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Shared sacrifice forges strong bond

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Amid the economic crisis in 2009, Darren Virassammy feared for his job. He worked for a small-business owner whom he greatly admired, but he figured the severe slowdown would lead to layoffs.

The owner, who launched the company nearly 10 years earlier, responded with striking candor. He admitted to his employees that he, too, felt fear for the future of his organization.

Rather than stay silent and hide from his staff, the owner did the opposite. He met with each employee and conveyed the same message: Everyone would need to accept a 20-percent pay cut (including himself) until conditions improved.  

In these one-on-one meetings, he assured the employees that he valued their contribution. He explained that he preferred to engage in across-the-board sacrifice to avoid any job losses.

Leaving his office, Virassammy thanked him for his actions. Others expressed their gratitude as well.

It’s a testament to the owner’s straightforward honesty that staffers who had just learned of a steep pay cut left the room on a high. Rather than lash out or point fingers, they showered the owner with praise for his willingness to level with everyone and share in the pain.  

In the months that followed, Virassammy and his peers bonded over the situation. They didn’t snipe at each other or spread rumors.

“The backroom, fearful conversations in the hallways were nonexistent at this point because, despite the unknowns, we all felt that the tribe was united to fight through to brighter days,” he recalls.

Within six months, the economy started showing signs of life. The owner rescinded everyone’s pay cut as he had promised.

— Adapted from “The Simon Sinek Perspective,” Darren Virassammy,

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