What is the Manifesto* for Your Practice?

What are the Ethical, Practical Principles and Behaviors That Guide and Drive Your Practice?

The Seventh Discipline of the Trusted Strategic Advisor

My career has been more than forty years of refining what I stand for, always searching for the truth first and helping others do the same. I share this list with anyone interested, but especially those I’m advising. In order to be a truly successful Trusted Strategic Advisor, you need to teach what you coach in ways that help CEO’s absorb what you are talking about and do, in many cases, what you advise. You need to teach you right along with the advice you give.

This list keeps growing and so will yours. Start building your own practice manifesto now.

What will your practice manifesto look like? Here’s mine to get you started.

*A public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives. – dictionary.com

Jim’s Practice Manifesto

  1. Seek the truth first, find ethical, civil, and decent pathways, promptly and urgently.
  2. Truth is generally best expressed in positive declarative language and consists of 15% facts and data and 85% emotion and point of reference.

    There is a mistaken notion (from business schools) that the more facts presented the more likely the truth will emerge. The exact opposite is true. The more facts and data are released, the more confused people get, but more importantly, burying people, especially victims, in facts and data makes them feel stupid or foolish, and they get angrier and more powerful. The challenge of truth is understanding the emotionality of truth and especially the fact that there are different points of reference on every issue or question. In fact, there is a different point of reference for every witness, every victim, and everyone affected. Each of those points of reference is valid and true from the perspective of the person involved.

    The challenge of truth is always finding significant and important factual information but understanding, interpreting, and sometimes negotiating with people whose point of reference is very different from others involved in the same issue, situation, or problem.

    Management often uses facts and data as a defense against having to interpret, explore, and explain emotions. The more facts are used as weapons, the bigger your loss will be when you finally settle the issue.
  3. Use truth-hiding and truth-confusing techniques very carefully. Storytelling, metaphors, allegories, euphemisms, “ . . .in other words”, similes, and analogies rarely reveal, explore, or produce truth. Remember, these techniques are frequently used by liars. If something is a half-truth, it is a whole lie.
  4. Avoid known patterns of failure: silence: stalling: denial: victim-confusion: testosterosis: arrogance: searching for the guilty: fear of the media: whining. All of these behaviors build suspicion and anger.
  5. Ask better, tougher, more constructive questions than anyone else.
  6. Be 15 minutes early, or first.
  7.  Avoid surprises, forecast trouble (have a readiness plan in hand).
  8. Think before you edit, put your pencil down. Question all edits. Resist mindless editing. Seek simple, sensible, constructive explanations and information. Effective editing makes the truth easier to see, often in fewer words.
  9. Constantly challenge the standard assumptions and practices of our profession; build its importance, enhance the ability of all practitioners to better serve others from their perspective. Raise your hand. Speak up. Break the silence. Reveal the truth.
  10. Be productive, do the doable; know the knowable; get the getable; arrange the arrangeable, avoid the dumb and troublesome decisions and actions you know you should. Make a list. Remember. If you make a bad decision, never repeat it.
  11. Say things others fear to say, voice them first. Start with what is obvious and likely true. All crises ripen badly. In crises, things will always get worse before they can get better.
  12. Say less but make it more important. Write less but make it more meaningful and memorable.
  13. Go beyond what those you advise and those you work with already know or believe.
  14. Intend to make constructive, positive ethical differences every day. Keep a log.
  15. Intentionally look at every situation and circumstance from different, constructive, and surprising perspectives.
  16. Look out for the real victims. Always put victim interests first. Fail to do this and the victims will bury you.
  17. Remember, it’s your boss’s “bus.” They get to drive it wherever they want. Your role on “the bus” is to help the driver drive better. If you don’t like it, or them, can’t change it, or them, hop off, find another bus, or find and drive your own.
  18. Stop trying to save the day. The biggest staff mistake is to hang around in the vain belief that you can redeem yourself or, change how someone powerful does things, believes, and behaves. When they are done asking you and listening to you, find a new bus. When they have an opportunity to look a new direction, they surprise you by hiring an outsider and then you’re gone.
  19. Remember the loyalty exception: If whatever is happening on your bus is illegal, immoral, monumentally stupid, what are you doing there anyway? Leave that bus today and find a better one!
  20. Be aware that every issue, question, concern, or problem is a management/leadership issue, question, concern or problem (rather than a crisis) before it is any other kind of issue, question, concern or problem (including public relations).
  21. Start where leadership or management IS or you will end up in different places and fail.
  22. Strive for simple, sensible, sensitive, positive, constructive, compassionate, helpful, honorable, and ethical action options. All other approaches lead to trouble.
  23. The most usable advice format for leaders and managers to choose from is options. Always provide your advice as 3 options: doing nothing (0% option), doing something (100% option), doing something more (125% option). Let the person whose career is on the line choose the options and make the key decisions. That’s their job. Your job is to identify plausible, ethical, sensible, doable options from which managers and leaders can choose.
  24. Be Inconsistent. Inconsistency is the greatest virtue of strategy. The strategist’s greatest value is intentional inconsistency. If all you can provide are things the people around you already know, why are you there?
  25. Avoid, prevent, or stop Evil, the increasingly intentional harming of innocents and people without power. Innocents include vulnerable populations, animals and living creatures, and living systems (forests, bodies of water, the earth). (See V. below.)

