Soft Skills

These 3 Great Leaders Show Us How to Tackle a Crisis Situation Efficiently

There are leaders who lead. There are leaders who guide. There are leaders who empower others, but there are very few leaders who are able to manage a crisis situation and lead a team through it.

The crisis is a sudden occurrence of unplanned and unexpected events that causes instability within an institution which leads to a major disturbance among the individuals who are a part of that institution. This institution could be a family, profit/ non-profit organization, educational body or any other organization that works as a team. A team leader, head of the family or CEO of an organization plays a very important role in managing catastrophic situations.

Here are some examples of excellent leaders who not only managed the crisis, but also restored the organization’s image.

1) Mary Barra became the first lady CEO of General Motors in 2014. She attained a mark of two months and the company faced a disastrous situation. The news was that GM had sold 1.6 million cars with faulty ignitions for more than 10 yrs. Due to this defect; more than a dozen lives were killed. Through a PR activity, Marry Barra took complete responsibility for this crisis. She apologized by saying, “something went really wrong and terrible things happened.” Though media initially criticized this move of hers. Later on, media started making statements like “Barra shows her human side” and “that’s what a leader should do”. One might wonder how did this happen. Barra took the corrective action at the right time and the way she did it changed everyone’s mind about her work. The Huffington Post published an article on her saying, “GM’s Barra Leads from the Front.” The New York Times wrote a piece on her initiatives saying, “GM Chief Steps Up to Handle Safety Questions.” In 2015, she was listed number one in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s list.

Moral: Leaders motivate and say, “Together we fall, together we rise”, but here is a leader who takes complete accountability for the actions committed by the company as a whole. She had shown courage to take the blame and responsibility to resolve the issue from its root.

2) In 1993, PepsiCo came into limelight with a news report saying that a syringe was found in a can of Diet Pepsi in Washington State. CEO Craig Weatherup and FDA were very confident that this claim is a rumour. Therefore, Craig personally came in front of the national television with visual evidence that proved, he was right and the news was fake. This visual proof was a surveillance tape showing a woman inserting a syringe into a can of Diet Pepsi. He made his PR team produce a series of videos that showcased how the soda canning process worked.

Moral: Weatherup’s trust in his product and the fact that the company made him strong to investigate and produce evidence helped PepsiCo restore their image. This example of excellent leadership shows that a leader must trust his organization in the crisis situation and must take aggressive stands wherever required. In this way, Craig successfully suppressed the rumours and the sales were recovered within several weeks.

3) In 2003, Cadbury found itself tangled into a hurricane when many people from Mumbai found worms in their Dairy Milk Bars. Bharat Puri, the managing director of Cadbury India, took control immediately and improvised the packaging in order to stop further infestation. The company invested Rs. 25 Crs in order to upgrade their machinery and packaging. Even the 5 Rupee bar had a double packaging. All types of Cadbury Bars were first wrapped in aluminium foil and later enclosed the bar in a ploy-flow pack which was sealed on all sides. In order to, improve their Brand Image they signed Mr. Amitabh Bachchan as their brand ambassador. A high profile TVC was produced showcasing Amitabhji visiting the Cadbury plant, inspecting the process and finally consuming a chocolate bar. The company made a comeback and the sales were restored successfully.

Moral: The Company had pride and dignity in itself, even though its spotless image faced a disaster in which the company was responsible for the infestation. However, Mr. Puri took immediate actions and took a lead to manage the crisis. He led and found a way out to deal with the crisis.

These stories indeed teach us a lot about leadership. If we wish to make better leaders for the world to work peacefully, learning from great leadership examples and implementing leadership practices from the beginning is necessary.

Don’t you wish to become a leader that stands by his/ her team and manages a crisis situation efficiently?

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