Leadership Moments: Jim Mahoney

//Leadership Moments: Jim Mahoney

Leadership Moments: Jim Mahoney

Leading in a Crisis

Greetings! Perhaps not since WWII has America faced a path that was so uncharted, uncertain, and unprecedented. We will soon learn to judge this statement by Mark Leavitt, a former HHS Secretary who said, “ Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate. “ In the meantime, we are all establishing our own new normal. This short briefing is intended to quickly remind you on parts of leadership, support thinking about it, and maybe even motivate you. When it works best, the briefing will inform, illustrate, and inspire.

Let’s get started. An oft told story is the one about two woodcutters engaged in a twelve hour woodcutting contest. The winner will be the one that has chopped and stacked the most wood. The contest begins and one cutter rarely stops for the entire twelve hours. However, his opponent nearby stops every hour for ten minutes. The one who clearly took breaks won the contest. The other couldn’t understand how a guy probably less strong than him and who took regular breaks could possibly cut more wood but he did. The winner shared with him that the answer was in what he did during those breaks. He said it was because he sharpened his ax. So, think of this brief as sharpening your ax. Reflecting on your leadership, thinking about what you practice,  and reviewing your results.

This brief is 3-2-1 – 3 Tips , 2 Quotes, and 1 Reminder.


The CHRO is a group of 650 of the world’s Chief Human Resource Officers representing some of the world’s leading companies. In a very recent sampling by Gallup of 100 of these officers come three insights from my review of their report and, as you think about the current corona crisis, actions you may take for your organization.

(A) CREATE A CRISIS MANAGEMENT TEAM (They meet regularly, speak with one voice, and deal with issues relevant to your organization. Issues might include travel, personal safety, cross training, what to do if one of your staff contracts the virus, etc.)

(B) COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. (People are down on what they aren’t up on. Your plan should include regular communications- be reassuring and personal. Be honest and relatable. )

(C) PAY ATTENTION TO WELL BEING (Your folks are your most important asset. Think about policies to support them- from off site work to helping them manage their increased stress. )


If not me, who? if not now, when?
-George Bernard Shaw

We are all in this together…..by ourselves
-Lily Tomlin


While we participate in a global society, we are all part of a local community. Local leadership matters more than you can imagine. I can promise you that in 50 years, your young people now will have forgotten some of the national and state leaders in this crisis. But they will remember you, what you did, how you made them feel, and how you lead through this life altering challenge. Remember ….when in charge, lead.

By |2020-04-23T08:21:06-04:00March 20th, 2020|Leadership Moments|Comments Off on Leadership Moments: Jim Mahoney

About the Author:

A long time educator and entrepreneur, Jim Mahoney has dedicated his life to bettering educational opportunities for all students, serving as a superintendent, principal, and teacher, as well as an adjunct professor at several Ohio universities. In 2001, he joined Battelle for Kids as the organization’s first executive director. Under his leadership, the organization grew into a national not-for-profit and impacted more than 6 million students and more than 400,000 educators nationwide. Today, Jim serves as an executive in residence for the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University and as educator in residence for Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA).