What They Don’t Tell You About Crisis Management

I had to manage a few career threatening crisis.

We were in Xiamen and we got into trouble with the local police.

It started with an altercation between a few teammates and a Japanese client. The police was called but they decided to not arrest the client. Our team felt injustice and decided to surround the police station to protest.

More teammates joined the protest and screamed, “Traitors! You are allowing foreigners to insult our motherland!” In the midst of unrestrained testosterone flying high, a teammate shoved a policeman. As a result they swamped the crowd, cracked everything down, and arrested that teammate. The press picked up the news. I was the most senior person on the ground and I had to deal with it.

I wish I could glorify this story and say the team trusted my decisions, I trusted my team’s ability to execute, everyone trusted each other in doing their parts towards a shared goal, high fives, group hugs.

Nope.

I could not convince the team. I micro-managed. I stalled the execution. Everyone was protecting their own arses.

So what’s the LinkedIn-appropriate lesson I could conjure up from this humiliating experience?

Crisis management is trust.

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