Crisis of Character
IN THIS SUMMARY
Modern corporations face unprecedented challenges to remaining profitable, including demanding market conditions, constant public scrutiny via today’s technology, and increased awareness of environmental consequences in a global economy. These challenges also conspire to make corporate reputations more vulnerable than ever. An unexpected crisis can change public perception of an organization overnight, threatening its very existence. In Crisis of Character, Peter Firestein asserts that building a strong corporate reputation that is rooted in core values and is cultivated throughout the organizational structure provides the key to long-term sustainability in today’s business world. Organizations which have clearly defined their core values, and have created practices which support those values, are less likely to fall prey to unethical and illegal practices which lead to scandal and even to business collapse. As a guide, Firestein provides seven strategies grounded in practical data from leaders and companies to guide leaders in creating organizational cultures which promote ethical and successful business practices. These include: (1) establish core values and consistently apply them in all operations; (2) see the organization through stakeholder eyes, and work to bridge the value paradox, or the gap between how an organization seeks to create value and how stakeholders believe value should be created; (3) define the company’s landscape, and create a stakeholder map which aggregates all the company’s constituencies in a single view; (4) build a reputation from the inside out by creating a foundational team of trusted advisors and developing a communication democracy in which information flows freely; (5) tell the corporate story, to create a common language for leaders and stakeholders to use when speaking about the organization; (6) prepare for crisis to minimize the damage that may be caused; and (7) develop support within corporate governance, including the Board of Directors, and use values to measure performance outcomes.