My Fundamental Beliefs

  1. All questionable, inappropriate, unethical, unconscionable, immoral, predatory, improper, victim-producing, and criminal behaviors are intentional. Adults chose specifically to do wrong.
  1. All ethical, moral, compassionate, decent, civil, and lawful behaviors are also intentional.
  1. The choice is always clear and always yours.
  1. Those who lead with genuine integrity, civility, respect, decency, humility, and compassion are likely to be more ethical, and trustworthy.
  1. Unconscionable intentions, behaviors, actions, and decisions that vilify, demean, dismiss, diminish, humiliate, cause needless but intentional pain, express anger and irritation, demand or bully, are mean, negative, insulting, disrespectful, disparaging, tone-deaf, without empathy, that intentionally injure, accuse, overbear, are punitive, restrictive, exceed the boundaries of decency, civility, and integrity, are, in my judgement, all unethical.
  1. Teaching what I can do, how I can help, the perspectives I bring, this is the substance of the seventh discipline, teaching the CEO how to best utilize my skills and services. If it doesn’t work or only works for a limited time, be prepared to move on, because they may have for any number of reasons.

What About You?

What are the principles that guide your practice, your thinking, your actions? What does your practice manifesto look like? I am always open to conversations about all these ideas. Contact me at jel@e911.com, subject line: “Ethical and Practical Principles”. If you do write or call me, I will send you my powerful one-page “Model Personal Profile, The purposes and passions of my life”.

Marshall Goldsmith: ‘You Can Be More’

byDan Bigman, editor, Chief Executive. dbigman@ChiefExecutiveGroup.com

Many people consider Marshall Goldsmith the best CEO coach in the world. And in his most recent column for Chief Executive, written with co-author Kelly Goldsmith, he shares one of the best coaching tips he’s ever received—and how you can deploy it successfully while leading your company.

What is it? Simple. Use four challenging words: “‘You can be more!” As the Goldsmiths write: “The greatest return on training and development can come from coaching top performers and encouraging them to be even better, as opposed to ‘fixing’ problem employees who are performing poorly.”

For chief executive officers, “it can be tempting to spend most of your coaching time working with people who have problems. There is nothing wrong with this, but you may be missing a much bigger opportunity.” Instead, they write, try this simple change in your leadership SOP:

  • Change your focus. Make a list of the highest potential leaders in your organization. People who are already doing a great job. They are “on a roll,” hitting the numbers and doing great work. They are not only comfortable; they are feeling great about their performance.
  • Challenge the best. For each one, think how you can deliver a “you can be more” message that might change their life in a positive way. Communicating that “you can be more” to a top performer is the ultimate form of positive recognition. You are recognizing how great they are doing now and communicating your belief that they have the capability of becoming even more.

