In week 12, we examined how leaders embraced change during the COVID-19 pandemic. I chose to explore Brian Chesky's approach for his company, Airbnb. I found that this company, and its leaders, led Airbnb through the crisis by engaging in clear communication, striving for maximum credibility, and recognizing that uncertainty is inevitable. Chesky also communicated with openness, frankness, honesty, and empathy, and empowered people to act (Hyland-Wood et al., 2021). In other words, despite a challenging experience losing nearly 80% of its revenue in the first eight weeks of the pandemic, the organization made quick, solid decisions for its stakeholders to weather the storm. Just nine months later, it had a successful IPO – likely due to the decisions made at the onset of the pandemic.
What I liked about this assignment was the ability to dive deep into a real case study and see how well it aligned with the resources provided on embracing change. In some cases, I found that Chesky and Airbnb did more than recommended. I found myself inspired by the actions taken by this relatively young CEO. The interview (posted below) is fantastic, further humanizes the brand, and gives us insight into Chesky's authenticity. Many CEOs could take a page from Airbnb's approach to a massive layoff. In a public letter (shared below), Chesky shared the who, what, why, when, and how the layoffs would occur. But, the bulk of the letter celebrates all employees and details how Airbnb will continue to help despite the hardships faced.
This study was a great example of stakeholders-first thinking. In the end, it benefitted most of the company employees (including some that were laid off), and the company is continually revolutionizing the travel industry.
Hyland-Wood, B., Gardner, J., Leask, J., & Ecker, U. K. H. (2021). Toward effective government communication strategies in the era of COVID-19. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-020-00701-w