6 leadership lessons from the NFL crisis

The NFL’s mistakes in handling the Ray Rice crisis can be educational for leaders of all stripes.

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The NFL’s Ray Rice crisis has transcended sports. Its core problems occur in organizations of varying sizes and missions all the time. There are high-profile, highly productive employees in many organizations who, unfortunately, also pose significant risks to their employer’s reputation and trustworthiness. The NFL had many opportunities to better handle its full-blown publicity crisis, but as it is, the incident may cost Roger Goodell his $44 million-a-year job as commissioner.

Here are a few lessons for leaders of any organization.

1. PR is strategic, not a crutch for bad decisions. Despite Hollywood’s best plot lines, PR can’t spin a story hard enough to erase poor decisions, especially when condemning evidence is already in the public domain.

Ineffective leaders use PR to bail an organization out of bad decisions. Effective leaders give their PR professionals a seat at the table, encourage them to explain the public ramifications of decisions, and use those insights to avoid crises. Then PR can focus on restoring trust in the organization by communicating its positive decisions and actions.

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