Crisis Leadership

After deadly outbreak, a gutsy rebound

January 16, 2015

Founded in 1927, Maple Leaf Foods enjoyed a long run of success as a Canadian food processing company. But in 2008, some of the firm’s luncheon meats proved deadly. Due to a contaminated Maple Leaf plant in Toronto, a Listeria bacteria outbreak claimed 21 lives. CEO Michael McCain suddenly faced a huge crisis.

Tap humor when you need it most

November 5, 2014
During nearly 5½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Lee Ellis relied on his sense of humor to keep him going. But it took his first three months in captivity for him to recapture his ability to laugh. Then 24, Ellis recalls the first time he flashed his humor as a POW.

Speed and deftness matter in a crisis

October 23, 2014
Sony once demonstrated the wrong way to handle a crisis.

Use questions to teach vital skills

August 12, 2014
Just six days before the now-famous hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, Captain Richard Phillips held a surprise security drill aboard his ship. He wanted to test his crew’s ability to defend against a pirate attack.

Amid 9/11 tragedy, an email hits home

June 25, 2014
Responding to a crisis tests a leader’s fortitude. Your ability to reassure employees and help them cope with fear and uncertainty can solidify your standing.

Rise above rival’s petty moves

February 26, 2014
Walt Disney’s optimism inoculated him from much of the scheming and betrayal that he faced as a young entrepreneur. When others tried to muscle him out of business, he sought creative solutions.

Facing disaster, exec keeps it real

October 10, 2013
Masao Yoshida was chief manager at Fukushima Daiichi power plant for only nine months when a 42-foot tsunami hit the plant two years ago, knocking out cooling systems for its six reactors. His story reflects the best any of us could do as leaders in crisis.

CEO turns tragedy into branded giving

September 24, 2013
Employees of Boston-based apparel company Life is Good asked whether they could do something to raise money for the victims of the bombings that occurred at this year’s marathon. CEO Bert Jacobs’ first response was no but he soon changed his mind. “We’re a brand about the power of optimism,” he says. “We should be leaders of the spirit when bad things happen.”

UPS looks back to go forward

August 16, 2013
In the late 1990s, UPS executives realized that the company’s model wasn’t working. To explain large-scale innovations, they turned to breakthroughs of the past: from bicycle deliveries to trucks, from ground service to air freight, from paper tracking to a web-based system.

Fend off tough questions from media

May 7, 2013
Before you give a live media interview, prepare to answer questions on your terms. Rehearse what you’ll say if you’re challenged to defend yourself or your organization.