Webinar Notes: Leadership During Crisis

Leadership During Crisis

Resource Speakers (00:19)

  • Jeff Fox


    • 27 years working in Criminal Justice
    • Worked on event response and management:


      • Floods
      • Hurricanes
      • Snowstorms/ice storm
      • Largest traffic crash in VA
      • Cyber attack
      • Dignitary protection
      • Special event planning
      • Other major crimes


The Justice Clearinghouse (01:18)

  • Peer-to-peer educational program/resource for justice professionals
  • Year-round virtual conference on justice related topics
  • Events are free-to-attend, with subscribers having 24/7 access to recorded webinars and eligible for certifications which may be used for continuing education credits.
  • Interactive webinars with quick polls, Q&A, and survey


Course Description (03:34)

  • Objectives


    • Analyze collaborative leadership
    • Examine emotional intelligence
    • Describe risk communication
    • Deal with conflict management
    • Identify traits of successful crisis leader


The Need for Skilled Crisis Leaders (07:13)

  • Acute threats: Natural or human-caused
  • Crisis caused by dramatic systems change


    • Systems – combination of related parts that make-up a complex whole
  • There are differences between management and leadership
  • A crisis will affect multiple systems; there is a need to manage conflicting goals, values, and responsibilities
  • Workforce changes
  • Impact on people
  • Need for multiple and flexible plans
  • Leaders must influence others in a positive way


Followers vs Leaders vs Managers (11:16)

  • Followers


    • React
    • Listen
    • Spend time with people
    • Fill the calendar with requests
  • Leaders


    • Work on the system


      • Asks why
    • Planning
    • Invest in people
    • Prioritize
    • Do the right thing
  • Managers


    • Work within the system
    • Do things right


Essential Leadership Skill Set (13:15)

  • Elements


    • Collaborative Leadership
    • Systems Thinking
    • Creativity
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Risk Communication
    • Influence and Negotiation
    • Conflict Management
    • Leadership Style


      • Jeff Fox personal style: Fluid


        • Transformational (with sprinkled of transactional as needed)
        • Situational
        • Servant
  • Leadership is complex


    • No set of directions or plan
    • Failure is not an option
    • Consider the totality of systems / bigger picture
    • Accountability for all outcomes
    • People are both predictable and unpredictable
    • Leadership skills must be honed and sharpened
    • Exists at all levels of the organization (informal leader)


Defining/Measuring Crises (17:22)

  • Characteristics


    • Crisis can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone – organization or community
    • Some predictable, some unannounced
    • High degree of instability
    • Potential for extremely negative results
    • Brings dramatic change
  • Case Studies


    • 9/11


      • Pre: lots of mistakes made
      • Post: mix of good and bad
    • Hurricane Katrina


      • Local, state and federal worked together
      • Systems thinking in both response and recovery
    • February 22, 2000 Virginia Traffic Crash


      • 117 Vehicles Pile-up
      • 31 injuries, 1 fatality
      • Poor communication
      • Deviation from plan was necessary to resolve the crisis
  • The Future


    • Pathogens, microbial, virus
    • Crisis will occur inevitably
    • We must be prepared
  • Organizational Crisis Scenarios


    • Hostile takeover (political group takeover)
    • Financial catastrophe
    • Loss of facilities/resourced (burned buildings)
    • Employee sabotage
    • Workplace violence
    • Executive or employee scandal/defection
    • Strike/boycott
    • Act of war
    • Terrorism/crime
    • Accident
    • Natural disaster


Comparing Incident Command System (ICS) with Crisis Leadership (23:15)


Crisis Leadership

  • Command
  • Control
  • Coordination
  • Highly structured – clear roles and responsibilities
  • Training and exercises are conducted regularly


* Combining the two (ICS & CL) will result in better crisis leadership scenario


  • Leadership isn’t just a title or position
  • Leadership skills can be learned/honed


    • Seminars
    • Books
    • Case studies
  • Communication
  • Clarifying vision and values
  • Caring


