Thinking about all of the serious issues facing the world today, we find ourselves in numerous precarious situations like never before. These situations we face are calling for serious leadership like never before, and in all areas of our lives; Government… Business… Community… even Church, Neighborhood, and home! We are facing issues today that are unprecedented. From weather events producing tornado outbreaks never witnessed in the previous 3 generations; hurricanes and super-storms threatening entire regions of civilizations; massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural catastrophic events. Natural disasters are occurring on an unprecedented scale, effecting communities, governments, businesses, and the entire world economic and security structure.
Threats are not limited to natural disasters by any stretch of the imagination. The threat of terrorism and ethnic strife continues to rise as tensions mount in the middle east, east-Asia, and Africa. Ecological disasters from oil spills to climate change are no longer ideological, but real, existing and experienced threats. And political and economic troubles continue to loom; from Greece and the Euro Union to the fiscal cliff faced on our own home front. Simply reviewing the headlines of today’s media sources testify to the simple fact that we as a human race face more crises today than yesterday, and leaders of today have no choice but to be exceptional leaders in times of crises if they plan to truly lead. And today, all of us on this planet are in a position where we need true leadership to lead; to lead us out of the situations we find ourselves in economically, politically, socially, and globally.
With this in mind, we focus on what it takes to be a true leader in times of crises. We look at our president; we look at our governor and mayor; we look at our business leaders; pastors; community organizers, and ourselves. What does it take to truly lead in times of crises? What will it take to truly lead through the times we are facing?
I recently came across an article in the Harvard Business Review; an interview by Scott Berinato with Adm. Thad Allen (Retired), the Senior VP of Booz Allen Hamilton. This interview caught my attention at first because he is scheduled to give the Key Note Address at my upcoming conference in New Orleans (International Disaster Conference & Expo, or IDCE). But as I read this interview with Adm. Allen, I couldn’t help but to apply his thoughts to every other crises faced; from government (the fiscal cliff is a serious issue needing serious people prepared to make serious decisions… which I don’t think we have in our government on any side, at any level… sorry), to business (economic insecurity and uncertainty is definitely a major global crises), to how I lead my family.
Admiral Allen, former Admiral of the U.S. Coast Guard, managed the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Previously, Admiral Allen also managed the response to Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf, and also managed New York Harbor during the 9/11 attacks. He also managed the U.S. response and relief activities to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The interview conducted by Berinato was on-point and direct regarding leadership, and his thoughts on what it took to be a leader through these times of crises. He summed it up into a few key points and phrases.
Wall Street Journal GUEST COLUMN March 5, 2009. Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis. By BILL GEORGE. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123551729786163925.html#printMode