Boris Johnson’s handling of crises holds lessons for business leaders

Business leaders can often learn crucial crisis management lessons from how other people in the spotlight deal with their crises. The latest example is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has announced that he will resign when the Conservative Party appoints his successor.

“Dozens of Boris Johnson’s cabinet ministers have resigned in the past 24 hours as a series of scandals finally dumped the prime minister. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson said it was a “painful moment” and stressed he had struggled to avoid it.

The influx of resignations began Wednesday morning with Health Minister Sajid Javid and Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak. The final straw was the revelation that Johnson had appointed Conservative MP Chris Pincher to his cabinet despite being aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against him. According to Axios, Pincher resigned two weeks ago after new charges were brought against him.

Boris Johnson: “they are the commas”

According to Forbes, Boris Johnson said it was strange to change governments when they had “such a broad mandate” and offered “so much,” but admitted that in politics, “nobody is necessary.”

“Although it is sad to give up the best job in the world, these are the hard blows,” he added. “In Westminster, the herd instinct is strong,” he said. “When the herd moves, it moves.”

What not to do during a crisis

Partigate’s case, this self-crisis was an example of what not to do during an emergency. Crisis management and public relations experts have shared their observations of Johnson’s handling of the crises that led to his resignation.

Boris Johnson’s resignation “provides excellent examples of what not to do as a leader during a crisis,” according to Moshe Cohen, who teaches leadership, negotiation, and organizational behavior at Boston University’s Koestrom School of Business.

“In a crisis, people want to know that they can trust their leader, and their actions have undermined that trust. A leader must be present during a crisis and must provide the organization with clear, consistent, and honest communication. This is true for business leaders who manage to A business crisis as it is for political leaders.”

Identify red flags

There are two lessons to be learned from Johnson’s resignation, Tristan Lemonnier, director of crisis communications for Europe at APCO Worldwide, said via email.

“First of all, after being immersed in an ongoing state of crisis and controversy over the past few weeks and months, the British Prime Minister and his team seem to have lost the ability to identify the red flags that would set off this kind of chain of events,” he noted.

“This obviously prevented them from implementing corrective actions quickly enough in the hours leading up to his resignation as party leader,” Mr. Lemonnier commented.

self-crisis

Second, his resignation was not caused by a single event but by an accumulation of mishandled controversies that led to a gradual loss of support and a consistent pattern of defense that was not sustainable in the long run. This has reached a tipping point over the past few days, but from a crisis communications perspective, this is a subjective death.”

Telecommunications

“There is no doubt that Boris Johnson handled the situation that led to his resignation very well. He got stuck in an ostrich and did everything a crisis communications advisor told you to do,” Andy Barr, co-founder and CEO of US digital marketing agency 10 Yates, said in a statement.

Johnson “did not address public opinion, did not respond to the comments of MPs, did not refute any of the false accusations, and therefore, he was probably not at all aware of the seriousness of the plots against him.” Bar guessed.

two golden bases

“The two golden rules for dealing with a crisis are to always work hard to bring the narrative back to your goal and always put full disclosure at the center of your approach,” Riley said.

Johnson’s government has never had a target. He noted that the phrases ‘end Brexit’ and ‘start work’ were just tactics and did not bring stability to communication.

“Favoring tactics over strategy in crisis communication is always hype before defeat. And frankly, I have never seen a Prime Minister’s PR go so poorly,” concludes Mr. Riley.

The importance of people and the message

“The main lessons Prime Minister Boris Johnson has learned is that your strength depends on the people you surround yourself with and that consistency of the message matters,” Josh Wilson, chief publicist at Otter Public Relations, said by email.

“It is difficult to assert that you have done nothing wrong even when your closest advisors do not want to associate with you. When it comes to communications during a crisis, it is also critical that leaders and their teams develop and adhere to a specific mission or strategy.”

Wilson noted, “In Johnson’s case, he often used different talking points than some of his senior ministers, which is the quickest way to get public attention and undermine confidence.”

Get the right advice

“Unfortunately, instead of quickly getting the situation under control by acknowledging an error of judgment and a roadmap for corrective action, Johnson’s team repeatedly backed off when they had multiple opportunities to show conviction,” said Nika Itunero, Bevel’s senior director of public relations, by email. . .

She noted that “the UK Prime Minister’s crisis highlights the importance of a good lawyer – one who can help weather headwinds, weather adversity and ultimately help leaders maintain public trust.”

Know when to leave

“Leaders need to know when is the right time to step down in favor of the organizations they represent. An ineffective leader who lacks support — whether from clients, board members or political voters — cannot be effective,” said Debra Caruso, president and owner of DJC Communications. It only hurts their organization.

“For Boris Johnson, this organization was a force in the world, one of its largest and most influential. She added that the last months of his rule represented the lost time for England, a farce.”

Article translated from the American Forbes magazine – Author: Edward Segal

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