Archive for the ‘Crisis Management’ Category
Worth Reading: Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication: What Your CEO Should Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management
However far I may be able to see, it is because I stand on others’ shoulders. And there’s no set of shoulders that has allowed me to see as far and as well as Jim Lukazewski’s.
I’ve had the good fortune to know and work with Jim for more than 25 years.
Even as America mourns and tries to make sense of Friday morning’s massacre in Aurora, Colorado, there are some lessons emerging on appropriate — and inappropriate — response to tragedy.
Context Drives Meaning
Context drives meaning. Words, actions, or events that are perfectly appropriate one day may be wildly inappropriate, distasteful, offensive, or even inaccurate the next. One key discipline for leaders and organizations is to continuously adapt to changing circumstances that may alter the context in which communication takes place.
The shooting that left 12 dead and 58 wounded in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater is such an event.
Two years ago yesterday BP CEO Tony Hayward inadvertently got his wish when, in the thick of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he told a press conference, “I want my life back.” He was sacked soon thereafter. In the battle for public opinion – for trust, support, the benefit of the doubt – Hayward lost. It was a failure of leadership on a massive scale. And it began with a failure of communication. And that failure, in turn, was a failure of discipline.
Hayward’s blunder is not unique to him. It should be a wakeup call to CEOs and other leaders, to all whose leadership responsibilities require inspiring trust and confidence verbally.
Whatever else leadership may be, it is experienced publicly. While it may emanate from within, it is a public phenomenon. And however technically proficient someone may be, if her or she does not communicate effectively, he or she will not lead well. Communication has power. But as with any form of power, it needs to be harnessed effectively or it can all too often backfire.
In 33 years of advising leaders on the actions and communication needed to win, keep, or restore public confidence, I have concluded that many leaders, much of the time, fundamentally misunderstand communication. This misunderstanding has consequences: corporations lose competitive advantage; NGOs find it harder to fulfill their mission; religious denominations lose the trust and confidence of their followers; nations diminish their ability to protect citizens and achieve national security goals.
Today SmartBlog on Leadership published an excerpt from The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, starting with Mr. Hayward’s blunder, and moving from there.
The full excerpt is published below.
General Management, Inspiring Others
Leadership communication isn’t about saying things; it’s about taking change seriously
By Helio Fred Garcia on June 1st, 2012
Tony Hayward, then CEO of BP, told the media in 2010 that he wanted his life back. He got it, but not in the way he intended. His quote was part of an ineffective attempt to show he cared about the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.
The full quote: “I’m sorry. We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. And you know we’re — there’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back.” But the back end got all of the attention. He had stepped on his message.
It was the beginning of the end for Hayward. He was out of a job a few months later, having lost the trust and confidence of those who mattered to him. His blunder was a failure of leadership on a massive scale. And it began with a failure of communication. And that failure, in turn, was a failure of discipline.
A burden of leadership is to be good at communicating. If you can’t communicate effectively, you will not lead. But there’s a paradox: Unlike most other skills a leader needs to master, communication seems to be something leaders already know; they’ve been communicating their whole lives. So leaders often are unaware of their communication abilities, or lack thereof, until it’s too late.
Harnessing the power of communication is a fundamental leadership discipline. Effective leaders see communication as a critical professional aptitude and work hard at getting it right. And getting it right requires becoming strategic as a first resort: thinking through the desired change in the audience and ways to make that happen. And then making it happen.
Effective communicators take change seriously: They ground their work in moving people to be different, think differently, feel differently, know or do things differently. Effective communicators also take the audience seriously. They work hard to ensure that all engagement moves people toward their goal. That means caring about what the audience thinks and feels and what it will take to get the audience to think and feel something else. It means listening carefully to the reaction, adapting where needed and not saying things that suggest they care only about themselves (I want my life back!).
Effective communicators also take words seriously. They know that words trigger world views and provoke reaction. They plan engagement so the right words are used to trigger the right reaction. Effective communicators also know that the best communication can be counterproductive if it isn’t aligned with action. And effective communicators take seriously the need to package all that an audience experiences — verbal, visual, abstract and physical — into one powerful experience.
The Discipline of Effective Leadership Communication
Six questions to ask before communicating
Effective leadership communication never begins with “What do we want to say?” but rather with a sequence of questions. An effective communicator always begins by asking questions in a certain sequence.
- What do we have? What is the challenge or opportunity we are hoping to address?
