Feedback: December 2020

by Sandra Bassett, Diane Day, Scott Roelofs 

Question: Given the events of this past year, what would you say are the most important leadership attributes (skills, experience, philosophy) for growing and strengthening your company?

Sandra Bassett

President and CEO
West Valley Arts
Sector: Arts & Culture

When I became West Valley Arts president and CEO in April, COVID was just rearing its ugly head. Soon after, all of our planned events were canceled, causing significant revenue losses and severely impacting our ability serve the community. Responding to this unprecedented challenge required flexibility, strategic application of collective skills and experience, and being able to quickly pivot into a new paradigm. 

We cannot become complacent or rely on what has always been. We must be adaptable and find new ways to engage and grow. Most of all, we must not be afraid to fail. We must ask questions, share information, seek new partnerships and ask for support. It is OK to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out.” 

Being skilled in many areas does not always translate to success. How you work with others and bring them along in your organization does. True leadership is Increasing your team’s capabilities and skills to create tangible organizational growth. True leadership is letting your team know it’s OK to make mistakes because when mistakes happen, the greatest change can occur.  

Sandra Bassett has extensive experience in cultural program implementation, finance management and revenue growth. She holds an M.B.A. from Walden University and a bachelor’s in Business Management from Kentucky State University. Bassett served in executive and managerial positions for brands that include Dr. Pepper Snapple Group; Hostess Brand, Inc.; and Mars Inc. She is also an educator, trainer, motivational speaker and international vocalist. 

Diane Day 

Senior Vice President/Operations Manager
Fidelity National Title Agency
Sector: Financial

In times like this, when our leadership choices are so impactful, people need to know that leaders know what they are doing. Clear, concise, compassionate and timely communication is a necessity. Upon the realization of the severity of the pandemic, our company immediately initiated on our Business Continuity Plan to safely and transparently communicate our strategy to enable our team to continue the course of our business model effectively. This was done by daily conference calls with our managers and teams, which eventually became weekly calls. We embraced and utilized technology such as Microsoft TEAMS and ZOOM to bring together our employees and customers virtually. The management of remote users has become a new learning process for us as leaders. 

As leaders, we have learned to pivot quickly to respond to changing times. This year, although challenging in many ways, has caused us all to become better. We will continue to inspire collaboration, common purpose and future possibilities in our company by leading by example, communicating and responding quickly. Our employees are the future success of our company, and our investment and time with them is our No. 1 priority.  

Diane Day is SVP/operations manager for Fidelity National Title Agency. A veteran of 34 years, she manages with passion and enthusiasm. Her duties include overseeing production, sales, recruiting, financial management and customer engagement. Day earned a Bachelor of Arts in business from University of Arizona.

Scott Roelofs 

RCG Valuation & Monetization
Sector: Real Estate

Leadership was led by empathy in 2020. Anyone who managed a team or oversaw the livelihood of others in 2020 was met with incredible challenges. To start the year, most businesses were experiencing either record years or at least strong growth potential, but then COVID-19 hit. The speed that businesses had to come to grips with their new reality was mind-blowing. Leaders had to show that they understood the problem and could put themselves in the shoes of their employees. Many leaders were at risk of losing their clients, employees, health or all of the above. 

Employees also had a growing list of concerns on their minds and it became very difficult to keep them on track. If someone is worried about losing their house, their children or their lives, nothing else matters. Those concerns must be addressed before moving on to their new remote work responsibilities. 

Unfortunately, empathy in leadership sometimes includes laying people off. This may sound harsh, but when the survival of the business and livelihood of all other employees is at stake, tough decisions must be made.  

Scott Roelofs is the owner of RCG Valuation & Monetization. Based in Scottsdale, RCG Valuation & Monetization helps small to medium-sized businesses grow and monetize through advanced financial analysis and specialty tax planning, such as cost segregation, R&D tax credits and more. 

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