Crisis: The Real Test Of Leadership

November 3, 2012

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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Well, it’s been quite an eventful week here on Long Island, starting with a visit from Hurricane Sandy. As it turns out, the storm was just the beginning. We are now dealing with the aftermath of power outages, fuel shortages, limitations on basic infrastructure, and challenges in obtaining the very basics of food and water – not to mention the devastating loss of life and homes that some are facing.  We are thankful to have power restored at the Ingino home and have been busy bringing in other families who need to use our power.


But here’s the thing – there are big lessons in all of this.  The main lesson is just how much a crisis exposes true leaders versus those who are just in a leadership position.  As we talked about in a recent podcast, there is a difference.


So how do you spot leaders in a time of crisis?


1. They are those who, first of all, have done all they can to prevent the crisis (or at least to lessen its effects) in the first place.  

A leader is visionary – they see possibilities, and they anticipate problems.  And they prepare for both.  A good leader will have an emergency plan in place well before the emergency ever occurs.


2. They are those who take immediate action.  

They quickly assess the situation, identifying the high level immediate needs.  And they make the connections to get those needs met.  They are not easily deterred by obstacles.  Right now, the most important people in the New York and New Jersey areas are not the politicians – they are the drivers of the Red Cross trucks bringing food and water; they are the utility workers; they are the fuel truck drivers; they are the firemen, police officers, and National Guard.  This just proves the value of working in your strengths, because the fact is, your strengths as a heavy equipment operator, driver, or emergency responder are critical at a time like this.  Never compare yourself to others who seem to be more important.  Instead, be the best at what you do, and there will come a time for you to lead others through a crisis.


3. They are those who care and convey hope.  

It’s one thing to be a “general”, a trait that is needed in a crisis.  But it’s equally important to care about people – to let them know you care and to offer hope of a better tomorrow.  People look to you in a crisis because they need someone who can help them see the next step to take.


4. They are those who see opportunity in adversity.

In the midst of doom and gloom, they see new ideas and innovative ways to solve problems and make things better for people.


5. And they are those who, after the dust settles, go back to the original plan with the lessons learned from crisis, and make it a better plan for the next event.


Go, be a leader in your strengths.  

The world needs you.


  1. Bob says:

    This is spot on! Glad you made it through safe and sound!

    • Deb Ingino says:

      Thanks Bob. Many folks are still without power and heat and some without homes, we are among the luckiest.

      We are all so grateful for those who have left their families to help the need here in the east.