Q: Over the past year, what extra actions have you taken to strengthen your company’s culture and keep employees engaged, motivated and happy at work?


Ron Thomas and Kathy Finnerty Thomas, Owners, Stowbridge Promotion Group

“The pandemic completely changed the meaning of leader, coach and mentor. It tested leadership in more ways than any I can remember in my lifetime. It was a year that caused us to focus on survival—not just the health and survival of the company, but the physical, mental and emotional health and survival of our people and their families.  

“We have always put people first and it was this value that guided us through the pandemic. I will admit I was scared in the beginning but as I became thankful for the smallest of orders or progress, I discovered the true power of gratitude. I learned that gratitude and positivity are not a cliché but a true way to rewrite the brain in a time of adversity to help a person become more creative and productive rather than fearful and paralyzed. This also helped me be a better leader by modelling gratitude and helping others to see the positivity wherever possible. 

“We have always tried to be fair, but each person’s needs were different. It required incredible flexibility to make sure that employees could work and balance priorities at home such as children in remote learning situations. It required open conversation, empathy and watching every employee for signs and clues of how they were doing. Sometimes it was just being there to listen.

“We were in the fight together to bring our company through this. Ron and I worked long hours and nearly every weekend, and we never asked anyone to do a job that we would not do ourselves. While we worked to give employees what they needed, we were rewarded with incredible creativity and resourcefulness. As we began to pivot the company to ways we could help our customers, everyone took on jobs well outside of any job description or traditional role. I do believe it helped that Ron and I were right alongside of them doing whatever it took to complete a project.  It made our company far more successful and our team far more connected to each other. We are not returning to normal—we are a far better version of ourselves and our company than before the pandemic started.”

“As Simon Sinek says, ‘Leadership is not about being in charge, it is about taking care of those in your charge.’”