No Guts, No Thank You

January 23, 2019

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There is no time more telling about the health of a company’s values then when an issue or crisis lands at the door. Whether a product fail, an executive misconduct, or a service break down – it’s surprising how many seasoned decision makers are paralyzed on what to do.

In these moments, the absence of action turns a company culture into fear, uncertainty and doubt quicker than the smell of burnt popcorn from the breakroom. And, with the pressure on, leaders look for shortcuts and worse – resort to cover-ups, denial and repeat offenses, which we all know can ruin companies, careers and even lives.

Truth is, many leaders are out of shape and lazy when it comes to exercising company values. Without frequent conditioning, they disregard the company values and make short-term decisions based on internal pressures, pressures from the street and/or the media.

Instead, a company should train for, and embrace, opportunities to demonstrate their values. The values should be aligned to the best interests of the customers and employees, integrated into the company’s ethos and pressure tested often.

Companies with strong values produce effective decision makers. Executives that work to these core values focus less on what happened and more on the solution. They have the wisdom of what to do AND the guts to do it.

The good news is that we are seeing a transformation among executives who are leading with values. This is especially on display this week at the World Economic Forum where many leaders are holding events that display why they do business and how they address real-world problems such as human rights, homelessness and mental health.

The companies that train their executives to embrace values will be protecting their relationship with consumers. In fact, FleishmanHillard’s latest Authentic Insights global report, Navigating Zero Gravity, finds that 47 percent1 of consumers are less likely to purchase from companies believed to behave in ways that conflict with their values.

Ultimately, consumers accept that machines break, systems fail and judgments lapse.  It’s how the company reacts and executives decide to address these problems that will define the consumer’s next purchase.

Emily Frager leads FleishmanHillard’s Southern California operations and has counseled many great brands during not so great times. You can contact Emily here.

¹TRUE Global Intelligence. Authentic Insights Survey. 2018. https://fleishmanhillard.com/