3 Tips to Avoid Your Tony Hayward Moment

Linda Dulye's picture
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Not long ago, chances are you couldn't name the CEO of BP. That all changed on April 20 when BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. Suddenly, Tony Hayward became a household name -- and not for good reasons. As the disaster unfolded, he made remarks that were viewed insensitive and seemed unable to instill confidence in the public's view of him and his company.
 
Dulye & Co. encourages leaders to get out from behind the desk, leave the handlers behind and talk frankly with employees and key stakeholders. Here are three tips for avoiding a Hayward Moment while being an upfront, engaging leader:
  • Know how to blend. What you wear can set the tone for how employees view you. Don't wear a suit to a place with people wearing coveralls. Don't arrive in a helicopter, drive a low-key rental car. In other words, blend into the background, not walk around like a neon sign.
  • When you arrive, ask open-ended questions. You can show employees that you've done some homework before arriving by asking specific, non-confrontational questions about events, activities or programs at the facility. Create a dialogue and capture employees' interest by showing that you care enough to learn about what it is they do -- and how it impacts the organization.
  • Treat the event like a learning experience. Visiting your company's factories or offices, go in knowing that you're about to meet your company's subject matter experts on many areas. Take every opportunity to listen to them. These employees are often the closest to your product, service and customers, and they have expertise you might not.

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