U.S. President Quotes & Crisis Management Lessons

In honor of Presidents’ Day, thought I’d share some great quotes that relate to crisis george-washington-portraitmanagement and how they might be applied to business crises today.

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. — George Washington

Crisis Management Lesson:  Crisis situations are magnified when leaders fail to accept responsibility for their company’s actions. They are also magnified when poor excuses are made for obvious failures –and then the media gets to the truth and calls you out. 

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. –Abraham Lincoln

Crisis Management Lesson: The public is much more likely to forgive mistakes made by an organization IF you are honest about the facts from the very beginning of the crisis – regardless of what some lawyers might tell you.

When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
John F. Kennedy

Crisis Management Lesson: Don’t get obsessed and stressed about the crisis. Instead, focus energies on the solution. McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, had a major crisis of confidence on its hands with Tylenol in 1982 – but by creating the first tamper-proof bottles, converted a horrible situation into a golden opportunity that changed an industry and that restored the public’s trust in its products.

You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now. — Harry S. Truman

Crisis Management Lesson: Don’t just think of a few minor case scenarios when doing your crisis management planning. (You’re not doing crisis management planning?? Let’s talk.) Think of the BIG Crises that could impact your business. For example, plan for a SuperStorm Sandy that floods your offices and destroys customer data – rather than just a brief power outage. Plan for a workplace shooting rather than a testy verbal exchange between employees.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. — Theodore Roosevelt

Crisis Management Lesson: Companies that do nothing in a crisis are at most risk for loss of reputation and more. Unfortunately, we see all too much of this today. Those organizations that try to do the right thing but get it wrong are often forgiven by the public if they keep working on a solution. Always try to do the right thing FIRST and that will save reputation, often prevent costly litigation and quickly restore any lost public trust. Companies that do the right thing early in a crisis will often see increased revenues and market share once the crisis begins to subside. 

My failures have been errors in judgment, not of intent. –Ulysses S. Grant

Crisis Management Lesson: If true, borrow this great quote from Grant when you are publicly responding in a crisis!

For more information about Rich Klein Crisis Management:

And be sure to watch The Crisis Show at 7 pm on most Wednesdays.

2 thoughts on “U.S. President Quotes & Crisis Management Lessons

  1. This is an excellent list/synopsis. The Roosevelt quote is a classic….

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