Being that this is my 10th year as CEO of Red Shoes, Inc., I could list hundreds of things that I have learned over the years, but there is a lesson that stands out above the rest: just because you are a CEO, doesn’t mean you are meant to be a leader.
A leader needs to have the ability to motivate the people around them. Through the good times and the bad, or when a crisis hits, a true leader needs to continue to be the face of the company. It is your responsibility first and foremost. You are the only one that can take control of your brand’s reputation. Just because you are a CEO doesn’t mean you can delegate someone else to be the face of your brand. Rather, you are the brand.
For a variety of reasons, people are put into CEO positions they might not be ready for but they accept the position because the title “CEO” sounds nice. That title is put to the test when the worst happens to your organization, are you ready to lead? During a time of intense pressure, CEOs either rise to the occasion or fail. There’s not a lot of gray area. When you were hired, the expectation is that in good times and bad, you are the captain of the ship. If you are not in a crisis currently, you have time to get your act together. If you are currently in a crisis, it’s time for you to pull it together.
Here are some expectations for you to consider as a CEO preparing for a crisis:
-This is the age of transparency, you cannot hide.
-Proactive communication is a must. It’s not enough to let others do the talking for you.
-Communicate the message, even if it’s a tough message to deliver, in a compassionate way.
-Listen and demonstrate that you are listening.
-Show compassion. People expect their leaders to act with empathy.
-You might not have all the answers but follow-up however you can.
-Demonstrate leadership through not only words, but with your actions as well.
-When you don’t confront situations head-on, people make their own conclusions without your perspective.
-Ask those you trust if your leadership needs some work. Better to find that out now than when your organization is experiencing a bump in the road.
Leadership on a good day is challenging. Leadership during a rough patch is defining. Let your definition be a positive one.