Crisis is News — Again

Following severe crises, like the massively devastating earthquake in Haiti, questions of preparedness and response are rightly asked. But all too often those conversations recede as the urgency of immediate action is replaced with the long-term challenge of recovery. Here, we share resources for leading in a crisis, in both for short-term needs and long-term preparation.

Stepping into the Void. When crises such as Hurricane Katrina overwhelm the capacity of formal systems and structures, new leadership systems take shape and emergent leaders step into the void, playing critical and improvised roles in rescue and rebuilding efforts. In 2007, CCL hosted a forum of “frontline” leaders from Katrina and experts in public health, terrorism, disaster-related crises and leadership to gain insight into leading in times of crisis. Learn what we learned:

Recent news articles about crisis leadership include:

Poor crisis leadership was on display after Hurricane Katrina and during the financial crisis. By Tamara Lytle. On the U.S. News and World Report Web site, November 27, 2009. Lytle writes: “The New Orleans masses who huddled in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, the Enron retirees who lost their life savings and the laid-off workers buried under the economic ruin of financial companies all live with a simple truth. Just as spectacularly as great leadership can spark success, failed leadership can bring down cities, businesses and economies.”

Overcoming our disaster myopia in Haiti by Howard Kunreuther on The Washington Post Web site, January 19, 2010. Kunreuther writes: “It’s no surprise how we behave before and after low-probability, high-consequence events like Haiti’s earthquake: Our responses share certain common features. Before a catastrophe happens, for example, we give little thought to the possibility of such a devastating event – after all, it’s very unlikely to happen. But when we witness the destruction and chaos from a real disaster, there is an outpouring of sympathy and support. Several weeks later, however, another crisis inevitably takes center stage and much of the concern and support is dissipated.”

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