How leaders can break bad news

How leaders can break bad news

On December 8, 1941 – one day after the attack at Pearl Harbor – President Franklin D Roosevelt had to break that terrible news to the people of the United States.

Leaders can learn from how he handled that crisis- he didn’t pull any punches, but spoke clearl and decisively. And while his listeners were still absorbing the situation, he reaffirmed that he was in control, he presented a solution, and guaranteed victory.

Leaders can do the same today, regardless of the crisis they are dealing with.

Here is an excerpt from the speech:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu… As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.


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