In the business world that can't happen. It shouldn't in the presidential realm either, but I don't have any influence there. But in the business world I can speak to how this affects employees, customers, neighbors and friends and everyone we interact with. Two days of silence over the biggest national issue at that moment. Should not happen.
So how does this translate to the business world? What can business owners take from this tragic event and our president's reaction to it as they consider how to deal with their own critical issues and unfortunate customer situations? Let's consider...
Be swift when responding to negative issues. Don't disappear. No true leader hides his head in the sand when things go bad. React quickly and decisively. Be bold. If something is wrong with a product or service, do not be passive or dismissive or try to blame others. Take ownership and take corrective action quickly. You'll be respected for it. Trust me.
Be honest and open in your responses. No BS. People can see through that. When the chips are down most people know when you are being sincere. If your opinion is unpopular, you still need to go with that - at least it's showing leadership and control of the situation. But hiding and failing to respond or giving a wimpy response is worse than no response at all. If a customer wants something for free and you know it's going to cost them $5,000 then tell them. Better to get the train moving forward than to string them along with false hope. I've dealt with enough clients who have wanted my services but couldn't really afford to pull the trigger. It would have been far better to clarify that upfront to me than to string me along for six months wasting my time providing them with information, samples and phone calls. It happened just today with a customer I've been negotiating with off and on for 13 months. Today the CEO – with invoice in hand – says they don't have budget available for the work after coming to an agreement on price offerings and services at least five times in the past year. That's a year I can't get back.
Extended silence only causes growing concern. When something is big, respond. Consider things carefully of course, but two days for something big is far too long. You need to take in as much information as possible but when the most powerful man in the free world says he was taking time to collect and consider the facts that is BS. It was an unfortunate situation where someone died at the hands of a crazy man terrorist. That's an easy and quick response. If a customer, employee or investor or whatever has something big - no matter if it's your fault or within your control or if you don't even hardly know or like the person - respond with concern and interest. Respond. Communication is key and the lack of it shows no leadership at all.
The bottom line is this - how we respond to bad issues, negative information or tragedy often defines who we are - at least in the eyes of others. And when you are a small business owner that can affect you negatively or positively for a long time to come. Especially in this day of real time news and feedback. People expect 24/7 awareness so you will never get yourself off the hook saying you were collecting facts for two days. It just won't work.