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.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Preventing School Tragedies Begins with Prepared Staff and Students

On a recent NPR’s Bryant Park Project show school safety consultant Ken Trump spoke about the critical role front line school personnel play in the preparing for and preventing possible catastrophes such as the Virginia Tech shooting last spring. Trump said staff members such as teachers, secretaries, bus drivers and custodians are the frontline people who can make a difference between life and death when a crisis unfold in a school.

The Crisis Leadership Forum spotlighted the significant role emergent leaders play in a disaster situations, when leadership systems and structures fail: “At the (Crisis Leadership) forum, we heard a lot of stories about people taking initiative and enacting leadership without authority. Formal constructs had been dismantled. Authority structures, infrastructure had gone away. Regular people who depended on those things found themselves without access to that, but leadership still had to happen,” said CCL Senior Fellow and forum participant Ellen Van Velsor, PhD.

Because incidents such as the Virginia Tech shooting unfold in a matter of minutes, staff members need to be prepared to operate well beyond the bounds of their official titles or roles. A staff and student body that is ready to lead can prevent possible catastrophes and save lives when a crisis occurs.

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