Leadership During Hardship
During a crisis, strong, consistent leadership is more important than ever.
As of March 2020, the PSA Network was in the final phases of finding my replacement as CEO. I had decided in 2019 that it was time to retire from my post with the organization. The board of directors understood, and we hired a c-level recruiting firm, Kingsley Gate, to find the next CEO of PSA.
My decision to leave in 2020 was based on things going well at PSA and giving our next generation leaders the opportunity to run PSA on a day to day basis. We were meeting our goals and expectations; the board and stockholders were happy, and I ultimately felt it was the best time for me to make a transition. We were thoughtful in finding a replacement and were in the last round of due diligence in vetting candidates when the virus struck.
In the weeks that the coronavirus pandemic unfolded and it became apparent how much it would affect our economy and industry, PSA’s board of directors asked me to remain in my position so PSA would not face tremendous changes through an already tumultuous time. Now, I plan to stay on with the organization for an indefinite period as we see what long-terms affects COVID-19 will have on our world and businesses.
PSA’s board of directors was astute in understanding that more change was the last thing PSA needs right now. Consistent leadership makes business go round. This isn’t specific to our industry; it’s just the way the business world works. If you have strong leadership, you often have a great company and it works the other way around as well; poor leadership often means poor company performance.
I believe the important leadership traits in a crisis translate across any industry: resolve, determination, confidence, and empathy. Likewise, during tumultuous times like these, leaders often must make hard judgement calls from the limited information they have available. We have solid next generation leaders on our staff at PSA right now. Many of them are learning to lead in a crisis for the first time. This has been an excellent opportunity for them to learn from the more experienced members of our team and as we budget and plan for our 2020-2021 fiscal year, there will be more challenges ahead.
The transition out of crisis mode into a more regular one will be difficult for many. Especially for the smaller companies who have suffered the most through this. Some of our smaller companies will face challenges related to strength of their balance sheets. Often, larger companies have advantages here, but for smaller companies, many will have to build their strength back up after this; much like recovering from an illness.
It is important to understand we will never go back to “normal” after this crisis cools down. The post-COVID world will be quite different. There will be many positive things that come out of the coronavirus pandemic for everyone, but also many new challenges.
It will be difficult for many integrators and manufacturers to rapidly pivot to providing the products and services that will be demanded by the end user community related to remotely managing their security in a post virus environment. Fortunately, PSA has integrators and product providers who are ramped up and ready to go with managed services.
Our original plan was to gradually morph into a managed services business model but now everything is going to be expedited. Integrators are finding their end users do not want seven or eight technicians in their buildings, but rather one or two that have been screened and are in and out of the facility as quickly as possible. Technicians need the ability to remotely troubleshoot and fix their end users’ systems. Most of our community is not quite there yet, but our new business world will give them the incentive to embrace managed services quickly.
I will remain at PSA through the challenges ahead, working with our team to assure PSA stays strong through the COVID-19 crisis.
About the Author:
Bill Bozeman is CEO of PSA, the world’s largest system integrator consortium. Bozeman has 39 years of experience in the security systems integration business with a successful track record in both corporate and entrepreneurial environments. He has served as president of Delta Audio-Visual Security, president of Dictograph Alarm Systems Inc. and vice president of strategic alliances for Pinkerton Systems Integration.