Leadership’s Role in a Crisis (24:30)

  • Set the tone through example and conduct
  • Leaders must pay attention to the components of influence


    • Positional Power
    • Emotion
    • Expertise
    • Non-verbal signals
  • Positive impact on the very human, emotional charged climate
  • Leaders cannot rely on authoritarian or fear tactics to get results
  • Focus on the right/important things
  • It's like a war zone out there! (Crisis Leadership by Gene Klann)


    • Prepare for combat – military focus during peacetime
    • Military training teaches how to deal with a range of emotions


      • Apprehension
      • Grief
      • Rage
      • Revenge
      • Loneliness
      • Sadness
      • Repulsion
      • Vigilance
      • Anguish
      • Guilt
    • Leaders must deal with their own emotions and the emotions of those under their charge


Crisis Leadership

  • Communication (28:38)


    • Winston Churchill in WWII


      • Well-honed communication strategy
      • Clear, articulate verbal expression
      • Careful listening
      • Body language
      • Clear, concise and straightforward writing style
  • A Real Crisis Leader (29:48)


    • General Hal Moore


      • Three strikes and you're not out. There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.
      • A leader must ask, “What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing, and what am I not doing that I should be doing?”.
      • A leader must be visible and exhibit confidence under any set of circumstances. The determination to prevail must be felt by all.
      • A leader must always be ready! When there is nothing going wrong, there’s nothing going wrong except there is nothing going wrong.
      • Trust your instinct. Instincts and intuition give you an immediate estimation of a situation.
      • Everything in leadership boils down to judgment. Intelligence and good character do not imply you have good judgment.
      • Study history and leadership qualities. Pay special attention to why leaders fail.
      • A person in a position of authority does not automatically become immediately respected or trusted. This is earned.
      • Every person in an organization is as important and necessary to a mission as the next person. That goes from the top to the bottom.
      • Instill the will to win. There can be no second-place trophies on display – awarded or accepted.
      • Never deprive a person of their self-respect. NEVER!
      • To do well in any field of endeavor, it is an advantage to work with good people.
      • Strive to have one or two people around you who are totally trustworthy
      • Spend quality time with the team, learning who they are and what motivates them. Create a family.
      • Great leaders learn to lead themselves first. Before you can lead others, leading self successfully must be accomplished day in and day out.
      • Successful leaders create the future.
      • Leaders must be lead. Be the first boots on the ground and the last boots off.
  • Clarity of Vision and Values (35:11)


    • Martin Luther King (and the civil rights movement)


      • Personal and/or organizational values
      • People need to:


        • Understand it
        • Feel ownership
        • Endorse it
      • During a crisis, leaders can leverage and use the vision and values as a rallying point
  • Caring (36:07)


    • Mayor Randy Giuliani (during 9/11 response)


      • Sincere interest and genuine interest for others
      • Treat others with:


        • Respect
        • Dignity
        • Approval
        • Appreciation
        • Attention
        • Significance
        • Value
        • Trust
      • Presence; leading by example
  • Emotional Intelligence (37:40)


    • The ability and capacity to recognize personal feelings and the feelings and emotional reactions of others (Goleman, 1998).
    • Leaders must also be able to manage their emotions and feelings in their relationships with others (Rowitz, 2006).
    • Require a balance between heart and head.
  • Competence (39:56)


    • Cannot be disguised by


      • Personality
      • Political skills
      • Wit
    • Incompetence multiplies employee anxiety and reduces confidence
  • Decisiveness (41:00)


    • Get the facts, make a decision and move on.
    • A wrong decision that promotes action is better than doing anything
    • No analysis paralysis allowed
    • Don’t let another agency drag you down a rabbit hole
    • Influence decision-making means gathering information and getting inputs as soon as possible


      • Knowing that all the information needed to make the decision isn’t available
      • Accepting that there are risks involved
      • Getting recommendations from others
      • Listening to gut feeling
      • Knowing what’s moral and ethical
      • Making decisions that need to be made
  • Courage (42:31)


    • Have the courage to:


