Six years since Hurricane Harvey & the leadership lessons are still true.
Let me rewind, Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane that flooded Texas & Louisiana dumping 27 TRILLION gallons of rain in 6 days. It's considered the most damaging storm after Hurricane Katrina. The power of this storm was not the strength of the hurricane (as a life long Houstonian I've seen Cat 5 storms!), but the sitting rain storm over Houston and the surrounding areas for many days with no time for water to drain causing even two story homes to be under water. To put it in perspective see the image below that popped up from my social media that outlines what the storm did to Houston.
The storm brought death, destruction, heartbreak, fear, and so much sadness, however in Houston, it also brought a reminder of the human spirit, community and our innate desire to stand up and help each other no matter our race, color or creed. We were all one family coming together. It was inspirational and even 6 years later I get goose bumps thinking about my city, my home, Houston, coming together and leading to get our city back up and running.
There were clear leaders that came through and they all seemed to deliver on a few key factors -
Care About Your Community - Whether your customers span across the globe or is limited to a small town, companies should demonstrate that they are committed to serving their community both with your product or service and with your heart. Mattress Mac / Gallery Furniture & H-E-B Grocers, two of the largest companies serving the Houston community focused on the community before their business. Gallery Furniture opened their doors for those displaced from their homes and H-E-B showed up in communities with food, water and cleaning supplies to help people simply live. So many other companies supported through donations and outreach and the return on the backend demonstrated it was great business and great human connection. While the return isn't immediate, as Maya Anglou said, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." That alone can provide long term brand loyalty.
Put People Before Business - The best companies put their people first and the business second. When you take care of your people, your people will take care of you. Be genuine and authentic in your care. At the time I was working for The Weir Group and us, as a leadership team, spent the days leading up to, during and after the storm focused on our people, their families, their homes, their lives and NOT about business. By making daily connections with your team will engage them and will give you true loyalty which drives hard work and commitment.
Adaptability & Rapid Response - In business, we can get hyper focused on our long term business strategy and the day to day grind, but building your business with the ability to adapt and pivot quickly will support long term sustainability for those outside forces that are beyond your control - a storm, market shifts, macro-global forces (hello COVID!). A leader once told me, "the market is going to do what the market is going to do, we can only control our response." During Harvey it was those companies that adapted quickly to continue to serve customers.
Harvey is behind us, but the leadership demonstrated during and after the storm continue to be true. Are you ready for the next storm coming your way?
I leave you with some inspiration from the time of people just helping people. A time when our community and the world came together to help people. Isn't that what it's all about?