January 17th, 2021

Vacation scandal gripping political class holds lesson for business leaders: Expert

By The Canadian Press on January 5, 2021.

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on May 13, 2019. One of Canada's top public relations experts says the controversy of politicians jetting off to sunny destinations despite travel warnings to stay home underscores the importance of effective leadership communication. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A public relations expert says the current controversy involving politicians who ignored travel warnings over the holidays holds important lessons for leaders in politics and business.

Bob Pickard, principal at Signal Leadership Communication, says the situation has illustrated how hypocrisy, contradiction and privilege are easily exposed in an age of social media.

He says outdated “spin doctoring” is not only ineffective, it can make leaders appear further out of touch, worsening the backlash.

Instead, Pickard says politicians and business leaders must ‘understand the zeitgeist’ of the moment and how people feel and allow that to shape their actions and communications.

He says leaders must practice a sort of “radical candour” communication style that is transparent and candid.

Pickard adds that leaders should avoid “sugar coating” information and instead be frank and honest if they want to earn the respect and buy in of the public or their workforce.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.

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