About the Crisis Leadership Forum

To better understand the leadership dimensions of crisis situations, the Center for Creative Leadership convened a forum with formal and emergent leaders who played a role in Hurricane Katrina. We overlaid this conversation between crisis leaders with the perspectives of discussants with expertise in disaster, terrorism, public health, and leadership. This blog site is intended to continue this conversation.

To read the report on the Crisis Leadership Forum, please click here.

To read CCL's Leading Effectively newsletter on the Forum, please click here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Weakest Link in a Crisis

General Honore is retiring from the Army and moving to Emory University to build a disaster-relief curriculum. Gen. Honore, in a Christian Science Monitor interview, states that the greatest and largely unlearned lesson of Katrina is that civic response remains the weakest link. He hopes to restore a "culture of preparedness" to America not unlike that which existed during the days of the Cold War.

Gen. Honore's focus on enhancing civilian capabilities is in line with the need expressed at the Crisis Leadership Forum. In essence, we need to broaden our perspective on who is responsible for leadership in a crisis. Crises like Katrina erode the effectiveness of centralized leadership and drive the burden of leadership to the grassroots. How many of us are ready to step into the void?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Restoring Community

One of the issues that the Crisis Leadership Forum raised was the notion that crises are often chronic -- i.e., they last for a long, long time. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the long recovery is far from over especially for those hardest hit.

An NPR story "Storm Survivors Face Hard Choices in New Orleans" reports that only 40 percent of the residents of St. Bernard's Parish have returned home. What's hardest to rebuild are the communities that have vanished says Angele Givens in the NPR piece:

"Let me tell you what I did lose," she says. "My neighbors. My church. My kids' school. My social network. My friends. Today, your friends are all here. Tomorrow, they're in Conneticut and they're never coming back."

The Community Center of St. Bernard created by Forum participant Iray Nabatoff helps those returning home "gather to reconnect" as they rebuild their lives, businesses and neighborhoods. This work of restoring community and spirit after a crisis may be the most essential rebuilding work of all.