Anchors in a Storm: The Crisis Test Every Business Leader Should Take

Sep 4, 2023 | Leadership

The Timeless Lesson of “The Anchor Holds”

If you were to journey back 25 years, you’d hear the resonating words of a song that has aged with grace and gained relevance, especially in the turbulent times we find ourselves in—“The Anchor Holds.” The essence of the song can be summed up as follows: “The anchor holds, though the ship is battered. The anchor holds, though the sails are torn.” A compelling narrative that not only appeals to the mariner but also offers invaluable wisdom to business leaders navigating uncertain waters.

Anchors Beyond Nautical Symbols: Business Metaphors That Matter

While I don’t consider myself a maritime expert, the anchor’s significance is not lost on me. In the realm of boating, an anchor keeps the ship secure during storms. In business, anchors are your core principles that hold your company steady amid market volatility, regulatory upheaval, and unforeseen crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Your anchor, in essence, keeps you from making impulsive decisions that could crash your company onto rocky shores.

Corporate Slogans: From Lip Service to Living Truths

Many business leaders, including myself, have wrestled with the tension between corporate jargon and lived reality. Working for a substantial security firm, our principal tagline reads, “Our People Are the Difference.” This core principle, or should I say our ‘business anchor,’ stood the test of time as I witnessed the humane way our company treated its employees during the pandemic crisis. This crisis was more than just a disruptive event; it was a litmus test that proved our core values were not just slogans on a wall. If your anchor stands firm during such a tempest, then it’s safe to say your other core values are likely just as robust.

The Crisis Litmus Test: Revealing True Business Anchors

My point is not to extol the virtues of my organization but rather to emphasize the broader principle: Crises reveal the true anchors of your business. Whether you’re a startup founder, a seasoned CEO, or somewhere in between, take note—your company’s response in a crisis is the most genuine reflection of your business anchors.

Personal Reflections: A Mirror for Business Leaders

In leadership, the magnifying lens of crisis also scrutinizes personal anchors. In my own experience, these times have helped me reflect on my guiding principles, not only identifying those that stood strong but also pointing out areas needing focused attention. It’s an exercise in vulnerability and an opportunity for growth.

Your Turn: A Call to Business Leaders for Self-Reflection

So, how about you? Have recent crises revealed your business anchors? Are they strong enough to withstand the storms, or do they need reevaluation and reinforcement? Now is the time for self-assessment, to re-anchor if needed, ensuring your ship stays the course during the next inevitable storm.
In summary, may we all possess or build anchors sturdy enough to weather the myriad challenges in the business landscape, and may we have the courage to recalibrate them when reality demands it.