Tag Archive for: Forbes

On Friday, May 5, 2023, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia was quoted in an article on Forbes on how leaders can enhance their executive decision-making skills. Decision-making is an essential skill for leaders to succeed in their role. The Forbes article features several tips for leaders on how they can hone their ability to make tough decisions in a timely manner from 16 members of the Forbes Coaches Council, of which Garcia is a part.

Garcia’s recommendation for leaders on executive decision-making: Agree Upon a Clear Criteria with Lawyers and Others.

“Many of the notorious crises of the past few decades are characterized by leaders making poor decisions under stress,” Garcia explains. “In high-stakes situations such as crises, executives should resist making decisions based on personal preference. Rather, they need to have clear criteria on how to decide what to do, when to do it and how to do it that is agreed upon in advance with lawyers and others.”

Read the full article here.

On Thursday, May 19, 2022, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia was quoted in Forbes on how leaders can ensure they are making the right decision for their organization. Garcia was one of 16 members of the Forbes Coaches Council who offered advice on this subject.

Garcia’s advice to leaders on effective decision-making: Gain Clarity On Criteria And Desired Outcomes

“Leaders, especially those in crisis situations, need to resist the temptation to make choices based on personal preference. Rather, they need to have clarity about the criteria they will use to make such choices, based on desired outcomes,” Garcia explained. “Strong decision criteria and clearly defined desired outcomes create conditions for successful decision making and make a leader habitually strategic.”

Read full article here.

The following is a guest column by Helio Fred Garcia, originally published on Forbes on October 19, 2021.

In mid-September the United States passed a tragic milestone: one in every 500 Americans had died of Covid-19. By early October, it was one in every 469 Americans. And counting …

For decades in my crisis management practice, I have preached that the severity of an underlying crisis does not determine how the crisis turns out. Two organizations in the same crisis at the same time can have dramatically different outcomes. Rather, the timeliness and quality of the response determine whether or not an organization suffers a catastrophic outcome. Act effectively and quickly and the crisis resolves or plays out with minimal damage. Delay or dither and things get disproportionately worse.

It is uncommon for multiple organizations to go through the same crisis simultaneously. But Covid-19 is a crisis with which every organization around the world has been grappling. We now have experienced a kind of laboratory experiment of how different jurisdictions responded to the pandemic differently. We can track the different outcomes. We can learn from them. And we can apply those lessons, not only in the continued pandemic response but in future crises, as well.

Crisis Management Works

All the trends point to a common conclusion: Crisis management works. But only when we manage the crisis effectively. Failing to follow crisis management principles can have devastating consequences. There are three rules that lead to the successful resolution of a crisis:

1. Take the crisis seriously.

2. Take the risks seriously.

3. Mitigate those risks.

We can see clearly how the death rates in different jurisdictions were different based on leaders’ adherence, or lack of adherence, to these rules.

A Tale Of Two Nations: Republic Of Korea And United States Of America

On January 20, 2020, the U.S. had its first confirmed Covid-19 case. That same day the first confirmed Covid-19 case was recorded in South Korea.

Unlike the U.S., South Korea took the crisis and the risks seriously. Six years earlier, it had been burned by its mishandling of a public health emergency that had led to dozens of deaths and that had almost brought down the government. Not this time: No dithering, denial or delay.

Initially, South Korea had the highest Covid-19 death rate outside of China. But its leaders quickly worked to mitigate the risks. They launched a whole of government response. In particular, South Korea followed all the mitigation guidelines that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised. These included mandatory masking, distancing, quarantines, contract tracing and testing. And it worked. Infection and death rates plummeted and have stayed low.

The United States did not take the crisis or the risks seriously, nor did the U.S. act to mitigate the risks. President Trump and his allies persistently denied or downplayed the reality of the virus.

The United States never had a whole-government response. And the nation never consistently followed CDC guidelines. In 2020, leaders, including the president, rationalized away the risks. They failed to model safe behavior, even including the wearing of masks. They continued to have large unmasked gatherings. And the pandemic itself became inexorably tangled into the politics of a presidential election, with large numbers taking sides about the reality of the virus itself, a disturbing trend that continues to this day, nearly a year after the election.

But public health experts have been sounding the alarm about the risks for more than a year. Last October, Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness concluded that of the 217,000 American Covid-19 fatalities to date, as many as 210,000 could have been prevented by taking appropriate precautions. At the time the U.S. had the highest Covid-19 rate among peer countries. Korea had the lowest.

At about the same time, the venerable New England Journal of Medicine said that the U.S. had failed at every step to take effective mitigation steps and said Americans were dying because of a leadership vacuum.

In February 2021, the British medical journal Lancet noted that as many as 40% of American Covid-19 deaths could have been avoided.

Even after the vaccines became widely available, the seeds of distrust and division continued to hamper mitigation efforts, especially in states whose governors forbade mask mandates and where vaccine hesitancy prevailed.

By late September 2021, American deaths had surpassed two round numbers — one in 500 Americans, for a total of 700,000 deaths. Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs noted that if the U.S. had done what was necessary to keep the death rate the same as our peer countries, 650,000 fewer Americans would have died.

So, what is the current Covid-19 death rate in South Korea compared to the U.S.? One in every 20,000 South Koreans, compared to one in every 469 Americans.

