Jim Wisdom #42: The Boss’ Most Crucial Roles in Crisis

The Boss’ Most Crucial Roles in Crisis

Few problems are crises. But all crises are serious management problems. Preplanning executive actions can avoid career-defining moments. Include specific executive expectation instructions in all plans and response scenarios.

One of the more powerful weaknesses in crisis response is the lack of specific roles and assignments for top management. The result of this crucial gap in crisis management planning is the mismanagement, lack of management, or paralysis that afflicts crisis response efforts. This defect occurs all too frequently in plans I review, responses I analyze, and scenarios I explore
with client companies.

In the course of directing a client’s crisis response, analyzing past responses to crisis, or developing powerful response strategies, it’s clear to me that crisis response promptness and effectiveness depends on having five essential responsibilities spelled out carefully in your crisis plans for the CEO (or surviving leaders):

  1. Assert the moral authority expected of ethical leadership. No matter how devastating or catastrophic the crisis is, in most cultures’ forgiveness is possible provided the organization, through its early behaviors and leadership, takes appropriate and expected steps to learn from and deal with the issues. The behaviors, briefly and in order, are:
  • Candor and disclosure (acknowledgement that something adverse has happened or is happening) Share response strategy.
  • Explanation and revelation about the nature of the problem (some early analysis)
  • Commitment to communicate throughout the process (even if there are lots of
  • Empathy (intentional acts of helpfulness, kindness, and compassion)
  • Oversight (inviting outsiders, even victims, to look over your shoulders)
  • Commitment to zero (finding ways to prevent similar events from occurring
  • Restitution or penance (paying the price – generally doing more than would be
    expected, asked for, or required)