Crisis Communication: Are You Ready to Meet the Moment?

May 2022 | Leadership

business communication

It’s more than two months into the war in Ukraine at the time of this writing, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s response to the U.S. offer of evacuation (“I need more ammunition — not a ride”) still exemplifies his leadership. The defiance, resolve, and presence of mind it expresses evoke historic wartime communications while also demonstrating authenticity. In other words, Zelenskyy met his moment perfectly, “fundamentally transforming the situation through communication,” says Wharton management professor Maurice Schweitzer. “If he had flown out of Ukraine and created a government in exile and allowed everyone to flee, Ukraine would have been quickly transformed by Russia, and Western leaders would likely have responded very differently to his requests for aid.”

For business leaders, who can reasonably expect some sort of crisis during their tenure, the good news is they don’t need Zelenskyy’s honed telegenic and oratory skills to meet their own moment well. Crisis communication doesn’t need to be perfect to be highly effective.

Schweitzer says the key is preparation. “It’s like a fire drill,” he says. “You can and should prepare for a crisis. If you don’t, the tendency is to become very self-focused, and, as a result, you can make perspective-taking mistakes when you communicate.” 

Read the original article here