Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taking Responsibility Can Prevent a PR Disaster

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about a situation in my personal life that has to do with the importance of leaders taking personal responsibility and being accountable.

This same principle applies to business as well. Regardless of the type of business, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, real leaders take personal responsibility for whatever situation arises in their organization — just like Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca did in 1987.

He apologized to his company's customers because they were not told cars were tested while the odometers were disconnected. Not only did he acknowledge the problem and express regret, he did what he could to make it right when he gave 40 owners of Chrysler cars damaged in testing new vehicles and owners of 60,000 tested cars two extra years on their warranties.

These types of PR strategies and tactics help make the best of a bad situation and prevent further damage.

Unanticipated problems and mistakes happen to all of us. We don't always make the best decisions. Or we take actions that we later regret. That's a big part of life and how we learn. It applies to both our business and personal lives.

How do you typically respond? Do you immediately assume responsibility or wait until your back is against the wall and then step up? Do you look for ways to solve the problem and then enact a plan? Or do you get upset, blame others and fail to look at your role in the situation?

The following tips were provided in an online article* headlined “Leadership in a Crisis — How to be a Leader,” adapted from a Wall Street Journal column by Bill George, author of “True North” and former CEO of Medtronic.

• Face reality. Leaders can't solve problems if they don't acknowledge their existence.

• If there are sacrifices to be made, leaders should step up and make the greatest sacrifices themselves.

• Leaders must have the help of all their people to devise solutions and to implement them.

No company, nonprofit organization or individual wants to deal with a crisis. Taking responsibility, acknowledging the problem and devising a plan that addresses the situation with integrity and truth will help prevent a PR disaster.

So the next time you’re faced with a problem, whether in business or your personal life, remember the old adage, "Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it."

*Read the entire article here, http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/how-to-lead-in-a-crisis/.

Doreen Poreba, APR, is an accredited public relations professional with more than 25 years of experience on both sides of the media fence in both PR and journalism. She is the founder of The PR Czar® Inc., a full service PR agency serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches and now with the Internet — the world!

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