Truth and Morale in Turbulent Times


I found myself on my radio show on Saturday, tucked between a renowned business consultant-and-writer, and a CEO of a successful public relations firm. We were talking about executing and leading in these tough times, and they were in remarkable agreement.

Ram Charan, co-author of Execution has just published a new book Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty. He had time to squeeze in two points. The first was cash, cash, cash – in these times you have to watch your cash. This is true of companies and true of individuals. When assets are not liquid, banks are not lending, customers may cut back on you, attention to cash is vital.

The second point he made was that you have to communicate, communicate and communicate some more. There is so much rumor and fear, so much misinformation out there, that you can’t afford not to tell folks what’s up. I asked, “Doesn’t that kill morale even more – especially when there is some bad news out there?” “No,” Charan insisted, “Bad morale is caused by misinformation and fear…People can confront distress when they have facts, clarity and specificity, the more people know the source of the difficulty.”

Kelly Rossman affirmed that the core advice she gives to her PR clients in “crisis management” is: get the facts out there, be clear and specific. Where mistakes have been made, acknowledge them and move on.

People want their leaders to solve problems – to attack the market, bring out better products, etc. But they also want their leaders to keep them up to speed, to give them an accurate picture, and to tell them where they can help. If you’ve been avoiding some tough news, put trust and confidence back in your workers, by communicating with directness and specificity to

Lead with your best self,