While I am traveling, and not consuming much news, I am aware of the Nissan Pathfinder that caused all of the problems in Times Square last night. This post isn’t meant to make light of the situation, but rather to use it as a chance to illuminate us of some important leadership lessons.
We often are aware of risks. Officials have long felt Times Square would be a logical place for someone to “attack” because of a number of factors. Yesterday, that risk became reality. Because of the known risks, I am confident the officials were better prepared in Times Square than they might have been in say, Tupelo, MS (no offense to the officials there meant at all).
- What are you doing to be alert for risks?
- What risks are you aware of?
- Are you adequately preparing yourself and your team for them?
People often overstate a situation. This is a corollary of the “there has never been positive gossip” principle. Of course had the bomb detonated, there would have been damage, and potentially loss of life. At the same time the experts say it would have been more of an incendiary event than an explosion. My point? As leaders we must understand risks in a situation without overstating them or allowing people to stress beyond what is needed.
- Are you clear on the issues and risks in a crisis?
- Are you able to keep others calm and ready to be productive?
Unexpected situations provide learning opportunities. Do you think that events of the last 36 hours have provided learning opportunities for officials, individual police officers and much more? There is no question about it! (And it is providing one for us as leaders too – otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post.) they key goes beyond nodding and agreeing there are learning opportunities. The key is in seizing them. As a leader we must lead others in learning from these situations by providing process, time and discipline for identification and application of these lessons.
- What did you learn from your last unexpected situation?
- What plans and processes do you have in place to make sure that these lessons continue to be learned regularly?
- How will you hep others do the same?
There are many other lessons that you might take from these events – and as the story develops there may be many more. I hope I have given you the urging and impetus to continue to look for and find them for yourself.