- What do we want? What’s our goal? Communication is merely the continuation of business by other means. We shouldn’t communicate unless we know what we’re trying to accomplish.
- Who matters? What stakeholders matter to us? What do we know about them? What further information do we need to get about them? What are the barriers to their receptivity to us, and how do we overcome those barriers?
- What do we need them to think, feel, know or do to accomplish our goal?
- What do they need to see us do, hear us say or hear others say about us to think, feel, know and do what we want them to?
- How do we make that happen?
Over the past 8 months I have had the good fortune to spend time in Beijing, Paris, Zurich, and Marrakech, Morocco, speaking with leaders of governments, the military, religious institutions, humanitarian organizations, universities, and other social institutions.
And in my travels I detected something I hadn’t noticed before: a meaningful deterioration in the regard with which the United States is held. Not about particular events, but a general decline in respect and admiration. Not of Americans, but of the nation’s role in the world.
I’ll blog about this more later, but Sunday’s New York Times has a series of pieces that prompt me to revisit those observations and also to use them as a teachable moment to illustrate some key principles from my latest book.
Now Available: The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively
I am pleased to announce that The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively is now in circulation!
Worth Reading: The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively
Friends, I’m very pleased to announce the pending publication of my new book, The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively. It is being published by FT Press/Pearson.
The formal publication date is May 6, but pre-orders are available now for both print and e-books, individual or bulk orders. E-book versions will be available April 26 directly from FT Press. Amazon says that pre-ordered books should be received by customers in New York by May 9. Bulk orders at a discount can be made at CEO Read.
At least so far, March is acting more lamb than lion here in New York City, but we’ll see what the rest of the month brings.
- WikiLeaks: The first of a new set of emails obtained by WikiLeaks was released last week, with additional analysis from news organizations expected in the coming weeks.
- Boycotts, Reputation and Bottom Line: With boycotts a recurring topic, this research from last fall caught our eye this past week: professor Brayden King at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University showed that “the stock price of a targeted company dropped nearly 1 percent for each day of national print media coverage.” In addition, he found that “even if consumer behavior was unchanged by a boycott, a company’s stock price and reputation were not.” In addition, “25 percent [of boycotts generated] a concession from the target company.”
- Limbaugh and Apology: There were ample examples of apologies and corporate statements surrounding the Limbaugh controversy this past week, including from Limbaugh himself, and former advertisers Carbonite, ProFlowers, Citrix, and others.
- Facebook Assessment Tool: We’re fans of the US Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment, a helpful tool in evaluating online content, and were pleased to see this new Facebook assessment worksheet and checklist from the US Navy on evaluating strategy, administration, content, measurement and more, on David Rosen’s blog.
- Newspapers and New Business Models: Newly released research from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found “for every $1 gained in digital, $7 are lost in print revenue,” highlighting the challenges many newspapers face in implementing new business models today.
I have just returned from two weeks of teaching in China, and it has gotten me thinking.
“The nicest thing about not planning is that
failure comes as a complete surprise,
rather than being preceded by a period of
worry and depression.”
Sir John Harvey-Jones
The catastrophic loss of the Deepwater Horizon rig on the Macondo well seemed to come as a complete surprise, especially to those who were closest to it. It shouldn’t have.
Last year I blogged that the seeds of the Deepwater Horizon explosion were planted well before April 20, 2010.
The verdict is now in on the BP disaster: The sequence of mis-steps that resulted in 11 people killed and millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico was the result of a failure of leadership and management on a massive scale.
“Plan for what is difficult when it is most easy,
do what is great while it is small.
The most difficult things in the world must be done
while they are still easy,
the greatest things in the world must be done
while they are still small.”
The Tao-te Ching, or The Way and Its Power
Lao Tzu (604-581 BCE)
Let’s simply stipulate that BP’s response to its disaster in the Gulf is shaping up to be the new standard for mishandled crises.
We’ll continue to harvest how-not-to lessons from BP as long as Tony Hayward continues to talk, the oil continues to flow, and beaches, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, and livelihoods remain at risk.
But what are the deeper lessons?
I believe the key is this: The seeds of what happened after the April 20 explosion were planted well before April 20.
To harvest the most meaningful lessons from BP requires us to look at the sequence of events leading to the fire, explosion, collapse of the rig, death of 11 workers, and the surge of oil into the Gulf.
Prevention More Important Than Response
However important getting crisis response right may be, crisis prevention is even more important.
BP got both spectacularly wrong.