The past few weeks we have seen plenty of company leaders making poor decisions on how to respond to criticism.

Not Sam Kennedy.

The Red Sox president took immediate action after Orioles player Adam Jones reported that he was subjected to racist taunts during a game at Fenway Park. How Kennedy addressed and responded to this incident is one we can all learn from.

Kennedy took it seriously from the beginning

First off, Kennedy and the Red Sox organization took Jones' concern seriously. They launched an immediate investigation, agreed that a few spectators were engaged in this activity, and took action -- publicly.

He publicly apologized

In response to the incident, Kennedy didn't wait. He released a statement apologizing to Jones within a day. He also publicly addressed it head-on in media interviews and called the behavior inexcusable. His response was also genuine, according to those who work with him.

"The Red Sox want to publicly apologize to Adam Jones and the entire Orioles organization for what occurred at Fenway Park Monday night. No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, nor be subjected to any kind of racism at Fenway Park."

He took quick action and promised accountability

Kennedy didn't stop at just saying "sorry" for the actions of a few. He vowed to go much further -- with promises to beef up security, enforce standards, and work with local police to help prevent this from happening again. He also encouraged others to "speak up" and work collectively to halt unruly behavior. The statement also clarified the Red Sox policy:

"The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few. Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security, and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark, and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night's events is ongoing."

Vowed to make it right

Kennedy didn't hide in a cubical during all of this. Before the game the next night between the Red Sox and the Orioles, video showed the executive on the field, patting the back of Jones. This symbolic welcoming gesture did not go unnoticed by fans who were determined to make it right. His leadership and strong rejection of this behavior also appeared to have a ripple effect on Fenway Park, with fans and Red Sox players giving Jones' a standing ovation when he took the field.

While Fenway Park will still likely suffer some reputation damage from this incident and some may argue the organization can always do more, Kennedy can certainly be applauded for taking a hard stand and trying to make it right.

Published on: May 3, 2017
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