The measure of true leadership abilities are always tested during time of Crisis. Whenever an organization/company faces tough times, there is always more than one reason for things to go wrong and loose the control of situation. Great leader have one thing in common and that is the ability to assume control of situation, bring everyone together and get the situation back to normal.
The way Johnson and Johnson responded at the time of crisis to what is called as a national threat in American history is yet another example of strong leadership and the steps J & J took were all grounded with strongly ethnic roots which not only followed the humanitarian code and values but also exemplified company commitment to the society and its people and build trust for the organization. It was a horrifying case that took lives of seven innocent people.
The news of death being related to Tylenol broke out as a surprise to the company and was faced with dilemma of protecting people or company image. The company showed great leadership ability and took quick and responsive action and issued a public statement, stopped all the ads and production of further Tylenol until the issue is discovered and resolved. The company also demonstrated an example of authentic leadership and took the responsibility of the situation even though it was discovered the tampering has not to do with J & J and has been done at retail level.
And the major decision J and J took by putting people life beyond any losses & recalling all the existing Tylenol products on shelf and not risking any further lives. In the profit driven market where every organization fundamental aim is to make profit and protect the share value, J and J actions were morally responsible and based on greater good for society and had ethical roots. Though there was every reason for J & J to worry about company losses and share value but they stick to the company Credo (ethic manual) and took actions that followed the rules for ethical decision making.
Utilitarian principle focuses on what will be the greater good for the greater number and recall of all the Tylenol product is the light of discovering of some samples might having position certainly follows this principle. Obviously whenever the risk of human life is involved with a situation the greater good is always whatever action that prevents the loss of human life. The company definitely had millions to loose in product recall and faced the risk of not being able o revive the product image again but from ethnic and moral stand point of view the action taken by company is well justified and exemplifies authentic and ethical leadership. All humans have strong personal values and ethics and everyone has an altruistic side attached to them, morally everyone decision would match to the actions what company took but the additional pressure of loss, being liable to shareholders and protecting company image affects the decision in such a situation.
From the practical point of view an ethical decision should be one that a manager has no hesitation communicating to people outside the company and a typical person in society would find the decision to be acceptable. Clearly the actions taken by J & J were accepted by public and helped J & J gain the customer trust and also created an example of how a company should accept responsibility and take action in a situation like this. From a moral perspective also company actions were justified.
The company actions were not limited to recalling the product and taking responsibility but company also took care of the families that suffered and provide financial support and counseling help to them. The main aim of any health care organization is to make products that help people recover and live a happy and healthy life and J & J went out of the organization role to make sure that basic aim is met. One of the reason J & J was able to respond with actions that are morally justified and follow the ethical rules is because of company values clearly spelled out in a document termed as “Credo”.
Credo serve as a guide to decision making with being responsible to society and putting wellbeing of people before any profits. In conclusion, J & J response clearly followed the rules for ethical decision making and sets a benchmarking for crisis management and showing corporation responsibility to society. The actions followed were quick, effective and protects the interest of people. Not just from ethical stand point of view but also J & J demonstrated good example of authentic leadership.
References Wikipedia (2011); Chicago Murder case. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Chicago_Tylenol_murders ^ Kaplan, Tamara. “The Tylenol Crisis: How Effective Public Relations Saved Johnson & Johnson”. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved February 12, 2010. John Baldoni-http://blogs. hbr. org/cs/2011/01/how_a_good_leader_reacts_to_a. html http://www. jnj. com/connect/about-jnj/jnj-credo/ http://iml. jou. ufl. edu/projects/fall02/susi/tylenol. htm