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It is in your responses

How you treat individuals when they are undergoing a personal crisis will be noticed. How you set your organization to respond to bigger crises, perhaps facing colleagues in other parts of the world, will be noticed even more. Whether you recognize birthdays, marriages or personal successes will say a lot about you.

I was once walking with a very stressed CEO from a boardroom to his office, when a secretary walking in front of him slipped and fell on a wooden floor. The CEO stopped and watched as another PA rendered assistance. He said nothing, and then resumed his journey to his office. I thought little of it at the time, because I know that he did stop to check that the secretary was being attended to. His head was filled with other things and he needed to make some crucial phone calls as his business was facing a major crisis.

The next day, I kept being told about how the CEO had simply ignored a member of staff in distress, and had cold-heartedly walked past her even though she was hurt and embarrassed. How he responded to the situation was misinterpreted, but widely transmitted the next day. His credibility as a leader took a severe dent.

Many of the leaders I have dealt with say one of the hardest signals they have to send is that of standing up to be visible, even during very difficult times. When things are at their most uncertain, and when there is honestly nothing to say because there is no news that will help anybody, simply showing up to listen to people and hear their concerns is an act of courage that wins enormous kudos from staff.

Being visible and available is a powerful signal of integrity.

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