Sometimes, things go terribly wrong. A real crisis or tragedy. A reputation-changing event. So often those involved make matters worse by forgetting an important rule. Over time, we are willing to forgive people, even companies, for the incident. But we never forgive them for the response.
In a crisis, your response defines your credibility. When the response is competent and displays integrity, people get past the incident and view those involved as still believable and trustworthy.
However, when we respond poorly, people never forget. The response comes to define us. It’s a modern day fact that most leaders lose their jobs, careers and livelihoods not because of a poor choice, but because they cover up or lie about what happened.
Famed Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant liked to say it this way: “In a crisis, don’t hide behind anything or anybody. They’re going to find you anyway.” They always do.
Remember that, no matter how horrible the incident, it is your response that defines who you are as a leader.