Often leaders are asked to transform existing organizations. Getting employees, customers or clients to accept change can be a tough task.
But this year, change is happening whether anyone likes it or not. The challenge isn’t creating change, but managing it. That’s why Greater Louisville Inc. recently hosted a virtual discussion on the skills you need when “Leading Through Change.” The conversation was between Katie Blakeley, CEO of PetFirst, and Tom Cox, President of the Oliver Group.
Just a few months ago, Blakeley was named one of the most admired CEOs in Louisville, for her leadership of locally owned PetFirst Pet Insurance, based near Louisville. Since then, PetFirst was acquired by MetLife, a publicly traded company that is a global leader in insurance.
Leading her staff through that change primed her to deal with the workforce challenges that came with COVID-19. While it was important to have people answering the phones quickly when customers needed to talk to a representative, employees were suddenly facing challenges such as closed daycares.
“We had to be realistic about what we could do. Putting a heavy foot down and saying you have to work X hours or there are consequences helps no one,” she added. “We had to be sure we were serving our customers, but we also had to be sure we were serving our team.”