Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, January 18, 2017
It's no longer crisis as usual for United Airlines, or anyone else. Live social media posting has changed what you can get away with in a crisis -- forever.
It used to be that if an airline made as monumental a mistake as United Airlines just did by causing a paying customer who had done nothing wrong to be dragged off a plane screaming, bloodying him up along the way in front of all his fellow passengers, they might still have gotten away with it.
After all, on a plane, passengers were basically incommunicado, so people couldn't have protested easily, and they might not have been believed, especially if the airline denied it or called it an "overreaction." The populace tends to believe its leaders in these situations, if compelling evidence to the contrary doesn't exist. It rather makes one wonder about how many times such a debacle has happened before, and just not been caught on video.
But today all that changed. Live footage of the assault of an innocent passenger by security personnel was captured and immediately posted on social media around the world, instantly making United one of the most hated companies in the world. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, January 18, 2017
When you look closely at what triggers crises in organizations, you often see that there is a major leadership oversight or blind spot that has allowed the crisis to exist in the first place – and then grow, unrecognized, until it's too late. Just as many leaders want to be perceived as trustworthy in a rapidly changing environment, leaders themselves need to be aware of who and what they are trusting. Misplaced trust is a clear precursor to trouble.
As businesses look toward the coming year, here is a deeper dive into common crisis triggers, so that management teams and boards can recognize hidden risks and danger zones within their organizations. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, January 2, 2017
2017 is the perfect time to learn some new leadership and coping strategies for the battles ahead -- in business, politics, war, and life.
Last year we found out just how wrong we can be in our collective assumptions -- and how much we don't know about what others are thinking, or doing behind the scenes.
Whether it is because the Internet allows us to only hear from people who think like we do; polls relying on "Big Data" can be wrong; we are convinced of the wisdom of the crowd, even when the crowd is being manipulated; or we are just plain gullible -- it is time to realize that leaders need to listen to and learn from those who think differently from them. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, April 4, 2016
When you're not at the table, you're on the menu, former Governor of Texas Ann Richards used to say. She may have been referring to politics, but this is equally true in the worlds of business, academia, and nonprofits.
The biggest decisions about your career are often made when you're not in the room. Whether it's a decision about if you'll be hired, promoted, or fired; whether you are put forth by a headhunter to a selection committee and then asked to join a corporate board or become a university trustee; whether you make Managing Director or are passed over; are awarded tenure; or offered the CEO slot, your professional fate is often determined in closed rooms where people are talking about – and evaluating – you, without the benefit of your input. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, February 8, 2016
We all have a little Martin Shkreli in us. That unrepentant 2-year-old voice we've spent a lifetime burying deep within, every so often comes screeching out: I won't be good; I don't want to do what everyone tells me to do; Nobody understands me; I won't be quiet or go to my room, I'm just going to wail – so there.
And we all, occasionally, wish we could let our worst natures out at work: Congress, you're imbeciles; Boss, you're wrong – and a jerk – and I quit; Colleagues, stop pandering to the boss and get a life; Shareholders, you are SO gullible...
Perhaps this is why we are so fascinated by Shkreli's shenanigans – if you can call moves to raise a life-saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750 a shenanigan. But he's young and a little cute, and we keep feeling that, unlike Donald Trump, there may be some hope left for this guy if he can just get his head on straight. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, August 31, 2015
How do we become more resilient leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, parents, people? Here's a quick checklist, informed by new brain research:
Resilience is a concept that exists in almost every culture around the world: the ability to bounce back from adversity, from whatever setbacks life deals you, in order to come back and conquer another day.
Resilience has been the Holy Grail for those individuals or organizations that have gone through crisis and adversity and want, literally, to "get their lives back."
But while it has always been known that some people, and some organizations, recover better than others, new brain and behavioral research is now shedding some light on why. Even better, it is showing that we can cultivate resilience in ourselves before we even need it. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, August 17, 2015
"Never get into a car with a stranger" my mom told me throughout my childhood. "Don't trust your safety to someone you don't know really well, and even then be vigilant, because they may not have your best interests at heart the way we do."
But how does this old-school advice jibe with the Airbnb, Uber, "sharing economy" generation who are driven by unlicensed strangers and stay in people's — who they don't know — homes around the world? What happens when your Airbnb host turns into Norman Bates? (Or your guest turns out to be the Zodiac killer?)
It is indefensible how ill-prepared Airbnb, Uber, and a host of other high-flying, trust-based sharing companies are for crisis, and customer and provider protection when trust goes awry. It is equally shocking how unprepared their trusting customers and providers are when they realize their trust is misplaced.
"Trust is hard won but easily lost," the saying goes. But in the new sharing economy, it actually might be the exact opposite: trust is too easily given, and too hard lost. And the lessons, to individuals as well as companies, are tough ones. So, what lessons should companies, and the consumers who patronize them, learn? [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, August 6, 2015
When a crisis hits, how you respond in the first 15 minutes can make or break your organization – and your reputation.
While we all know that crisis management training is critical for leaders and boards today, much of it still tends to be shopworn, focusing on the lessons of yesterday. The new climate of ultra urgency is rarely emphasized sufficiently.
Yet I have found that in those first 15 minutes of a crisis your response must be exactly the right message, delivered in exactly the right words, to the right audiences, in just the right way – or you will have to deal with your mistakes for days, weeks, even months to come.
Immediate response and indelible accountability – that's a tall order for any leader. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, April 30, 2015
Have you noticed how the world is getting meaner and meaner? Not just over social media, prime time television, or the legislative process, but everyday — as authority becomes less trustworthy, and attacks against leaders, as well as anyone who seems "different," turn more personal, ugly and destructive.
If I don't "like" what you have to say, or you disagree with me in any way, I can take to Yik Yak, or almost any social media platform, and anonymously damn you to hell and back. Or worse. [...read more]
Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, October 8, 2014
We see it every day in our headlines: as crisis has become a new global norm, the board's responsibility in crisis is changing rapidly.
No longer is plausible deniability acceptable, either for boards or for management. Corporate and nonprofit boards alike are expected to know of problems that are brewing deep within their organizations. And they are expected to act upon that knowledge swiftly. The public, shareholders, and media are holding boards responsible for corporate missteps as never before, and therefore the role of governance leading up to, during, and after crisis is transforming as we speak. [...read more]
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