Making Crisis Management Look Easy

Crisis Management is something you need to prepare for and simultaneously truly cannot. The emotions, thoughts and physiological pressures that engulf people in a crisis are impossible to replicate.

Knowing I needed to spend some time considering how to react and perform in a crisis, I decided to spend my weekend auditing a Crisis Management class by HKU Professor Ray Baker.

The class covered several cases from Apple to Cathay Pacific, Mariott to Malaysian Air. It also delved into Transformational Leadership and EQ, which I always think play a big role in directing any team, crisis or not. But my favorite part of the class was the speaker who came to talk about Crisis Management on Saturday, Craig S. Smith.

As a leader at Marriott, Craig has seen crisis. He has been on the front line for natural disasters, terrorist attacks and data hacking. He talked to a group of hungry and tired MBA students and kept us enthralled for over an hour with tale after tale that all somehow magically wrapped back around perfectly to the points he was making. As he was speaking, I couldn’t help but feel that there was so much to take away and learn that was not part of the content he was sharing. He exuded poise, confidence, empathy and humbleness. On almost every topic or question he admitted he and/or Marriott could have done better. Mistakes happen: take responsibility and move forward. Learn from the experience and try to see it coming next time.

His deck’s main focus was centered around these four points:

  • Prepare & Practice
  • Focus
  • Trust
  • Review & Learn

He repeatedly emphasized the benefits of being mentally prepared, being empathetic, and giving more than necessary in an attempt to create goodwill. It was an honor to hear him speak and have him share some time with us. As a growing leader, I feel lucky to have had a glimpse of his leadership skills, demeanor and thoughts on crisis management to now emulate.

I hope to have the opportunity to learn from more business leaders soon, but unbeknownst to them, they will have some very big shoes to fill.

Thank you, Craig.

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