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The Key Leadership skill of Communicating and Feedback: Tony Hayward and BP

26th Jul 2010
Senior Consultant & CEO Track Surveys
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I've watched the unfolding story of Tony Hayward and BP over the past couple of months with a personal and a professional interest. 

From a personal point of view, I've been shocked by the apparent bypassing of safety rules and standards that led to the death of 15 oil-rig workers, as well as the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Professionally, I have been fascinated how CEO Tony Hayward has responded to the crisis, in particular his comment "I simply was not involved in the decision-making process."

Is the CEO of any organisation every justified in saying that he or she was too removed from the day-to-day decision making process to bear responsiblity for the eventual outcome of those decisions? 

I don't think so - to me, one of the key tasks of a Leader is to make sure you are communicating with people right through the organisation, providing guidance for decision making at lower levels, and listening to feedback from those lower levels as to what's really going on.  

In other words, it's critical for the CEO and the Board to be able to keep their finger on the pulse of the organisation, and to make sure the channels for feedback are kept open and fluid - otherwise disaster will inevitably strike.

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