When I read a recent headline that said, Courageous leaders are in high demand and short supply these days, it struck me when the COVID-19 pandemic hit - I had two choices; I could either be a victim or find the courage to step up by asking myself the question, “So what now?”
I think in difficult situations, like pivoting and organizing a response, strategy and plan in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, if you pick up any leadership book, the list that comprises great leadership is so long and, at times contradictory, they leave me wondering where to start? To that end, I have always started with the mindset of “don’t be a victim.”
From my perspective I’ve always tried to demonstrate bold but reasoned judgement, spirited but calculated risk taking and empowering people to make informed decisions. But to do this, I’ve also realized I needed to find the courage to step up and shift from WTF to asking myself so what now. When you are stuck in WTF, you are a victim, powerless, stagnant with no growth, clarity or focus and when you shift to courage and ask “So what now?” a magical thing happens…strength, control, accountability, clarity, action and yes the BIG O…Opportunity!
I remember reading once that Aristotle called courage the first virtue, because it makes all the other virtues possible. The more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve realized that courage is also the most important business virtue, especially in difficult times.
Think about it, important business concepts like leadership, innovation and sales wither in the absence of courage. Leadership takes making bold and often unpopular decisions. Leadership takes courage. Innovation involves creating ground-breaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage. Sales requires being repeatedly rejected before closing a deal. Sales takes courage. Take away courage, and sales, innovation and leadership lose their potency.
But it's not easy.
Demonstrating leadership courage - whether it's having an uncomfortable conversation, communicating when you don't have all the answers like during the COVID-19 pandemic or making a decision to move ahead - can be scary. Yet, I also realized it's precisely the kind of behavior that fosters trust and sets a crucial example for others to follow at a time when they'd rather hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
As an example, when we learned about the pandemic, the interest and potential investment for many junior exploration companies all by dried up. We were no different, but rather than throw our hands up in the air, we got down to business and started to look for alternatives. If we were going to execute on our exploration plan and keep driving the company forward, we knew we couldn’t rely on “business as usual” for the answers.
This is partly how our strategic partnership and financing with Doyon, Ltd., one of Alaska’s largest Native Regional Corporations and landholders, came about. We initially partnered in the summer of 2018, and were granted exclusive rights to explore, develop and mine all minerals, ores and mineral products extracted from Tectonic’s Seventy mile and Northway Projects, which are situated on Doyon land. So, it only made sense that we would reach out and suggest to Doyon they should invest in the Company and become a significant shareholder. As shareholders, our interests are aligned and ESG is taken to a whole other level. It was time to walk the walk and not just talking the talk.
The idea sounded crazy at first, but our outreach was successful, and Doyon invested a couple of million dollars and took a 22.3% partially-diluted ownership in Tectonic. Now we have a partner and a major investor in the company cheering us on and supporting us in our endeavour to find the next mine, mitigate risks along the way while also maximizing the social and economic benefits to the communities in which we operate.
This is just one of the examples of how the team at Tectonic have courageously stepped up and answered the question so what now. There are several more, like how we shifted our mindset from cost cutting to value creating during the pandemic or how we raised an additional $4.9 million dollars this year bringing the total capital raised so far in 2020 to $7 million dollars; the most capital raised in a single year in the company’s three year history. Next up, we implemented the COVID-19 protocol for the health and safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate in to allow for the implementation and execution of two drill programs this summer, or how we acquired the geological, geochemical and geophysical dataset of the entire region and stake 74 State of Alaska mining claims.
Over the past six months, I’ve learned more about who I am as a leader, what my leadership style is and that courage is the fuel that drives me to succeed. There are times to lead from the side or behind, but during a crisis it’s time to lead with courage. For me in business, and in life right now, if you roll up your sleeves and be courageous others will be inspired to do the same.