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Empowered Leadership in Times of Crisis with Brian P. Kruzelnick

Why Trust, Readiness, and Humanity are Important in Crisis Management

Shep Hyken interviews Chief Master Sergeant Brian P. Kruzelnick, a.k.a. Chief BK, Command Senior Enlisted Leader for U.S. Transportation Command. He discusses integrating crisis management and training into everyday business practices and organizational culture. 

NOTE: This episode of Amazing Business Radio is a departure from the emphasis on customer service and CX. He shared how he and his team managed major crises, such as 2021 evacuation in Afghanistan and humanitarian aid in countries that need it. While his “customers” are different than most of the people listening to this show, the lessons are powerful in any situation, big or small, including customer complaints and issues. 

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This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions and more:   

  1. How can effective crisis management contribute to a company’s success and customer experience? 
  2. How can leaders effectively prepare for and navigate crises in their organizations? 
  3. What lessons can leaders learn from military training to enhance their organization’s readiness for challenging times? 
  4. How can leaders effectively build trust within their organizations? 
  5. What role do empathy and humanity play in customer service and crisis management?

Top Takeaways

  • In times of crisis, leaders must be prepared to respond effectively and execute plans thoughtfully. Just as the military trains for the worst moments, an organization can thrive even in chaotic situations by being well-prepared and having capable team members who understand their equipment and protocols.  
  • After an organization successfully handles a crisis or a “down day,” the next step is thinking long-term and figuring out how to bake the solution into the culture. If you are making changes, make sure your employees understand where they fit in, how it affects them, and how they can contribute in a positive way. 
  • Consistent training contributes to an organization’s culture of excellence. Like a well-maintained car, a highly skilled team delivers amazing customer service and effectively navigates every crisis. 
  • Onboarding sets the tone. Effective onboarding sets the norms and expectations within an organization. New employees must clearly understand their roles and align with the company’s mission and values. 
  • Empowerment is when employees do not have a boss or someone with a higher position than them peering over their shoulders, they can still make confident decisions because they understand the organization’s culture and their leaders’ intent. 
  • Plus, Chief BK shares amazing crisis stories from the military that companies and customer support teams can learn from. Tune in!


“Crisis either fractures or forges a leader. An organization can see how to go forward post-crisis by how the leader handled the situation during the crisis.” 

“Train your people to the level that makes them successful. There is a level of comfort knowing that you have the foundation of strong training to rely on in a crisis.” 

“Be operationally and strategically focused. Understand the culture and where your organization is going so that you can make decisions even when the CEO or leaders are not around.” 

“Don’t run into a fire with gasoline. A leader must be the cool head in the room.” 

“In a crisis, a leader knows how to bring harmony to chaos.” 


Chief Master Sergeant Brian P. Kruzelnick, a.k.a. Chief BK, is the Command Senior Enlisted Leader for the U.S. Transportation Command. He is a military leader with over 30 years of experience in crisis management and disaster relief. 

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and host of Amazing Business Radio.

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