Sometimes we just want to erase crises.

Sometimes we wish we could erase a crisis.

Recently I had the distinct honor of spending one hour on the phone with “America’s crisis guru”™, Jim Lukaszewski. I had recently wrapped up some crisis communications work for a client and eagerly wanted to do more. After listening to Jim on a recent webinar about the Brian Williams scandal, I decided to “learn from the master.”

Here’s what Jim shared about crisis communications (which he defined as “people stopping, reputational stopping, show stopping, product stopping, victim creating and sometimes high profile work.”)

1. Call it Readiness Review. No boss every wants to believe they will have a crisis. Generally speaking they are correct. As Jim says, true crises, such as violence in the workplace or an executive caught in an untruth are few in number. So ask the boss “What are you ready to handle? What are you not ready for?” Make a list of things that can be done better.

2. Tell a Story. Jim said that stories are the second most powerful way of learning. What’s the lesson in the story? Boil down the lesson into teachable elements like numbered lists.

3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes. Say something that matters to the other person from their perspective. Remember, it’s less and less about “me.” Focus on the person. Be interested in them and their perspective.

4. All Problems are Management Issues. Is it a management/leadership problem or a followership problem?  No one knows the business like the boss – it’s their business. What are the options? Communicators are really option providers as opposed to solution providers as some professionals call themselves.

5. Ask Good Questions. What would the boss tell his/her mother? Jim said most great leaders have a close relationship with their mothers. That’s why this question is one of Jim’s favorites. No doubt it brings any matter to a simple truth. It’s certainly one question we could all use in business more often.

What are some actions you would add in a “readiness review?”

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