Guest Author Bob Cooper: Leadership Lessons from Hurricane Irene
The east coast has experienced one of the worst hurricanes in recent history, with tremendous damage and loss of life. Some of the most significant lessons can be learned by observing leadership during extremely difficult times.
The following are several observations relative to leadership during this difficult time:
Several leaders from the President to local officials consistently stated that every effort is being made to save lives. This is very important to assist individuals to understand the rationale for decisions being made. For example, mandatory evacuations were being ordered to protect individuals. Many people thought this was an overreaction. It’s impossible to get everyone to agree on an action – but the decisions link directly to the goal. It’s very easy after the fact to criticize, but had these actions not been taken, more lives would have been lost. During times of change and uncertainty leaders must communicate the focus of the effort, with a clarity of purpose.
I recall seeing New York City Mayor Bloomberg at least 3 or 4 times providing status updates, and reinforcing the objective. He would ask other members of his team to give additional information as required.
Regardless of how these leaders were feeling inside, they conveyed a sense of optimism. They clearly communicated their level of concern, but showed a sense of being in control. Great leaders understand that when others are losing their cool, they must project a sense of confidence – both in the people who are executing the various strategies, and the outcome overall.