CEO’s are leaders, and leaders should provide leadership during a crisis. So why don’t they? CEO’s, what holds you back and stops you from taking charge? What keeps you from moving your organization beyond the event?
In a crisis a leader has 5 groups to think about. One – those people directly affected by the event; Two – customers, people or organizations that depend on your product or service; Three – employees, people and suppliers whose livelihood your business supports and who may have been involved in the delivery of service at the time of an event; Four – Boards of Directors – individuals with a legal and oversight responsibility for the business; and Five – Investors / Stockholders– individuals or organizations who have some ownership and expect a return from the business and want to know how a crisis will be managed.
A highly successful leader in a crisis meets the needs of these groups. Presuming you have a plan and resources, and have exercised those plans and resources then you can achieve success. This means when a crisis strikes go on the offensive to address the needs of the people. Not the defensive –waiting to be asked or told. Reactive leadership is never successful in a crisis. It means being honest and transparent in communications, managing your response to the event not trying to control the event or even the message. It means saying you are sorry and assisting those people directly affected by the event.
Say you are sorry? Yes. In today’s environment of litigation and criminal investigations it is even more important to acknowledge the event and the immediate impact it has had on people. Why, because in many cases anger drives the contentious litigation and criminal investigations. The anger is not because the event occurs. It is because the way a company leadership responds to the event. It is because leadership withdraws and allows the event and multiple other parties to govern the response. True crisis leadership means realizing the importance of governing the response.
Based on my experiences in multiple large scale loss of life incidents, brand reputational and too many other crises, I am certain that the leader who follows this course of action will achieve success. Sadly, few seem to realize its importance. What do you think?