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Crisis Leadership: Using Military Lessons, Organizational Experiences, and the Power of Influence to Lessen the Impact of Chaos on the People You Lead

Crisis Leadership: Using Military Lessons, Organizational Experiences, and the Power of Influence to Lessen the Impact of Chaos on the People You Lead

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Book DescriptionCrisis Leadership: Using Military Lessons, Organizational Experiences, and the Power of Influence to Lessen the Impact of Chaos on the People You Lead (CCL, 2003), by Gene Klann, Ph.D., a member of the Center for Creative Leadership’s training faculty.

Crisis Leadership is designed to help leaders assess their strengths and weaknesses, learn new competencies and prepare for events that are as unpredictable as they are unavoidable. It draws not only on Klann’s experiences atCCL with executives from around the globe, but also on his U.S. Army career, where he advised a South Vietnamese infantry unit during the Vietnam War and commanded a battalion of 600 paratroopers during the first Gulf War.

Klann contends that while the highly charged and often dramatic events surrounding a crisis can profoundly affect the people in an organization and even threaten its survival, there are actions a leader can take before, during and after to reduce the duration and impact of difficult situations. Crisis Leadership outlines those actions, concentrating on three important areas: communication, clarity of vision and values, and caring relationships.

"Leaders who develop and practice these qualities go a long way toward handling the human dimension of a crisis," Klann said. "And in the end, it’s all about the people."

In fact, Klann sees the ability to handle people issues as a key separator between managers and leaders; crisis management relates mainly to operational issues, while crisis leadership deals principally with how leaders handle the human response to a crisis.

Today’s political realities and the interconnectedness of our global economy can create a ripple effect and magnify the human dimensions of acrisis, Klann says, citing as an example the 2001 financial implosion at Enron that sparked a related crisis at Arthur Andersen.

"Leaders must be prepared to manage a crisis not only within their own organization, but also within the greater orbit of their influence – clients and customers, the surrounding community, stockholders, suppliers, vendors, local government, concerned organizations, activist groups and the media," he said.