Mary was the subject of a caustic media blitz. As President of her college, she was a well-known and acknowledged leader in the community. She had done her job well over the years …or so it appeared. But, a sudden crisis revealed an undercurrent of which she was unaware and caught off guard. It had to do with accusations by students of sexual and racial improprieties. The accusations ended with stories that embellished incidents even beyond the truth. Though in simpler times, the situation might have been handled with appropriate measures and justice for the aggrieved students, it all went viral and Mary’s career and legacy ended in disgrace and the college in a position of digging out of a demoralizing crisis. A flyer developed and distributed by a consultancy seeking crisis management clients urged others to get “safe” now because “if it could happen to her, it could happen to you.”
True story? Yes. Deserved? It doesn’t matter. Whether unduly harsh or not, Mary’s fate has been sealed by having been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion that not only ended her career but resulted in a setback for the college at a critical time.
Could this situation have been avoided? The bottom line is that you should not wait until the crisis happens before developing a plan to manage it. But, that is only one step on the road to safety. The long view is often the best. It all starts with developing strong leaders who are passionate about the mission and on constant lookout for baby snakes under the rug that can grow into boa constrictors before you know it. Start now to develop not only your leadership skills but those of all team members including and beyond the C-Suite.
Workforce trends tell us that in the bewilderment of the world today, each member of your team, no matter their position, is seeking meaning that extends seamlessly from personal life into the workplace. Take advantage now of an opportunity to engage your team in the 4P process — understanding Purpose and core mission, being Prepared and gaining greater understanding of micro and macro trends, appropriate Planning and finally acquiring the Perspective of leadership that results in solid and ethical decisions increasingly facing us on the frontlines of our lives whether in work or play.
As far back as when President Lyndon Johnson asked a janitor what he did at NASA was a reply more relevant than today. The reply from the janitor? “I helped put a man on the moon.” Whatever you call it, remember one thing – we all want to help put that man on the moon.