Thought Leadership–Forbes “Reputation Matters”
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, March 4, 2020
So, it’s here. We now have a public healthcare crisis in front of us that is already disrupting global markets, businesses, and lives, and has the potential to do much more damage. Or not, depending upon who you are, and what and who you believe.
Just as with the climate crisis, while the facts are the facts, how we respond to the COVID-19 crisis says more about who we are, and how we lead, than it does about the crisis itself.
So, it’s probably a good time to begin recasting more generic crisis management rules into a specific set of rules for our current challenge. Whether the current Coronavirus crisis is ever dubbed a pandemic or not, we surely need to develop some advanced thinking on how to deal with it.
Following is a new set of 8 pandemic ‘best practices,’ for your consideration. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, September 24, 2019
Conventional wisdom used to say that in a jam, a leader had to make a decision, any decision, and then stick to it. Waffling, indecisiveness, or changing one’s mind was considered to be weakness. True strength came in just deciding something, anything, and standing by it right or wrong.
Nancy Pelosi has just demonstrated the courage it takes to change one’s mind – with the whole world watching. After months of vigorously resisting her own party’s calls to start impeachment proceedings against the President, she abruptly changed course, and announced she was commencing impeachment proceedings immediately. Based on new evidence showing the President had asked a foreign power to do something that was in his own partisan interest, she flip-flopped; she waffled; she changed course. […read more]
Great Crisis Management is Counter-Intuitive: That’s Why Boeing, Wells Fargo Are Getting It So Wrong
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, April 7, 2019
It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, especially for huge companies facing huge problems. But too many companies, like Wells Fargo and Boeing, are getting it all wrong time and time again.
The stakes for their failure – doing the wrong things in crisis and not understanding why – are too high. And consumers, investors, partners, and stakeholders are suffering the consequences. Why the blind spots? Why the inability to get it right when crisis hits?
Why Companies Are Getting Crisis Response So Wrong
The core reason that so many big companies, who should know better, fail in crisis is because the best crisis management is counter-intuitive, sometimes even illogical, and they absolutely do not understand that.
So they listen to the wrong people, consider only partially the impact and ramifications of their actions, ignore emotion or the zeitgeist of the moment, reflexively make the wrong decisions, dig themselves into holes, and then are loathe or incapable of digging themselves out again. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, February 11, 2019
Sometimes it takes the richest man in the world to bring down a bully; sometimes, the Speaker of the House. But this is what heroes are made of.
Lately as a nation and world we’ve been idolizing a lot of adult bullies. We’re not talking about the schoolyard anymore: From reality TV shows like The Apprentice (“you’re fired”) and Survivor to the White House and the National Enquirer — we seem to like our power misused and abused — taking advantage of those weaker, poorer, kinder, in trouble, or with a disability or two. Compassion seems to have flown out the window as survival of the nastiest prevails.
This does a number on our soul, of course. But few people — including religious figures — have been able to turn it around. Until Jeff Bezos and Nancy Pelosi. Both hugely powerful, rich (mega rich in Bezos’s case) and successful in their own rights — they are charting a roadmap for how you can challenge a bully and win. So whether it’s the current president or his tabloid-publishing buddy, or your boss, co-worker, client or relative, here are some new ideas on how to publicly vanquish a bully. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, February 8, 2019
Phoenix-like, Jeff Bezos has risen from the ashes of bad decisions to make a great one. He is showing us — individuals, CEOs, Board Members, and other leaders — how to stand up to bullying and extortion — when he has everything to lose by doing it.
Perhaps it takes the richest man in the country, or someone who has been accused of bullying himself, to have the self confidence to put it all on the line. But he is modeling a bold kind of leadership we haven’t seen for a while.
Boards choose and keep CEOs not just for the insight, oversight and strategy they provide in business as usual – but how they lead through the firestorm.
And every organization has firestorms.
But not every CEO has the self-assurance, courage and backing to do the really, really tough — but right — thing when it all goes south. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, November 30, 2018
Not everything that Facebook has done lately is wrong. So, let’s try to sort out the prudent from the feckless before we all jump on the “kill Facebook” bandwagon. Due Diligence vs. Opposition (Oppo) Research Organizations commission in-depth research on their competitors and perceived adversaries all the time: it’s called due diligence. In fact, it could be argued that a company or non-profit is not doing their job if they don’t seek to understand deeply those who invest in them, comment on them, compliment them, and criticize them. That is simply looking for more information, motives, ulterior motives, and doing the proper due diligence that their stockholders and stakeholders would expect them to do. Good strategy would dictate that they can not be expected to fly blind in a firestorm, if they can help it. On this level, there is absolutely nothing wrong — in my opinion as someone who has been active in creating public strategies for private and public organizations for a long time — with Facebook’s commissioning “oppo” research into George Soros after he excoriated tech companies at Davos. You know what: every good professional would, or should have, done the same thing. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, November 16, 2018
Wall Street’s Investment Bankers used to be called the Masters of the Universe, but that seems so last millennium now. As the mantle of unbridled self-confidence and ego has moved westward, many new “Tech Masters” have surpassed their predecessors in over-confidence, over-estimation of how powerful they are, and in how badly they can get things wrong. Crisis, of course, ensues.
Facebook showcases the whole issue. Every industry and every generation feels invulnerable as long as everything is going their way. And the behemoth that Mark Zuckerberg built has led the pack. But when a fall from grace comes, as it has come for Facebook (through their own mistakes says yesterday’s blockbuster New York Times article Delay, Deny, Deflect: How Facebook Leaders Leaned Out in Crisis), it shakes the world. At least the cyber world, and all who live or visit there.
Crisis demands the ability to see clearly, the humility to admit mistakes readily, and the courage to do whatever it takes to fix those mistakes immediately. If you can’t do this, you are committing one or more of the 7 deadly cardinal sins of crisis management. Facebook, it turns out, has committed all 7. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, September 14, 2018
What would have happened last year if—upon hearing of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment debacle and forced exit from the company he created—CBS CEO Les Moonves had decided to take a radically different path?
What if—knowing that a police report was being filed against him, and that news of it and other abuses he had never admitted to was inevitably going to come out in the current environment—he had chosen to come clean instead of continuing to stonewall? In fact, what would have happened if he had come clean long before?
While this is not the crisis advice one would necessarily give, as the #MeToo movement marches on we need to find some new strategies not only for curtailing abusive behavior, confronting it and making reparation but also for potentially modeling how one might recover honorably. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, September 12, 2018
Just in case any of us thought that the #MeToo phenomenon was a flash in the pan, the ouster of CBS CEO Les Moonves and 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Faber, the latest high-profile public figures to be felled as the movement continues, has proven otherwise. As our tally of public figures accused of sexual harassment, or other #MeToo violations, continues to climb, the mighty and the mousy, the sacred and the profane are being called to account. The numbers tell us that the movement has both momentum and staying power.
Les Moonves makes 700, and Jeff Fager 701. […read more]
Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, May 14, 2018
Real #MeToo incidents in the workplace aren’t happening in a vacuum. Whether they are the most egregious examples of sexual harassment and abuse, or more subtle acts of unconscious bias, they all happen within a culture that somehow sanctions them.
New Examination of Corporate Culture
That is why the reputational risks of #MeToo (we calculate that since the first Bill Cosby trial, 298 high-profile executives have been let go in the US because of sexual improprieties), as well as escalating global calls for gender equity, are sparking a whole new examination of corporate and organizational culture. What elements of culture enable abuse, or create a toxic work environment, and what elements preclude them? […read more]