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, January 26, 2010

The bright spot in the terrible disaster in Haiti

The devastating earthquake in Haiti has produced a remarkable global response. The response, while no means adequate to the immense need, is still astounding in the vast outpouring of support -- manifest in rescue crews from far corners of the globe, the fundraising telethons by famous pop stars, the collection drives by ordinary people everywhere, and the sharing of food scraps among neighbors in Haiti.

This noble effort, while marred by missteps and confusion, shows that our global community can come together in collective action. A true test will be whether we can sustain this effort (I wrote about this on the CCL's Leading Effectively blog), applying our collective efforts in extended cooperative action. If we can accomplish this, what the terrible disaster in Haiti will give the world is a new global compact for bringing our immense, shared capabilities to bear in cooperative action wherever great human need is manifest.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We are the ones we have been waiting for

One of the messages that popped into my mailbox after the New Year was an evocative and poetic statement attributed to the Hopi Elders. It speaks to the essence of crisis leadership. Good guidance for us all in these times:

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.
Here are the things that must be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know our garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel like they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off toward the middle of the river,
Keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all Ourselves!
For the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lonely wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

The Elders,
Oraibi, Arizona
Hopi Nation 2009

Boundary-Spanning Leadership Needed for the Global Crises of our Age

It's been a tough year. TIME Magazine's list of the top news stories of 2009 is dominated by crises of all kinds: economic, political, security, and health.

What these crises have in common is that they spill across national borders and are well beyond the control of any single entity, no matter how large or powerful. How do we cope?

As we found in the Crisis Leadership Forum, there is need to create adaptable leaders at all levels who can better deal with uncertainty as well as build relationships across boundaries. CCL's Chris Ernst writes in Forbes that boundary-spanning leaders have a unique orientation:

"Rather than assuming boundaries to be barriers, truly collaborative leaders work best where boundaries intersect, overlap and bump up against one another. Boundary-spanning leaders bridge organizational and cultural divides; vertical and horizontal gaps; and stakeholder, demographic and geographic groupings. They thrive at finding innovative outcomes at the intersections where groups can work productively together."

Chris goes on to describe six leadership roles that are geared towards working across boundaries -- Conductor, Ambassador, Connector, Narrator, Mediator and Inventor. All of these are important in crisis preparedness and response. The more we can do to develop these capabilities in our ranks, and among leaders at large, the better we will be able to rise to meet the great challenges that are undoubtedly ahead in 2010.