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 the 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 these catastrophic situations.
Here are some examples of excellent leadership who not only managed the crisis but also restored the organization’s image.
- 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. It came across in the news 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 a complete responsibility of this crisis. She apologized by saying, “Something went really wrong… and terrible things happened.” Though media initially criticized this move of hers, but later on, the same media made statements like “She showed a ‘Human Side’ and that’s what a leader has to do”. 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 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.
- 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. The CEO Craig Weatherup and FDA were very confident that this claim is a rumor. Therefore, Craig personally came in front of the national television with visual evidence that proved, he was right and the news was wrong. 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 company made him strong to investigate and produce evidence that 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 rumors and the sales were recovered within several weeks.
- 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 Rupees bar had a double packaging. All types of Cadbury Bars were first wrapped in aluminum 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 Amitabh Bachchan as a 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 who had a pride in itself for its spotless image faced a disaster in which it was responsible for the infestation. But 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.