Finally, they write, never stop applying “you can be more” to yourself. “Never get too comfortable,” they write. “If you want [your team] to become the leaders that they have the potential to be, let them watch you do the same thing.” Read the full column >

— Dan Bigman, editor, Chief Executive. dbigman@ChiefExecutiveGroup.com

Special Note: If you’re looking for insights into the biggest issues facing CEO’s, along with strategic ideas, solutions, and interviews. Consider subscribing to Executive: CEO Briefing.

Subscribe Free at www.chiefexecutive.net, contact@chiefexecutive.net or 203-930-2700

Your Integrity Manifesto
The Ingredients of Integrity and Trust

Credibility and Trust are built on the fundamentally acceptable behavior of an organization and its leaders. The approach advocated here comes from observing hundreds of leaders and managers over 40 years and how they achieved a reputation for trustable behavior.

In general, these managers believed in or had a mantra similar to; “Credibility is conferred on us based on our past behavior.”

Seven Trust and Credibility Beliefs and Behaviors;
The Ingredients of Integrity

These Seven actionable tasks or assignments, when executed by leadership example and emulated by everyone in the organization fosters a reputation for trust and credibility and demonstrates extraordinary integrity.

I call this a manifesto because it contains language publicly professed to motivate, activate, energize, and inspire constructive action. It’s a public commitment to do what you say you’ll do,  proof of your integrity, and a powerful proof of leadership. Employees love to talk about concepts like these.

  1. “When problems occur, we’ll be prepared to talk openly about them and act quickly to respond to them operationally.”
  2. “If the public should know about an issue or problem which could affect them, we will voluntarily talk about it as quickly and as completely as we can.”
  3. “When problems or changes occur, we will keep the community posted on a schedule they set until the problem or changes have been thoroughly explained or resolved.”
  4. “We will answer every question the community may have and suggest and volunteer additional information on matters the community has yet asked questions about, but will.”
  5. “We will answer every question, as long as questions are being asked, no matter how many times a question is asked and answered. When people stop asking questions, we will continue to publicize questions and answers to assure that all those affected by decisions and actions have a chance to recognize the information we’re providing.”
  6. “We will be cooperative with the various news platforms and organizations, but our primary responsibility is to communicate directly with those most directly affected by our actions as soon as possible.”
  7. “We will respect and seek to work with those who oppose us.”

The Ethical and Practical Principles That Guide Jim’s Practice – 2024 Version

  1. Wake up each day thinking “Today I may do the most important thing I will ever do.”
  2. Act ethically, strive to find ideal behaviors, promptly, and urgently.
  3. Be 15 minutes early, first in line, quicker than fast, smarter, sharper. Get the best choices.
  4. Consistently challenge the standard assumptions and practices of our profession, build its importance, and enhance the ability of all practitioners to better serve others from the other’s perspective. Raise your hand. Your most powerful change tool: be Inconsistent.
  5. Do the doable; know the knowable; get the getable; arrange the arrangeable.
  6. Expect to be helpful and useful. Teach Pattern recognition the source of most successes.
  7. Focus on what truly matters. Always through an ethical lens.
  8. Go beyond what those you work with believe or already think they know.
  9. Intend to make a constructive ethical difference every day. Ask better questions.
  10. Intentionally look at every situation and circumstance from different perspectives.
  11. Look out for the real victims. Act to protect them and prevent more.
  12. Remember, it’s your boss’s “bus.” They get to drive it wherever they want. If you don’t like it, or can’t deal with it, hop off and go to somebody else’s bus, or drive your own.
  13. Every issue, question, concern, or problem is a management issue, leadership question, concern, or problem before it is any other kind of issue, question, concern, or problem.
  14. Start where leadership or management is or you will arrive at different destinations.
  15. Recommend doable, sensible options. Help the boss build solutions. That’s what they do.
  16. Preserve being heard: If the boss won’t agree to or do your suggestion in 10 days, they never will. Give it up and suggest something else. New ideas get old fast.
  17. Do the Platinum Rule: help others help others achieve what matters to them from their perspective. You will reap the thanks and gratitude you almost never get acting alone. Greet enthusiastically, respond faster, suggest the ground rules, almost always win.

