The former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic shares his view from the top that business leaders like him must own up to mistakes gracefully in case they occur. A lot of CEOs’ reputations erode due to faulty or lack of apologies. A case in point is that of the CEOs after the environmental disasters resulting from activities of Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon in 1989 and 2010 respectively. A similar case is that of Uber Founder Travis Kalanick whose talent management abilities came into question after his note to employees following the faulty handling of a disparaging video that went viral. Volkswagen has CEO Michael Horn has also been criticized for the faulty handling of the 2015 emissions test scandal where he put the blame on a few engineers rather than owning up. In contrast are the examples of Johnson and Johnson’s James Burke and General Motors’s Mary Barra in 1982 and 2014 respectively. In both cases, while they were not personally at fault, they apologized in public for a flaw by the companies they led. The brands thus returned stronger than before. Instead of covering up, CEOs must be prepared to offer honest apologies. Promises to never repeat also rarely work as such accidents can admittedly happen again. Instead of responding only during crises situations, companies must proactively try to prepare and keep a plan for such exigencies.


Uploaded Date:14 December 2017

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