After days of headlines about his tax affairs Nadhim Zahawi was finally sacked from the UK Government. He had attempted to cling onto his role despite the growing criticism and in accepting the removal from the Cabinet still refused to apologise and made a parting shot at the media. It has been another example of poor handling of a reputational crisis with a slow and lacklustre response.
Despite our best efforts to avoid crises happening they will still occur. What matters is how we deal with them. Speed of reaction remains a key element to any response which is why I continually advise people to prepare, plan and have communication processes that allow swift action. Waiting for days to react creates further damage to organisations.
In some situations the events are so horrific that the action that should be taken is clear. In America, the Memphis police unit where the five officers who beat Tyre Nichols worked has been disbanded. The video of that incident was so shocking and it is understandable that is sparked the protests that have been seen. This action should be the starting point for further significant reform to start on a long road to recover the lost public trust.
The leadership of all organisations should consider what they would do in these difficult circumstances. If they get caught up in a crisis will they stay and sort it out or will they make way for someone else in a bid to maintain confidence? If they have an employee that commits a crime or behaves dishonestly how will they react? Will they follow due process or will they act quickly? And in all these circumstances what will they be saying to staff?
All too often the work that is done on crisis management focuses on the systems and processes rather than the ethical dilemmas. The frameworks are important but cannot give you an answer on the ethical dilemmas that you will face.
We now need crisis management and communication that is developed within organisations to include scenario planning for these moral challenges. Leaders need to be decisive in their action as well as to show the personal integrity that will help manage the crisis. It is a non-negotiable as it comes with the job description, the responsibility and the role as a leader.