Wednesday, June 09, 2010

“I Would Like My Life Back”

My guest blogger today is John McInerney, Vice President, at Makovsky + Company.

“The first thing to say is I’m sorry,” Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, told reporters, when asked what he would like to tell locals whose livelihoods have been affected the by the oil spill. “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.”

Many words have been written about this gaffe. It’s one thing to have compassion for those who are suffering because of what went wrong (a good thing), but as a CEO it’s over the line to equate your own loss of control with others who are affected.

First, Hayward signed on for the possibility of ‘losing control’ by taking the job as CEO. Gulf residents just expected to show up for work. Second, control—or the appearance of it—is essential for leaders to remain credible. This slip shows how easily control can vanish and how hard it can be to get it back.

Hayward clearly made the comment because he was fatigued. Obviously, any extended crisis will fray nerves and requires stamina. If you’re an executive in a crisis, check yourself for battle fatigue because weak moments get preserved online. You have to rise to the occasion, no matter how you feel. Even if you’re not in a crisis, presenting while fatigued can cause inadvertent and potentially irretrievable errors.

Technorati Tags: BP Global, BP plc, oil spill, Tony Hayward, U.S. Department of the Interior, offshore drilling, Gulf of Mexico, crisis, communications, public relations, Makovsky


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