Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mr. Cain Continues to Set An Example

It’s not the right example, but it certainly is a teaching moment, not only for politicians, but for executives at every level of a business or organization.

GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain now says he told a friend of Presidential opponent Rick Perry back in 2003 about a charge against him while he worked for the National Restaurant Association in the 90’s. And, as a result, Cain is blaming the Perry staff for leaking the allegations of sexual harassment against him.
That raises the question:  If he knew it was out there, why didn’t he have a prepared response?

When you have something that can be used against you or your company or organization, you must anticipate that it will come up at some time, and be prepared to make it a one-day story, not drag it on for days with denials, then half-truths, lame explanations and then blame the competition for stirring up the stink.
NBC News White House Correspondent Chuck Todd says, Cain has “evolved his explanation so much that it’s confirmed some of the charges, making his denials on all of them harder to believe.”

Let me 'splain this again:  If you have something questionable or potentially damaging in your past, just assume that at some critical time in your career, your business or your campaign, it will come out -- sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose. Decide NOW what you can and will say, practice it out-loud, polish it, and be prepared.

At ICM we recommend you tell your side of what happened/or didn’t, say you made a mistake (if you did) and have been working to make it right (if you have) and say you’re sorry – and mean it.

It won’t always stop the damage from eating away at you or your organization, but most of the time it will be a one-day story and then disappear.  It’s when you are not forthcoming, your enemies/opponents can and will keep chipping away at your integrity, reputation and name.

I know, you want to know what we would have suggested Mr. Cain say when the issue first came up. 
How about something like this:
You’ve seen me speak and interact with staff and supporters and voters. Sometimes my attempt at humor succeeds and sometimes it doesn’t.  There were two co-workers at NRA that apparently miss-interpreted something I said or did.  At the time I said I didn’t mean to offend anyone, and I can say it again – if I offended either of those two ladies or anyone else, forgive me.  I love my wife, I don’t need anyone but her.

Then when asked about it again, simply be prepared to say:  I answered that question yesterday (or when ever) do you have anything you want to ask me?

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