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A love letter to our leader

A NOTE OF EXPLANATION FROM THE TALENTRUST TEAM ABOUT THE “LOVE LETTER TO OUR LEADER DURING COVID,” BELOW: Last June, at the height of the pandemic, when the world turned upside down with challenges and uncertainty, we wrote this letter to Kathleen Quinn Votaw, founder and CEO of TalenTrust—and our boss. The way she showed caring and concern about the wellbeing of each of us on her team made us each feel valued and loved; and her strong, transparent leadership over the past year gave us a sense of safety, compassion, and hope. As we finally begin to emerge from our Covid year, we’d like to share our letter with the readers of Enterprising Women as a very personal example of what makes an exceptional leader.

A Love Letter to Our Leader during Covid

Dear Kathleen,

We’ve admired and appreciated you, grown with you, and laughed and cried with you. Most of us have been with you for many years, and all of us have worked together to build a business we couldn’t be more proud of. You have made us a team, and not just any team. An enviable team that reflects a boss who is everything a leader should be. We know how lucky we are and, especially through this time of Covid, we appreciate how you continue to put your people—us—first, and everything else second. This is our way of saying “thank you” for modeling absolutely everything you’ve always said a leader should be—even through this pandemic. Your true colors have shone as bright as ever over the past few months in so many ways. In the words of your staff, here are just some of things you’ve done to make our lives easier and continue to find joy in our work throughout this troubled time.

One of the first things we noticed is that you didn’t have to switch gears much when Covid interrupted our lives. You live your values every day and in every circumstance—always doing what’s right for us and our clients. Some of us were on mute during a client meeting recently listening to you offer guidance to business owners on what to do for employees during Covid. We felt like turning off mute and shouting out that you actually live your own advice and it works!

One day, during “stay-at-home,” you surprised the whole team by having lunch delivered to each of us, making a special delivery to one of us who lives in the boondocks. Two weeks later, you baked cookies, beautifully packaged them along with chocolates, and personally delivered or mailed them to us along with a thoughtful, uniquely personal note. This was above and beyond what any CEO has ever done, we’re sure. And as if that weren’t enough, when some restrictions were lifted you hosted a picnic for us at Evergreen Lake. It was so special to be face-to-face once again. You always seem to know exactly what to do to preserve our team spirit and alignment on plans, priorities, and contingencies.

You delight us with random inspirational poems and notes that help boost our spirits. And you listen and remember in so many personal ways.

Our weekly meetings re-ensure connection and transparency, build trust, and strengthen our belief that, together, our effort will overcome this crisis. During the weekly meetings, or one-on-one, you not only discuss issues but offer solutions and invite our gut-level questions and reactions about anything that concerns us, whether it’s our finances, where we are at risk, how our clients are doing, whether our jobs are in jeopardy (they’re not), and whether we’re solvent (we are). You give us total confidence in you and our future by always being open and honest with us.

On every single Zoom call, you’ve been nicely dressed with your hair done and make-up on, being your usual professional self and not at all concerned about what the rest of us look like, thank goodness!

Our leadership team has a window that allows us to see you on a little closer level, experiencing you behind the scenes of this difficult time. We see your stress and the long hours you put in day in and day out. We’ve seen you a little down and a little scared on a few occasions. We feel your pain along with your deep care about preserving the team and lightening our load. Somehow, you handle it all. Your true character has emerged stronger during these difficult times. It teaches us, inspires us, and humbles us.

This pandemic is messy and hard for everyone we know, but you manage to bring in laughter and fun and help us all keep perspective on what is most important in life. Your virtual happy hours have been the perfect forum for all of this! While many of our friends and families are fearful and uncertain by the challenges their companies face, we’re grateful for your open communication and honesty that enable us to know where we stand during this difficult time.

We know that through it all, your #1 concern at every turn has been to communicate in a way that makes sure we feel safe and heard. We want to tell you that, through clear, honest communication, palpable optimism, and unflappable focus, you have succeeded. We know you will always have our back—and we will always have yours.

Kathleen, you have been recognized for your achievements and leadership on numerous stages around the country. We, your employees, want to recognize you too—for always putting your people first—especially through these dark times. Through this letter, we hope we are surprising and delighting you as you do us every working day.

With much love, appreciation, and virtual hugs,

Your TalenTrust Team

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