The Grand Crisis Response Strategy is READINESS

Five Crucial Time-Sensitive Readiness Steps
For Getting the Most Important Things Done
And describable
From the Start of a Crisis.

by James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus
America’s Crisis Guru®

The most reputationally challenging time in crisis is at the start and very early crisis moments. So little is known and is very sketchy. The slightest awkward silence, whatever the reason, causes ripples of questions and trouble throughout your response.

Stop thinking, talking, and describing crisis…think, talk, and describe READINESS.

If your readiness preparations follow a grand strategy including speaking from the start, the danger of unexplainable and questioned silences can be avoided. Unfolding event patterns teach you what actual future responses will be required. Choosing to remain silent, whatever the reason, once discovered, is frequently a fatal management career error.

Because you will require some time to understand exactly what is going on you can immediately implement a strategic five-step first communication management response. The goal is to launch your response narrative, and your first response action intentions within the first 60-120 minutes of the crisis incident, whatever the crisis happens to be. Link to Jim’s Wisdom #47

When you don’t (and you often can’t) exactly know what’s happening you can describe and discuss the strategic, and incremental response action steps to be taken, and those already underway.

The Grand Response Readiness Strategies:

  1. Stop the production of victims. This is response goal #1. Continuous victim production and response mistakes are what drives media coverage, survivor and public interest, the emotionalization, the commentary and criticism from 1000 different sources focused on your reputation destruction.
  2. Manage the victim dimension. This is what leaders and senior managers should be overseeing rather than hanging around and second-guessing the command center. Link to Concise Advice #21.
  3. Calm and settle down employees and those directly affected. Communicate directly and frequently with employees, stakeholders, survivors, and those directly affected. Use frequent brief 50–150-word internal statements. These are more easily created, understood, approved, and released than news releases.
  4. Notify those indirectly affected, those who will have a problem or have a problem now because you have a problem; regulators, licensing authorities, neighbors, partners, collaborators, key stakeholders, those who need to know and who should hear from you very promptly.
  5. Manage the self-appointed, the self-anointed; the news media and the new media, those who opt in on their own, the critics, the bellyachers, the backbench bickerers, and the bloviators.
  6. Your message and statement content is the same information you have provided internally a bit earlier.

This is the strategy management needs to help everyone affected inside and outside focus on what matters most and first. Far too many response plans have only legacy media public relations-driven tactics. Readiness for crisis communication response is a management responsibility driven by simple, sensible, constructive, positive, and clearly achievable communication techniques. Communication that begins externally always conflicts with what insiders know. It’s problematic.

Always remember, the technically perfect response appears to be flawed if there is a failure to promptly speak in the early going. Silence always implies doing nothing while victims are being created. There is no credible, believable, or acceptable explanation. The toxicity of silence is completely predictable and preventable.

Key Snap Readiness Wisdoms:

  1. A crisis is defined as a:
    • People-stopping, show-stopping, product-stopping.
    • Reputation redefining events that create victims and/or explosive visibility. I’ve yet to find or see a more clear and concise crisis definition.
  2. “Crisis Management” is a PR term invented to scare managers and leaders into funding communication and other crises related activities. Stop using it.
  3. “Readiness” is a management term (from 9-11-01) that drives serious and often crucial activities that directly and promptly address serious problems.
  4. All organizations have problems. That’s really what management primarily exists to remedy. Crises are extremely rare. Crises are always crucial problems that need to be prepared for.
  5. Even the most technically perfect crisis response will be remembered badly, permanently if communication fails in the beginning. Regardless of the problem itself, the blame will fall on those that failed to communicate appropriately and strategically from the beginning.
  6. Silence always implies doing nothing while victims are being created. There is no credible, believable, or acceptable explanation.
  7. The toxicity of silence is completely predictable and preventable.
  8. Silence, stalling, blame-shifting, and other diversion strategies, if discovered and revealed, are often fatal professional errors by those in charge, however competent they may be.

