The Secrets to Rising & Reaping During Unprecedented Times

Very few businesses will be coming out of this pandemic unscathed. Our economy is being crushed and teams are being decimated. The emotional toll, at least in our lifetime, is unprecedented. And yet, we must carry on.


While we are still in response mode to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential we begin our recovery strategy. Yes, there are many, many unknowns. We don’t know how long this will last or to what depth the economic and emotional impact will go. Nonetheless, we must begin now. It’s time to invest.


“How so?” you ask.

Simple. Invest in your people.

This is the time to build a team who will help you rise from the ashes.


The Phoenix

According to legend, the phoenix burns itself up in a show of fiery combustion; only to be reborn from its own ashes. While going up (or down) in flames is not the typical analogy a business or leader wants to associate with, the symbology of being able to start over is incredibly relevant. Equally important, and what we often overlook with the phoenix, is that it stokes the fire before its (temporary) demise.

Odds are, your business is getting torched during this crisis.

That sucks. It really sucks.

The environmental and epidemiological factors at play are not within your control.

Not having control sucks. It really sucks.

Marinate in that suck for a moment...and now, get over it.

Staying stuck in suck is not going to revive your business. It’s not going to put food on the table. It’s not going to move you toward those dreams.

It’s time to take action.

It’s time to leverage the power of the people you have on your team.

Leadership, now more than ever, is essential. And how you lead, is well within your control. By stoking the fire of your team right now, you can ensure that when your business and brand are rising from the ashes, you’ll have a team eager to help fan the flames of resurrection. 


The Scythe

Besides a pretty great Scrabble word, the scythe has been used to mow and reap for thousands of years (so no, there’s not going to be a Grim Reaper reference :).

While combines, mowers, and weed whackers are now our go-tos, the scythe still holds a special place in the hearts of many farmers. You see, scything is an art. It allows the user to connect with the crop and gracefully take care of business.    

Connection and grace.

Not the first two words most businesses and leaders think of for their recovery strategy.

Bear with me.

Scything is high-touch and low-tech. It’s thoughtful and methodical. We are all having to make cuts: socially, financially, personally, professionally.

When we cut with the scythe, we stay connected. We feel the weight of the tool and the impact of the blade.

As a leader, you have many difficult decisions ahead. Plowing through them with diesel-powered enthusiasm will wreak havoc on your team.

Use the scythe. The hard work is high yield.

Your team understands that cuts will need to be made. How you make those cuts will determine if you’ll have a team when it’s time to harvest again.  

Resurrect & Reap

The five pillars of the High Performance Team Effect are well-aligned to help businesses and leaders strengthen, rather than sever, the bonds with their teams during this crisis.

By leveraging the power of people and purpose you will build loyalty that a pandemic can’t touch.



Leaders who are transparent and let their team members in on the operational and financial struggles will win. Open your heart, open your books, and open the possibilities that someone on your team may have an idea or perspective which may provide the fuel needed to move from combustion to resurrection. 



Now, more than ever, your team needs you. There are many distractions and many diversions - don’t let them allow you to drift apart.

Know what your team needs.

Know their struggles.

Know their fears.

While great leaders don’t solve all the problems, great leaders show they care. Contrary to the survival response of most leaders during incendiary times (pulling in and cutting others off), high-performance leaders will reach out and lean into the individual purpose of the team whom they serve.

Empathy, sincerity, and connection will stoke a fire in your team that will not be extinguished.



If you’re sure you’re communicating with your team enough, you’re wrong. This is the time to step up your game. Emails and memos are great (actually, they’re not - they’re necessary and helpful, not great). When we rely on machines to carry out our work, to convey our meaning, we lose touch with the message.

You see, the power tools in business are just like the power tools on the farm. They bring with them a lot of noise. And while the outcome may look the same, they are indeed different.

Your team needs to hear your voice and see your face (properly distanced, of course – phone and zoom calls until we collocate once again!). They need you to listen.

They need you to scythe. Scything is the Zen of farm work. Along with the gentle swishing of the scythe, the farmer hears the wind blowing, the birds chirping, the cows mooing, their heart pounding, and their own heavy breathing.

They are aware if the blade needs sharpening and if their angle or approach needs adjusting.

They are aware.

They are present.

Give your people your full attention and they will give you their loyalty.



This is the time to lead your team not get rid of them. The reflexive business action during a crisis is to slash expenses - the largest, of course, being staff.

Great businesses and great leaders will strengthen their resolve by going through a crisis together.

As Herb Kelleher did with Southwest Airlines during the previous economic crash, demonstrating your willingness to “share the pain” equally across your team for the short-term will create a dedicated, hard-working team for the ages. Inevitably, there will be layoffs and furloughs.

If you are a leader who has to make cuts, scythe. Be thoughtful and methodical. Use equal, mindful strokes and you will sow the seeds for a greater harvest. 



To paraphrase Virginia Satir, the misery of uncertainty is far greater than the certainty of misery. Our world is a volatile, uncertain place right now.

Your team needs you.

Lead them now.

Lead them well.

Lead them consistently through this crisis and you will build a team who will go to the ends of the earth for you. 


We will rise again. We will reap again. But we must lead now.

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