Home » Articles written by experts » Lead with Trust in Crisis: The CEO Formula


Crisis management has become a complex field with highly paid specialists who counsel CEOs.

A CEO who leads with trust will find a reputation blow to be softer, and the recovery much easier.


First, let’s look at the central attributes of a crisis

  • It has the potential to do significant reputational damage
  • It will hurt at least one group of stakeholders- consumers, shareholders, employees, etc.
  • It is unique and often unpredictable (although not always)
  • It is of interest to the media


Now let’s look at the 5 essential short-term measures the CEO who leads with trust must take:

  1. In the first 24 hours communicate widely and communicate consistently
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Tell it accurately
  4. Tell it fully
  5. Tell it yourself


And the 5 essential long-term leading with trust measures:

  1. Accept responsibility
  2. Take long-term corrective action, not a short term band aid
  3. Address any systemic problems
  4. Rebuild broken bridges
  5. Continue to communicate openly


It’s not rocket science, but usually the missing ingredient is trust, and that’s what keeps the crisis consultants and specialists in business.

We devote an entire section to Leading with Trust in Crisis in our new book:

Trust Inc, Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset 

Trust Inc.

Trust Inc.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World.

She welcomes your comments and suggestions.

Email her at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

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One Response to “Lead with Trust in Crisis: The CEO Formula”

  1. January 14th, 2014 at 17:35 | #1

    Fortunately I am not currently at an organization experiencing a crisis, but I have led through them. Your points on communication from the top are well stated and a good blueprint.

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