Destructive Language Decimates Trust

Leadership language choices in difficult situations are often early indicators of dysfunction. In fact, their adverse behaviors and language choices are often diagnostic of their dysfunction. Here are some examples to watch for:

  • Denial
  • Defensiveness
  • Deflection
  • Denigration
  • Disrespect
  • Demeaning
  • Discrediting
  • Distain

Not only do these behaviors, attitudes, and language choices destroy trust, they create victims, critics and angry people, families and organizations. These groups will work tirelessly to make leadership pay the price for unwanted behaviors.

These negative examples are enormously time-wasting, often trigger similar even more emotionally negative responses in return, foster contentiousness, confrontation, contempt, confusion and consternation. These behavior choices are corrosive to trust.

James E. Lukaszewski (loo-ka-SHEV-skee) is widely known as America’s Crisis Guru. He is a speaker, author (13 books and hundreds of articles and monographs), lecturer and ethicist (Emeritus member of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards BEPS). His book Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management had dozens of examples of corrosive behaviors and what to do about them.

© Copyright 2023, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru® Get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder, jel@e911.com.

Jim Lukaszewski – Snap Wisdom #4

Compassionate but with Caution

  1. Control your language and control your own emotions: Avoid taking personal criticism, inflammatory language, and emotionally charged words, such as “ashamed,” “embarrassed,” “humiliated,” “bad,” “ugly,” “weird,” “worried,” and “scum.” They are just words. Until you react. Then they become headlines.
  2. Instead, move to answer questions constructively and manage your emotional reaction by focusing on positive declarative responses.
  3. Compassion and empathy sometimes use Color (emotional) Words to emphasize that we understand the damage we’ve done, or that others have suffered, such as:
Concerned Tragic

CAUTION: Be very careful how and whether you express empathy.
Empathetic sentiments can cause negative reactions from victims. Be
ready for that.

Do constructive, positive, helpful actions and deeds they will speak
louder than words.

Remain quiet. Let someone else speak, or simply, let your empathetic
actions and deeds do the talking.

© Copyright 2023, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru®
Get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder, jel@e911.com.

Jim Lukaszewski – Snap Wisdom #3

The Liar’s Secret Evil Oath Revealed*
With a hand on someone else’s checkbook or reputation… 
I solemnly swear to avoid the truth;
The whole truth;
Any part of the truth;
Using every tool on the Liar’s List, and more; 
To lie, mislead, misstate, demean, humiliate, and subvert; 
To disparage the truth, and threaten pain and suffering to truthtellers.
* Note: These ideas came to mind while watching a number of far-out-there Congressmen working on destroying our democracy and blaming it on everybody else. If you have additions to this oath, I would be happy to publish them in an upcoming issue of Savvy. – Jim
© Copyright 2023, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru®
Get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder, jel@e911.com.

Jim Lukaszewski – Snap Wisdom #2

During the First 120 MinutesActivate Your Crisis Response Checklist

  1. Stop the production of victims.
  2. Tend to the victim’s needs.
  3. Communicate frequently internally.
  4. Alert those outside your organization who are directly affected.
  5. Call your insurance company.
  6. Have an experienced crisis communication consultant nearby or on board.
  7. Hire an attorney competent to the situation.
  8. Call your Mom, do what she says, and things will get better by tomorrow afternoon.
  9. Deal with new media, old media, critics, bloviators, bellyachers, backbench complainers, and survivors.

Jim Lukaszewski – Snap Wisdom #1

Snap Wisdom #1: Truth

  • 15% Facts and Data
  • 50% Emotion
  • 35% Point of Reference (where you or the victim were when it
  • Too many facts and too much data humiliate victims, makes
    them angry, deaf, and search for an attorney.
  • A single victim tear, especially in front of a jury or on television,
    can wipe out more data, and smart experts than you can possibly