Chapter Twelve. Best Practices in Leading under Crisis: Bottom-Up Leadership, or How to Be a Crisis Champion[*]

Ian I. Mitroff

Not a day goes by without the occurrence of a new crisis or the painful unfolding and continuation of one that has already occurred. It is literally Crisis du Jour! The September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the Enron/Andersen debacle, the Catholic Church scandals, Martha Stewart’s indictment, NASA’s Challenger travails, the London transit bombings are not only prominent examples of major crises, but they demonstrate clearly that crises have become an integral part of the landscape. Their names are so well known that they have become synonymous with crises themselves. Clearly something fundamental has changed about the world. Crises are now the norm, not the rare exception. The sooner and the quicker that we learn the leadership lessons that crises have to teach us, then the sooner and the better we will be able to cope.

Crises test a person’s and an organization’s character like nothing else. Crises bring out the best and the worst in all of us. They raise us up. They bring us down. They inspire us to perform great acts of bravery and heroism—far beyond anything we would have thought possible. And then, in the very next moment, they bring us to our knees. Nothing focuses the mind so much as a crisis. Nothing more wounds the soul. They are an ultimate test of leadership capability.

Everyone who has ever lived through a major crisis ...

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