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, March 4, 2008

Forgiveness in the Wake of a Crisis

In an essay on the civil conflict in Kenya, Ann Njeri writes about the need to forgive to heal the wounds:

"Can we, the ordinary citizens and the majority in Kenya, break these chains of hatred and animosity which have been passed to us from generation to generation? Can we forgive those who have hurt us instead of seeking revenge? Can we apologize to one another for being perpetrators of hatred and turning against each other?

Forgiveness remains a crucial thing for Kenya and other countries swimming in hatred. Forgiveness is so radical! It dissolves alienation, brings reconciliation, restoration and renewal. It does not change the past but it does enlarge the future. Its difficult, its challenging but its worth going for it."

The Crisis Leadership Forum report indicates that enacting forgiveness is critical in repairing the damage caused by crisis. In the Forum, Tom Tucker stated with regard to Hurricane Katrina: "I sincerely hope we have a forgiveness authority. . . . It’s going to be very interesting if the right people that did the right things are forgiven. And if they’re not, you’re going to lose a layer of leadership.”
The need to recognize wrongs and enact forgiveness is a difficult chasm that can and must be bridged. One path forward is the Truth and Reconciliation model pioneered in South Africa. It is a way of healing we need much more in our world and represents the kind of courageous leadership that bridges but doesn't paper over differences.
In a blog post on the re-emergence of social-identity conflict in our world, Chris Ernst writes of the role of leadership in bringing people together:
"The implication for leadership is this – as ancient identities work to pull groups apart, the role of leadership will increasingly be to create the context and space for these groups to come together. When group boundaries are successfully bridged, pent-up breakthroughs and innovations are unleashed. This is both the challenge and the opportunity for boundary spanning leadership."

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