As posted on LinkedIn.

Over the years, I’ve learned that leading a business through a crisis is a lot easier when you ground yourself in what’s truly important.

The past several months have been extremely challenging for everyone – people, organizations and entire industries – and Nutrien is no exception. Thankfully, our company has managed to not only survive, but thrive in a lot of ways, despite the difficult circumstances. We’ve got great assets and tremendous people, but I think our success largely comes down to knowing what we stand for.

When the pandemic hit, we made sure that our two core values – safety and integrity – guided our decision-making. With so many unknowns, it was really the only way forward. It wasn’t about predicting what would happen, but about prioritizing what we believed was best for our employees, our communities and our shareholders. Staying true to this commitment has been critical to our company’s continued strong performance.

On a more personal level and in a similar way, these past months have reinforced my belief that cultivating strong personal values is a critical part of being a good leader.

Whether you’re in the C-suite now, or you hope to get there someday – or if you just want to be more effective in your current job – it’s important to take time to reflect on what matters to you. Ultimately, it’ll shape how you lead, in good times and bad.

So, what is it that I value as a business leader? It comes down to three things.

Transparency: I’m a big believer in open, honest conversation. At the beginning of the pandemic, we made sure our executive leadership team was highly visible and communicating often, and openly – even when we didn’t have the answers. I also believe that transparency is a two-way street, so we’ve worked hard to establish a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up – and more importantly, where they know we’re listening. When employees contact me directly, I try to answer every single email.

Collaboration: No one has all the answers, so good leaders need to be humble – and listen more than they talk. Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been collaborating with my executive leadership team more frequently than ever, with an emphasis on making decisions with our people, not for them. We actively listen to our employees, and their input has helped shape our response to the pandemic, and helped us succeed. Crises can pull teams apart or bring them together, and I’m proud to say that so far, it’s brought us closer as a company.

Optimism: As leaders, we shape the vision for our companies and inspire our people to help us bring that to life. In times of crisis, it’s easy to lose focus on the opportunity down the road. In Nutrien’s case, COVID-19 has presented challenges, but we have a critical role to play and an exciting path ahead when it comes to sustainably feeding the world. There are plenty of reasons for optimism – and as CEO, it’s my job to help my people remember that.

Challenging times often force us to pause and reflect on what truly matters to us – and the better we are at embracing this opportunity, the more it will strengthen us as people.