Crises make reputations — or destroy them
By Noémie de Andia, Partner – Financial Services, Consumer and Technology
We are starkly reminded of this fact of life as we anxiously consume daily Covid-19 briefings and one-off interventions of political leaders from around the world. Our increased need for information is only matched by our need for reassurance. Fundamentally we want to know whether the people in charge are competent and we have been using daily testing numbers and death statistics as benchmarking evidence of whether we believe this to be the case or not.
Crises are essentially a test of leadership. They provide us with an easy one-dimensional way of appraising which government or business is performing better through the lens of how they are managing the crisis. Leaders can be easily compared and ranked with a level of clarity that is not usually so immediately available, and strong communications skills under stress can make or break a reputation in an instant.
Most crises put a single leader or group of leaders in the spotlight; the current climate represents a near-universal examination of their ability to respond.
Duty bound to act
Business resilience in this environment is being severely tested. Whether companies are managing the crisis for survival or are part of the “war effort”, their responses to the crisis are being intensely scrutinised and will be remembered for years to come. This is particularly true for the financial services industry whose reputation was severely damaged during the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and the subsequent public bailout.
This time the industry has a chance – some would say a duty – to act and repay this public support by being part of the solution, through the actions they take today to help individuals and companies emerge intact.
More generally, business leaders have long been expected to step up for “a more caring form of capitalism”. Arguably this unprecedented enforced shutdown is giving them an opportunity for change as they are challenged to put the health and security of their employees and the broader community first. As this shock highlights the central role of government in our societies and redefines the relationship between governments, businesses and ordinary citizens, capitalism’s response to this crisis will be what matters.
Lasting societal change
In the longer term, crises brings us all a chance to reconsider who we are and what we value and can serve as catalysts for lasting societal changes. We should anticipate that more prominent business leaders will be expected to use their positions to take a leadership role in bringing significant societal change through their companies and charitable activities. Some are already rising to that challenge.
In the immediate term, businesses will be judged by the way they manage the crisis; their level of preparedness for such a shock; the success of their processes under stress; and critically, the quality of the communication by their senior team.
To hear more about this and how good crisis communication in the face of adversity can build long-term trust with stakeholders, restore brand reputation afterwards and ultimately increase shareholder value, please join us for our online webinar next week: Effective communications in a crisis: when theory becomes reality
Through insight, case studies and best practice, this practical webinar – run in partnership with Financial Services Forum – will help you:
- Develop guiding principles for effective crisis communication
- Consider how social media will impact your response
- Anticipate how a crisis situation could develop
- Understand which stakeholders will be most valuable to you – and what they need from you
- Understand how a growth mindset can make you more resilient.
Speakers: Jen Upton, Head of Business Resilience
Noémie de Andia, Partner, Financial Services, Consumer and Technology
When: Tuesday 28 April, 14:00 to 14:40
Where: Online webinar