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The Ruffled Executive: Building Trust Through a Crisis

This topic was presented in detail by an industry leader on our Executive Level Leadership Certificate Program. Click here if you'd like to learn more about that program. 


In times of crisis, whether it be a global pandemic, a financial downturn, or a PR scandal, executives are thrust into the spotlight and face immense pressure to lead effectively. One crucial factor that can make or break their leadership is trust. In this blog post, we will explore how executives can build trust through a crisis and navigate the storm with confidence.

Transparency and Open Communication

The foundation of trust lies in transparency and open communication. During a crisis, it is essential for executives to be open and honest about the situation at hand. This includes acknowledging challenges, sharing the steps being taken to address the crisis, and providing regular updates to stakeholders. By maintaining clear and consistent communication, executives can foster trust and alleviate anxieties.

Being Present and Accessible

Executives must be present and accessible, both physically and virtually, during a crisis. Whether it is through town hall meetings, virtual Q&A sessions, or one-on-one interactions, being available to address concerns and answer questions demonstrates a commitment to transparency and builds trust. This direct engagement helps stakeholders feel heard and valued, fostering a sense of trust and confidence in the executive's leadership.

Taking Responsibility and Accountability

In times of crisis, it is crucial for executives to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions and decisions. This includes acknowledging any mistakes or shortcomings and taking swift corrective measures. By demonstrating ownership and accountability, executives show their commitment to resolving the crisis and rebuilding trust with stakeholders.

Empathy and Authenticity

During a crisis, executives should display empathy and authenticity in their interactions with stakeholders. Understanding the concerns, fears, and challenges faced by employees, customers, and other stakeholders helps build a sense of connection and trust. Executives who genuinely express empathy and demonstrate a sincere understanding of the impact of the crisis are more likely to instill confidence and trust in their leadership.

Consistency and Stability

In times of crisis, stakeholders seek stability and consistency. Executives who maintain a steady presence, deliver consistent messages, and make well-informed decisions inspire trust. By displaying a sense of calm and resolve amidst uncertainty, executives can reassure stakeholders and create an environment of trust and stability.

Learning from Mistakes and Iterating

Crises provide invaluable opportunities for growth and learning. Executives who acknowledge mistakes, learn from them, and iterate their approach demonstrate humility and a commitment to continuous improvement. This willingness to adapt and evolve based on lessons learned inspires trust and confidence in their leadership abilities.


Building trust as an executive during a crisis is a formidable task, but it is also an opportunity to strengthen relationships and emerge stronger. By prioritizing transparency, open communication, accessibility, responsibility, empathy, authenticity, consistency, and a growth mindset, executives can navigate crises successfully and build trust with stakeholders. Trust is not built overnight; it is built through consistent actions and genuine engagement. By fostering trust during times of crisis, executives can inspire confidence in their leadership and pave the way for a resilient and successful recovery.

Embrace the role of the ruffled executive and build trust through a crisis. Your leadership can make all the difference.


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