Leadership: Delivering bad news well

This morning, the cable news network devoted to business news and reports direct from the world's exchanges, CNBC, eloquently called for world business leaders to step forward and communicate with the public about the inherent strength of national economies and the fact that we can weather through this panic-fueled crisis.

Here in San Francisco today, one of our more visible startups, Seesmic, announced layoffs.  Seesmic is an interesting company.  It enables people to hold conversations via video, on the Web.  It is building user traction on a global basis. 

Seesmic's decision to contract occurs on a much smaller scale than something like a Lehman Brothers.  The folks affected are part of a team whose members know each other well.  When you work in a startup, the working relationships are close in a different way.  Everyone is working to build or build out an invention.

I don't know what kind of a response CNBC has received from business leaders, but I don't think anyone could do a better job than Seesmic's founder, Loic Lemeur, in showing how to deliver news candidly yet with great humanity.  And English is his second language.  Watch this or watch and read his blog post to see how one can execute one of the less attractive tasks of leadership:  delivering bad news well while confirming hope for the future.

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