No CEO wants a disastrous situation to occur at their company under their watch, but unfortunately corporate crises happen. And whether or not you are directly responsible for the situation, your face is the one that is splattered throughout the press. It’s the CEO’s job to know how to rectify the situation whether it is a union strike or an oil spill. A CEO’s ability to solve a crisis can make or break their career, and so it’s important to take the time to understand what a corporate crisis entails, and how you should deal with it.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed three current CEOs for their views on how chief executives should deal with a corporate crisis. Here is their list of how to avoid or cope with a major problem:
- Do extensive homework before joining an employer: before signing on to lead a new company make sure to do your own research; current execs may be downplaying internal issues to you and you don’t want to be stuck with any surprises down the road
- Resist the desire to quit: you can’t be on the fence about leading the company through the crisis – either you will or you won’t, so figure it out early on (but you should probably stay)
- Learn to cope with high anxiety and scant sleep: crises will mean a lot of work and late hours, often for a prolonged period of time; learn to live with the stressful lifestyle, but make sure to make time for your personal life
- Surround yourself with highly-trusted colleagues: new leadership teams can be honest with you about the problems that are going on and how to fix them
- Seek regular feedback from your informal network: mentors are important in keeping perspective on the situation, so make sure you get guidance
- Keep careful records about your crisis management: by documenting how you dealt with the crisis you are creating a manual for yourself at future companies or in future situations