Sunday, July 12, 2009

Character, Values & Integrity

I've spent a great deal of my career counseling clients in the area of crisis communication - both in the preparation phase and in the heat of dozens of crises themselves. While it's always interesting to look at the various to-do-lists which attempt to offer guidance for managing a crisis successfully, I've found that what separates the best from the worst in crisis responses comes down to character, values and integrity.

When I was a kid, I remember someone describing integrity as what you do when no one else is watching. For example, would you cheat at solitaire and tell others you'd won even though no one could ever prove you wrong? What I've learned is that integrity isn't about what you'd do when no one is watching, it's what you will do when everyone is watching - your employees, the news media, shareholders, etc.

In 1943, before Johnson & Johnson went public, Robert Wood Johnson authored the famous credo that serves to define J&J, not in terms of what they do, but who they are. More recently, Michael Dell spearheaded the drafting of a document titled The Soul of Dell, which sends a clear message that "how" Dell achieves success is just as important as realizing success itself.

If you really want to prepare for crisis, take a close look at the character, values and integrity of your organization and its leaders. While it may be politically more inviting to offer a checklist of "what to do if...?", resist the easy route and take a page from Jim Collins' book Good to Great - look at WHO before WHAT!

1 comment:

  1. Good points Leo. You really do need to look to your company’s values to determine the best course of action for YOUR COMPANY in handling a crisis situation. Rarely is a one-size-fits-all solution the best, rather it will vary based on what your company stands for. Looking to your companies values will help you operate in a consistent manner in a time when it’s easy to stray due to panic.



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