Advice to Boeing CEO on leadership in a crisis

Boeing is running out of time to regain the public’s trust following the fatal crashes of two of its 737 Max 8 aircrafts in the past six months, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health crisis leadership experts.

In an opinion piece published March 27, 2019 in CNN Business, Leonard Marcus and Eric McNulty of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, a joint program of the School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, outline a way forward for the company and identify ways that it has fallen short in its response to the crisis.

The piece contends that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg wasted time following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines on March 10, noting that his first visible action was to call President Trump to vouch for the Max 8 planes rather than to express empathy for crash victims’ loved ones. This raised perceptions that the company’s primary concern was short-term business interests. Moving forward, the company must make a brutally honest internal assessment of what went wrong leading up to the crashes.

Also, they write, “Muilenburg needs to focus on the future. He must emphasize transparency, humility and authenticity. He must demonstrate to every stakeholder that the company is—and will be—fully trustworthy.”

Read the CNN article: Boeing can regain public trust, but it’s running out of time