Ben Horowitz, in his book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” draws a parallel between periods of what he calls peace – meaning times when your company is making bank, and times of war – which isn’t to say your business is writing hot checks, but at the same time, things are tighter. Specifically, he talks about the difference between Peacetime and Wartime CEOs – and what differentiates them.
To quote Ben (not being disrespectful, but his first name is so much easier to spell than his last name), a Peacetime CEO “focuses on the big picture and empowers her people to make detailed decisions.” The Wartime CEO, on the other hand, “cares about a speck of dust on a gnat’s ass if it interfered with the prime directive.” In other words, a good Wartime CEO is in the details and trusts no one, whereas, during Peacetime, the CEO is all about empowerment and development.
The same parallels can be drawn with HR leaders. If you are leading the HR function of your business during Peacetime, your focus may be on things like adding staff, development, and feel-good initiatives.
If you are leading during Wartime you are still recruiting, but you will not accept the “we need bodies!” rallying cry. Every hire MUST be a chance to club up. You are looking for 10X Talent. Development – of personnel and systems – will take a back seat, as will so-called “morale boosters” (by the way, nothing craters morale more than a company going out of business). Of course, layoffs are no picnic, but they are necessary for the greater good – the remaining employees and the business.
HR Pros must be able to switch between these two modes and help our leaders make the shift because the growth and survival (depending on if we are in Peacetime or Wartime) of your organization may depend on it.