Series on Leadership: Emerging through challenging times

Leadership is the ability to not only understand and utilize one’s innate talents, but to also effectively leverage the natural strengths of one’s team to accomplish the mission. Leaders better whichever environment they are in and demonstrate great power to unite their team and empower them to achieve organisational goals. Leaders establish their efficiency certain set of traits, which we will discuss in this blog series.

Failure does not stop a leader; it works as a stimulus for him to do better. A leader envisions how he can transform an obstacle into an opportunity.With necessary skills at his disposal to do so,the leader bounces back from difficult circumstances.

When the organisation’s reputation is at stake, not all leaders are able to safeguard against sudden crisis that threatens financial well-being, reputation, or survival of the firm or some portion thereof.

Take the example of, PepsiCo’s can tampering rumors (1993)

The crisis: A syringe was allegedly found in a can of Diet Pepsi in Washington state. The following week, more than 50 reports of tampered Diet Pepsi cans sprung up across the country. It turned out to be a hoax.

How PepsiCo responded: Both PepsiCo and the FDA were confident that the reports were fabrications, so the company came out hard, defending itself staunchly against the accusations.

But PepsiCo didn’t make vague statements telling the public to simply trust it. The company produced four videos throughout the crisis, such as a comprehensive report on its soda canning process. The most compelling was a surveillance tape of a woman in a Colorado store putting a syringe into a can of Diet Pepsi behind the store clerk’s back.

PepsiCo North America CEO Craig Weatherup appeared on news stations armed not only with visual evidence of the bogus reports, but with the explicit support of the FDA. He appeared most notably on Nightline with FDA Commissioner David Kessler, and they both assured the public that Diet Pepsi was safe.

The result: The rumors fizzled out within two weeks following multiple arrests by the FDA for filing false reports. Diet Pepsi sales had fallen 2% during the crisis but recovered within a month.The situation required an aggressive defence because PepsiCo hadn’t done anything wrong. If the company remained quiet and complacent the damage could have been far worse.