Roger Goodell probably would like a “do-over”. When he said that he “didn’t get it right”, regarding the Ray Rice domestic violence situation, he probably should have said, “I didn’t get it right, at all”.
This isn’t about Roger. It’s about how leaders handle their mistakes; when they don’t get it right.
First, take a deep breath. Reactive responses always miss something. There are no prizes for being first when it comes to executive response. Understand that you do have time to respond. Not much, but you do have time for consideration and information gathering.
Go to the experts and most informed sources. Avoid anyone who has something to gain or lose from the outcome of the situation. Talk to those folks after you do your fact-finding. It will be much easier for you to get a clear view of the situation and your radar will be finely tuned for those political or self-interested conversations.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Does your message make sense? Is it considerate? Are you communicating in an authentic, spin-free way? Are you inviting dialogue or shutting down discussion?
Balance your message. Consider all of the feedback and create your own, thoughtful response. This likely will be the toughest part, but it’s your time to lead. It’s your message to give. It’s your voice they will hear, not the cacophony of those who aren’t on the hot seat.
In most cases, not “getting it right” isn’t the end of the world. It is how you recover that matters. You will serve your organization well, and yourself, by taking time to gather your thoughts, listen to thoughtful and non-partisan advice and articulating a message that instills trust and confidence.