• Şebnem Gürün Özeren

Put the Oxygen Mask First to Your CEO, Then to Your Employees

Updated: Sep 20

We are going through turbulent times. The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting organizations in an unbelievable way, testing the leaders of companies and organizations in every sector around the world.

The leaders should be strong, mindful to assess the current information, define the situation and make quick and right decisions to sail their ship.

As equally important, they need to engage with all the stakeholders through effective communication: Sharing the status with shareholders, giving brief to stock market, answer urgent calls from key accounts, make instant town hall meetings with employees and so on.

But in order to do all these communications in a consistent manner, you need to put the oxygen mask first to your CEO, your crisis management teams, your leaders; then to your employees…

CEO’s, C level Managers also have basic needs and emotions. They can be frustrated, they can be angry to some stakeholders, they can be worried on not knowing what to do…

  • Work with them one to one and coach them in order to normalize and accept their feelings and reach to their inner strengths to manage the situation.

  • Before they go for any communication, make a rehearsal with them. Body language + tone of voice is 9 times important than the words used. See if the content of the talk and what the body says consistent with each other. If not, work on it together until you reach the consistency.

  • Be the Jeanne d’Arc of consistency, transparency, trustworthiness. Continuously warn them to give false, too optimistic information. Make them feel good about ‘not knowing everything’. Support these leaders to reach their sincere-selfs.



Even the information you would share is something that people will not be very happy, let them learn it from the leader. Nothing will be kept secret in crisis environment. If you hide and loose the trust of your employees, they will never trust you again.

Let the consistency, transparency, trustworthiness be with you in these hard days.

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