South Korea followed the three crisis management rules:

1. It took the problem seriously.

2. It took the risks seriously.

3. It did what was necessary to mitigate those risks.

The United States did not. The difference: American Covid-19 deaths are at 42 times the rate in South Korea. Most American fatalities were preventable, especially after the vaccines became available to anyone willing to take them.

We see at the national level dramatically different outcomes to the common crisis. There are many lessons we can harvest from the tragedies — including the dangers of misinformation and of political polarization of science. But the crisis management lesson, devoid of politics and ideology, is clear: In a crisis, take the crisis seriously, take the risks seriously, mitigate the risks fully. The outcomes will be far less devastating.

On March 30, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen was quoted in a Forbes article on the new approaches to DE&I that companies are taking. The article outlines the current state of diversity and inventories the way that current DE&I approaches fail to achieve sustained diversity and inclusion.

Shen, who teaches a course on Elevating Multicultural Competency in the Professional Development and Leadership program at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, made the case for why diversity matters to corporations.

“The reason we want people of different gender, race, and age at the table is because their unique experiences,” Shen explained.

Read the full article here.

On January 19, 2021, Logos Associate Holly Helstrom was quoted in a Forbes article about the struggle many organizations are facing around COVID-19 vaccination policies. The article details how companies are split in terms of whether or not to require employees to get the vaccine respectively.

Helstrom, an Adjunct Instructor at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering who teaches a course on First Amendment rights for employees, explained that an employer has the legal right to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine policy if they’re a private sector at-will employer.

“Refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccine if your employer is requiring one could get you fired and your employer would be within their legal rights to do so,” said Helstrom.

Helstrom advised organizations to use its values to guide vaccination decisions. “Having clarity on one’s values, whether from the employer or employee perspective, can make the decision easier,” she said. “If individual liberty is more important to you than job security, your decision when navigating this question as an employee will be much easier.”

Read the full article here.

The following is a guest column by Helio Fred Garcia, originally published on Forbes on March 27, 2018.

“You can’t handle the truth!”

So said Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessup in Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men. He thus offered one of the many justifications leaders often give for lying. This is sometimes also called the Santa Claus defense: It’s OK to tell children that Santa is real because it has a very positive outcome, and kids are not sophisticated enough to appreciate the truth.

The idea that some lies are OK recently became the subject of public discussion when former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, in a closed hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, was asked whether she lied for the President. According to news accounts, she conferred with her lawyers and then admitted she had told “white lies” – inconsequential lies – for the president.

Of course, one of the dangers of justifying dishonesty by saying the lies are inconsequential is that people then question whether those lies really are inconsequential. Is that statement itself further dishonesty? Like with cockroaches, when we see one, we may assume that there are many others around too.

For 30 years, I have taught ethics in graduate business and communication programs and in schools run by the U.S. military. And one of the stickiest problems leaders in business and other disciplines face is handling the truth and its opposite. How much should leaders share with their teams? Do leaders need to tell all they know? Is withholding the truth the same as a lie? Leaders can, in good faith, grapple with these questions while avoiding dishonesty.

What Is A Lie?

Dishonesty is toxic. And there are many forms of dishonesty. For example, for publicly traded corporations, failure to disclose a material fact that a reasonable investor would consider important in making an investment decision can be a violation of the securities laws.

But what is a lie? In general, a lie has four parts:

• It is a statement of fact.

• It is false.

• It is known by the speaker to be false.

• It is said with the intent to deceive.

It’s this last element that distinguishes an ordinary false statement from a lie: the intent to deceive. It is also this last element that helps us understand the power of a material omission. If the information is withheld in order to deceive, it is dishonest.

Defenses Of Dishonesty

Leaders often resort to lies and other forms of dishonesty in the hope they can get away with it. But even when they are caught, they tend to justify their dishonesty — sometimes with the Santa Claus defense, sometimes with the “white lies” defense.

There are other justifications. Some claim the lie was just an innocent factual error, without the intent to deceive. Some justify lying to prevent a greater harm. Some justify the lie when there are conflicting duties, such as when the truth would violate confidentiality.

All too often, these justifications are not the actual reasons for the lies; they’re the rationale for the lies once the leaders have been caught in dishonesty.

But however compelling a justification may be in the moment, even if the leader isn’t caught, there is a fundamental problem with justifying dishonesty in some circumstances. And that is because repeated behaviors can become habitual.

Ethics As Habits

The very word ethics comes from an ancient Greek word that means habits. The Greek philosopher Aristotle noted that we are what we habitually do.

So the danger for leaders is that once you justify dishonesty in some circumstances, lying becomes easier and easier and can become habitual. Then there’s a real risk: The circumstances in which it’s OK to lie become more and more expansive, and pretty soon, lying becomes normalized. But the people the leader communicates with need to rely on what the leader says. And if the leader lies in some circumstances, those who matter to the leader may question whether to believe the leader at all.

And that can cause trust to plummet.

Warren Buffett, whose entire business arguably rests on the trust his investors have in him to manage their money responsibly, said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” In today’s world, where a tweet can reach millions in under 30 seconds, it’s even more important to consider that. Because once trust is lost, it is very hard, and sometimes impossible, to restore.

While the short-term impulse of a leader under stress may be to tell a lie or to defend dishonesty to guard against embarrassment or harm, there’s a real risk that leaders will lose the trust of those who matter most. And then what?

The leadership discipline is this: Don’t deceive. The cover-up is always worse than the original problem. And the consequences aren’t worth it.