How to Be a Good Boss (Leader) in Trying Times

Leaders love to announce record earnings and awards, but most are loath to share bad news. You may be tempted to ask subordinates to deliver negative information, but as venture capitalist Michael Dearing has said, “There is a difference between what you do and how you do it.”

In late March, electric scooter company Bird left it to an anonymous executive in a two-minute Zoom call to inform 30% of the staff that they would lose their jobs. Workers had one hour’s notice to join the call, and those who missed it learned they were laid off when they couldn’t access email.

A counterexample comes from an April announcement from Henry Ward, CEO of the software firm Carta, to the 161 employees he was letting go: “If today is your last day, there is only one person to blame and it is me.”

Being a good boss in a crisis means not only making hard decisions — often quickly and with limited information — but also taking responsibility for them.

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