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How to Empower Your Team Amid Adversity: Insights From Abby Schlatter

Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean companies should face it unprepared. Employees and leaders alike can traverse the unexpected as long as there’s consistent alignment, trust, and unity. 

When embodying business resilience, commonFont is proud to stay ahead of the curve. With more than half of its staff consisting of women, the Experience Management technology services company is committed to intentional action and support—not just for its clients, but for its larger work community, and during every pivotal life stage. 

Here, Abby Schlatter, CEO and Co-Founder, shares her top strategies for maximal team empowerment.

1. What is business resilience?

Business resilience is the ability to navigate change and endure during very dynamic times. As  a professional services business, commonFont constantly needs to reinvent and re-envision what we provide to our clients in order to continue to deliver value.

Our business environment, industry, and services offerings have changed greatly over the course of 10 years in business, and our organization will continue to evolve. In our current times, we are in a very transformational period in technology with the emergence of AI. As a services firm, we are adapting our capabilities and methodologies to help our clients leverage AI to their competitive advantage. 

commonFont stands for communal fountain, which represents shared benefits for everyone in our community. Our company’s name also stands for renewal, learning, growth, and change. Like a fountain powered by a mountain spring, our organization constantly changes and refreshes. 

I think about resilience as the ability to make decisions and move forward with confidence in the face of ambiguity to ultimately persevere in a way that remains true to one’s mission, ethics, and values as a business.

2. How do you personally strive to empower your team?

A key way that I empower my team is through connection to purpose and mission. At commonFont, our purpose is to improve human understanding, experiences, and outcomes for the betterment of humankind and the world.  When teammates feel connected to purpose and understand their essential roles, they’re empowered to contribute and succeed.  

Community has been core to how we problem solve and engage together as a team. We win as a business based on how we perform individually and collectively. I also care about my team and their aspirations and advancement. I want them to know me as a leader and feel confidence in me. To do that, we need personal connection. 

Finally, I would add that fun and levity help to build bonds and strengthen connection. Last year, we rented a ski mountain in Montana and brought the whole team together to engage in exceptional hospitality. We had conversations about our goals and how we would achieve them, and we took the time to build relationships together in person.

3. How did you help your team overcome a challenge? What did you learn in the process?

We bootstrapped commonFont, and in our company’s early days, winning a client, providing an outstanding experience, and earning the opportunity to serve clients again were required for our continued existence as a firm. This focus on client outcomes and experience carries through to how we remain successful today.

During times of adversity, it’s important to be clear on strategic priorities and how to execute against them with focus and pace. Communication and transparency about key decisions are vital, as is sharing how teammates can contribute to support the organization’s success.

Leaders need to assess situations and the decisions that need to be made. Be bold and audacious; be willing to rethink and reconsider everything. Challenge paradigms, notions, and entrenched ways of thinking in order to approach problems with a fresh set of eyes. Find opportunities to engage in concepts in a different way, with a different perspective. 

Your work community is the beating pulse of business success. 

Looking for other ways to bolster team empowerment? At CCWomen, a professional platform for women and allies, we’re on a mission to cultivate a space where leaders from all backgrounds can trailblaze toward a brighter working world. 

We’d love to have you be a part of our mission. Partner with us today!