A beacon in a storm of uncertainty

Organizational values can help leaders navigate times of turbulence.

“Your organization’s values are your organization’s breath,” said Sean R. Martin, associate professor of business administration at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and faculty of the CUES CEO Institute.

Martin kicked off the final general session of Knowledge & Networking November last Thursday with an anecdote about whitewater rafting.

He recalled his first official paid job working for a whitewater rafting company in Flagstaff, Arizona. One guide’s words during a safety lesson with first-time rafters before embarking on a trip through the Grand Canyon has stuck with him over the years:

“What do you think is going to happen when you fall out of the boat?” the guide asked the group. “Because you’re going to fall out of the boat at some point. And it’s going to be at a point that’s kind of scary. People don’t fall out of the boat when there aren’t any rapids. You fall out of the boat when it’s bumpy and when the water is turbulent.”

 

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