brand globally elite and world-famous.  Under Schulze’s prodigious leadership, The Ritz-Carlton, a multi-billion dollar international enterprise, was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award twice—an unprecedented achievement, as The Ritz-Carlton remains the only hotel company to ever receive the prestigious award.

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