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3 Lessons Learned From Leading Through Crisis

Zabrina Jenkins, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel at Starbucks, shares 3 lessons she learned while leading through crisis. In 2018, Zabrina was a core member of the incident crisis management response team that addressed the arrests of two Black customers at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Starbucks. She personally led the negotiations and creative resolution of claims against the company stemming from the highly publicized arrests.

Zabrina Jenkins. Senior Vice President Deputy General Counsel at Starbucks


We asked Zabrina Jenkins the following question: "What are three things you learned from leading through crisis?" Below is her response:

1. Prepare Before the Crisis and Practice.

Develop a crisis response plan including the identification of key stakeholders and test it by doing simulation exercises. You don’t win a championship game by sending players onto the field who have never practiced together. Line up your support team early so you know who to call on when an event happens and practice how you will respond. It will help you identify where you have gaps and opportunities before you’re in a crisis where the stakes are high.

2. Diversity at the Table is Crucial.

In our increasingly diverse and multicultural society, it’s more important than ever to have people of various backgrounds with different life experiences at the decision-making table to share perspectives and generate better ideas, strategies, and outcomes. Having a diverse mix of voices at the table will help to identify any biases or blind-spots, and lead to more empathetic, inclusive, and innovative decisions.

3. Lead with Your Values and Empathy.

In times of crisis, it is important to stay anchored in your values and allow them to guide your decision-making. Empathy is important because it helps you understand another person’s thoughts and feelings rather than your own. When you lead with your values and empathy, you’re more likely to achieve a result that people understand and respect.

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Lessons from Leading through Crisis
3 Lessons Learned From Leading Through Crisis
International Women's Forum