Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Crisis leadership – not for the chicken-hearted

Succession plans would be crucial during a pandemic. Some organizations may want to name co-CEOs or co-presidents. And every CEO will want to build a team of top-notch people to share responsibility for solving the novel, complex problems that will inevitably arise. This team will be better equipped to solve problems, and will provide bench strength, in case the leader becomes ill.

Abraham Lincoln is the great American model for this collaborative approach to crisis leadership. As Doris Kearns Goodwin describes in her biography “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” (October 2005), Lincoln draft ed a wartime brain trust of former political rivals. He knew that Edwin M. Stanton had dismissed him as a country bumpkin, but he also believed that Stanton was the secretary of war the nation needed.

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