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Crisis Forges Leaders

Out of crisis comes opportunity!

A week after Hurricane Sandy unleashed its destructive and deadly force along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coasts, many of those impacted continue to be left without the modern necessities of power, gas and connectivity. Shattered homes and shattered lives will need to be rebuilt from the ground up and that process is a long one. But out of this crisis come opportunities.  The opportunity to rebuild is a given one, but the opportunity to lead may not be obvious at every level.

When we think of leadership in the wake of a disaster, we normally picture government and political leaders touring scenes of devastation and promising help to those in need.   The involvement of elected and appointed officials is a critical first step in any disaster recovery.  But, what is crucial in any rebuilding effort is follow-through.

We need leadership and we need follow-through!

In some cases, the follow-through to the next, sometimes tentative, steps is very visible.  We see charities like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army and government agencies like FEMA or the Army Corps of Engineers providing relief or shoring up dams and levies.  These are all critical steps as we seek to reclaim the homes and livelihoods so brutally upended by nature’s fury.  More importantly, though, these efforts provide the building blocks for us as individuals to reclaim what we can of the lives we knew before the storm hit.

As we rebuild homes and businesses, as we re-connect to the modern grid that so defines our normality, we are building upon national and community efforts and making them our own.  Each step in the rebuilding process requires leadership. Whether that leadership is on a grand and decisive scale or a more modest, methodical effort, it is still the essential ingredient for all our post-storm recovery efforts.

When visions become reality.

Effective leadership involves establishing a vision of what you hope to accomplish, setting goals to realize that vision, and working methodically and deliberately to achieve those goals.  Leadership is really the art of getting things done.  It is not a photo-op.  It is not a promise.  It is the concrete realization of a vision.  In this case, the vision of a better, safer future or the vision of a life resumed.

Crises do forge leaders.  It’s easy to run an organization or a business or a family when there are no external forces acting on you.  But that’s not reality.  Sandy was a dose of reality on a grand scale.  In its wake, that horrible storm will give rise to leaders who have the vision and see the possibilities of a better future.  These leaders will also know that it will take their blood, sweat and tears to make that vision the new reality.


By Cedric Leighton, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.