Tim Sloan, the former president and chief operating officer of Wells Fargo, now the new CEO and member of the bank’s board of directors, assures us that the cover-up continues. “You should expect more tough headlines, as additional accountability actions occur and other investigations and reviews are completed,” he said. But efforts to actually remedy the thousands, perhaps millions, of customer-facing problems Wells Fargo has caused, and is likely still causing, are stalled. Many may never really be resolved.
The First and Most Important Axiom of Crisis Survival:
Neither the media, your toughest opponents, smartest critics, nor the government knows enough to defeat you. Defeat is almost always the work of uninformed or over confident, overly optimistic bosses, co-workers and associates; well-meaning but uninformed friends, relatives, or from dysfunction in an organization.
Power Words and Phrases have the magical ability to get or keep you out of trouble and to move you and others in positive, constructive directions. These words counteract and detoxify the sticky, corrosive, destructive power of negative words and concepts.
When you’re in trouble, attracting media attention is surprisingly easy – you just don’t want it to be the wrong kind! If an event causes the phone to ring and TV cameras to appear in your lobby, you need confidence that the people who happen to be at your worksite that day are prepared. Not a problem if everyone – executives, PR, managers, and employees – is familiar with Jim Lukaszewski’s sure-fire methods for handling the media.
Read The Manager’s Guide to Handling the Media in Crisis: Saying & Doing the Right Thing When It Matters Most now.
A few weeks ago, Wells Fargo managed to stumble, fumble and bungle themselves into a $185 million fine involving literally millions of bogus customer transactions. Amazingly, the current Wells Fargo settlement, however, keeps the same perpetrating executives, who created and facilitated this fiasco, particularly CEO John Stump, in charge of cleaning it up and preventing more problems from happening. This is a very bad joke on all Wells Fargo customers.
If you’re a Wells Fargo customer, employee or shareholder, this headline has to be THE question on your mind. . . Given Mr. Stumpf’s recent testimony before the Senate, it may be the only question for him. What we know for sure is that the massive Wells Fargo fraud/cover-up will continue.
Most of my career has been in or around the C Suite, which has given me the chance to observe dozens of different types of consultants and advisors and hundreds, literally hundreds, of public relations practitioners and attorneys, all giving advice.
When trouble comes, trust in leadership is often the first casualty. I define trust as the absence of fear, because when trust is severely damaged or gone, it is replaced by uncertainty and doubt. Sustaining trust requires the systematic participation and example through communication and behavior by leadership. Even in the most adverse circumstances, we expect leaders to be trustworthy and act ethically. We are disappointed when they fail.
I first discovered Dan Ciampa when his book, “Taking Advice, How Leaders Get Good Counsel and Use It Wisely,” came out in 2006. This is an amazing book about helping leaders find good sources of outside advice. Dan has spent his career in, around, on, and being a hands-on corporate leader. He is a perfect example of a fascinating practitioner.
A remarkable practitioner you should know, David Grossman, Founder and Chief Executive of The Grossman Group based in Chicago. He first came to my attention when I heard him speak about his work in internal communications and leadership development at McDonald’s. In the following conversation, he talks about a variety of interesting topics and ideas, particularly his intellectual and professional commitment to developing authentic leaders in our profession.