Supervisory Leadership

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What makes great disaster leadership?

Leadership is about setting direction (we're going over that hill), about purpose (here's why we're going over that hill) and maintaining energy and effort (come on, get up, we've got to get over that hill). Turn that into expectations and we want the people who lead us to know where we should go and why and encourage our efforts to get there.

When the shoe polish hits the fan, we turn around and look for our leaders. We expect them to step up, assure us that they know where we should go and encourage us on the journey.

We expect our leaders to be concerned with our welfare. The twin objectives of any leader whether leader of the free world or leader of a Marine fire team, are to accomplish the mission and care for the people.

When crisis strikes we are scared and confused. We want our leaders to act like we think we should act. We want them to be in control and decisive.

So leaders need to act decisively, correctly, and compassionately, but they also need to be perceived as acting decisively, correctly, and compassionately. Leaders communicate that by what they say and what they do.

What they say is important because that's where a leader demonstrates that he or she knows what's up and what to do about it.

What they do is important because symbolic acts by leaders mean a lot. It's not a "merely symbolic" act when the President tours a disaster area. It's a powerful act because it communicates importance and concern.

It comes down to this. In times of crisis we want our leaders to be decisive, knowledgeable and compassionate and to show that by what they say and do.

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Wally

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