How to keep a high level political position under control as a mainstream business

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As a market leader, taking a stand on a particular issue can either make you a martyr or a beast, depending on the opinion of your customers. In either case, you need to be sure that you are fully aware of all the consequences that will follow your announcement on a particular issue and be prepared to support your decision all the way.

Take the recent announcements from Delta Air Lines and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Both have spoken publicly about their position on a high-profile political issue and have made it clear where they draw a line in the sand. Subsequently, both companies garner support, as well as backlash, from their opinion which may or may not be detrimental to their business in the future.

Below, 13 members of Forbes Coaches advice share their thoughts on how leaders can exercise caution when taking a stand on high-profile issues. Here’s what they recommend:

All images courtesy of the members of the Forbes Council.

1. Be comfortable with discomfort

You are the leader, and all eyes are on you. It’s awesome. Until it doesn’t. Some of your decisions will be diamonds, sparkling in the eyes of employees and the media. But some will be rocks, threatening to quickly sink your credibility. It’s your job to make decisions, so feel comfortable knowing that sometimes you will make mistakes. And when you are, take a deep breath, share what you’ve learned, and decide again. – Darcy eikenberg, Red Cape Revolution

2. Quantify your risk

Nowadays, it all depends on the impact of your actions on the bottom line, livelihoods and morale of the people who work for you. When you can justify a decision that considered all of the risk factors, there will be support during the times of consequence. – The Kisha Greenwade, Lucki Fit LLC

3. Live your values

Take a stand on an issue consistent with your brand, your displayed values, the expectations of your employees and customers. And expect some people to disagree. Be prepared to lose them as customers. Note that a value is not something you believe in, but something that you are willing to apply. – Helio Fred Garcia, Consulting group in logos

4. Make sure the timing is right

Timing is the key here. When dealing with a high-profile issue, make sure it’s impacting your business, assess all the facts, and then make your decision based on those regarding how it will affect your business and / or your employees. Avoid taking a stand too quickly and waiting too long because the audience will already have made a decision about you and what kind of leader you are. – Valerie Martinelli, Valérie Martinelli Consulting, LLC

5. Act in silence

Taking a stand requires action, but not necessarily a statement. The old idiom, “Actions speak louder than words”, holds true in a very busy environment, especially a political one. If you (or your organization) have taken a stand on a sensitive topic, a review of the policy manual or an update to the website may be sufficient. If more is needed, you can take care of it if and / or when it comes. – Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Lead by a living community

6. Remember, it’s about customers, not politics

Leaders need to remember that their primary obligation is to deliver quality products and services to their customers, and lead their teams in that direction. Even if they feel strong emotional attachments to certain issues, they cannot guide entire companies to reflect those feelings if it interferes with their ability to deliver a great product. – Jared lafitte, Lafitte Coaching

7. Steer public relations in a positive direction

When tackling high-profile issues, there will always be pros and cons, as well as people who support or oppose your position. The best way to handle this is to quickly explain why your business made the decision you made and point out the positive aspects of the decision. When you take a stand on controversial issues, you need to garner public support and gain positive press. – Lori Manns, Group of quality media consultants

8. Do your homework

Each problem must be approached with diplomacy and thoughtfulness. Look at all the facts, read all the information available, and make executive decisions accordingly. Don’t be afraid to turn the system around (as Delta and Dick’s Sporting Goods did) when you know your decision is the right one for our company, not necessarily your business. In the end, you will have done the right thing. – Krista rizzo, Why am I screaming? Life coaching

9. Don’t be afraid to be polarizing

I don’t think the answer is to withdraw from the controversy as a business leader. Honesty, integrity and bold action win the hearts and minds of those who follow your work. Not everyone will like you no matter what you do. Make sure you and your business are standing up for something. – Amanda Francoise, Amanda Frances Inc

10. Know your audience at work

One of my favorite places to joke and talk politics? This is my home, and until Amazon or Google invades my house and spreads my silly comments for the world to hear, I usually don’t take a stand on issues, corporate or purely political, outside of it. of the House. Unless it is related to my job or part of the conversation I need to have with a company or individual client, I am abstaining. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

11. Make sure you have an effective voice.

It is important to have a voice. There is a difference between a voice and a noise. To make sure your voice is effective, take three steps: (1) Educate yourself on all aspects of the problem. (2) Identify how / why your position aligns with your business (and your personal values). (3) Come from a place of passion and logic. Now you are ready to move on. – Michelle braden, MSB Coach, LLC

12. Stay true to your brand message

As a CEO, it’s tempting to mix up your personal thoughts and message with your brands, and unfortunately the two may not sync. Instead of jumping on the latest social or current topic of discussion, stay in your swimming lane. Talk about things that impact your business, your customers, and even your industry. Leave your personal feelings at home and stand up for your brand’s core values. – Jeanne McGinnis, Happy mentor

13. Be respectful of all opinions

Part of a leader’s capital consists of taking a stand on issues. How strong we stand is up to us. Our respect for others with divergent opinions differentiates the most effective executives. Almost everyone believes they are “good” in their positions on the issues. Asking questions, recognizing the answers and seeking to understand are excellent techniques for very sensitive problems. – Evan roth, Roth Consultancy International, LLC.


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