170 words = reading time: 1 minute
Even the slightest delay in exposing, disclosing, and explaining bad news always quickly morphs into unexplainable situations. You can argue and debate this. Many have tried. but the time consumed in your debate is seen as silly and unexplainable. In every situation where I have witnessed bad news delayed, denied, deferred, or dismissed, the actual bad news quickly no longer mattered.
The fatal career damage comes from the inability, reluctance and frankly naive arrogance of leaders failing to immediately, convincingly, explain with humility, why they waited so long to do something, say something, take at least minimally humane and empathetic action, assume at least some portion of responsibility while victims and damage accumulated.
I often describe these reputationally toxic behaviors as straight face test failures, laugh test failures, integrity failures. Stalling, delaying, denying and blame shifting will topple, dissolve, destroy even the most successful, visible, promising, and “locked in” senior level careers.
*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today.