      • Tell the truth under difficult circumstances
      • Make hard decisions
      • Answer tough questions
      • Face an unhappy crowd
      • Accept responsibility
    • Start with a clear code of personal values, ethics, and standard
    • Calculated risk-taking
    • It’s okay to be scared, nervous and/or worried


      • But it is not okay to let these feeling stop, control or define you


Preparing for Crisis (44:03)

  • Never too early to prepare
  • Begin with a self-assessment
  • Conduct an organizational assessment


    • Focus on human resource and their readiness


      • Training
      • Skills
    • Do they clearly understand the vision/values?
    • How do you demonstrate that you care?
  • Systems View


    • Community Assessment
    • Intra- and/or inter-agency assessment


Recovery and Rebuilding (45:23)

  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint
  • Continuously assess progress
  • Focus on mental health as well as physical health


    • It's okay to ask for help
  • Enlist support of others
  • 3 Cs Model


    • Communication
    • Cooperation
    • Coordination
    • + Command (Leadership and Management)
  • Involve everyone in “lessons learned” events
  • Understand what resiliency means and prepare for it


    • Bounce Back (Major General Bob Deeds)


Recap (47:45)

  • Leaders must be engaged before, during and after a crisis.
  • Leaders must be familiar with ICS
  • Crisis leaders must be skilled in


    • Communication
    • Clarifying vision and values
    • Demonstrating caring at all time, not just during crisis
  • Leaders must continuously hone their skills and its effectiveness




Crisis Leadership by Gene Klann

The Politics of Crisis Management by Arjen Boin, Paul Hart, Eric Stern, and Bengt Sundelius

Emergency Management by Lucien G. Canton

Crisis Leadership Planning for the Unthinkable by Ian Mitroff


Quick poll

  • Have you ever been involved or impacted by a crisis (disaster, emergency event, or major incident)? *as a follower or leader (03:52)


    • Yes       70%
    • No       30%
  • If you answered yes, how well was the crisis handled by the leaders? (05:25)


    • Excellent          9%
    • Good               53%
    • Ok                    32%
    • Not so good    4%
    • Very poorly      1%
  • How prepared or ready are you to be an effective crisis leader right now? (48:39)


    • Very prepared             17%
    • Prepared                     62%
    • Not very prepared       20%



For questions and clarifications, contact:


Fox Public Safety: Training, Educating and Consulting LLC

Website: https://www.fox-publicsafety.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-jeff-fox-phd-5b103848/

Online Training: https://foxpublicsafety.eleapcourses.com/index/privacy_policy




During a crisis, how do you stress to leadership the importance of not having a reactive mentality when engaging with the campus and local community? (51:58)

The best way to do it is in advance through training. The planning process and the plan are important. Have periodic meetings and debriefings to come up with action plans. You may get the public information office involved


How is a bad decision good, maybe when patience and more informed decision-making is needed in order to avoid a bad decision and maybe potentially acclimate its outcome? (53:34)

You must have a balance. I doubt that we’ll ever have all the facts we want. Not to be done prematurely, but you need enough information to go on. Once you have a reasonably good amount of information then you can move forward.


Are there approaches that you recommend short term – immediately after the incident, and longer term to try to avoid those negative implications for our public safety professional? (55:28)

Short term: Critical Incident and Stress Management courses.

Long term: Watch out for signs and symptoms of PTSD. Acknowledge and recognize it happens.

Provide: Spiritual support, massage therapy, physical health.



“There is a time for tears, and there is a time not for tears. There is a time to grieve, and there is a time not to grieve. We have to maintain control of our emotions during the chaos. We have to help our people maintain and control their emotions during the chaos.”


“If you studied the Civil War, I am a big fan of Robert E. Lee. But he made mistakes at times, because a couple of times, he made his communications a little vague, and his generals thought one way and he was thinking another way. And we’ve seen that throughout history. If you’re not specific, sometimes people are going to interpret it the way they want to.”


“I want you to trust your instincts, but… I think that’s true for most people but if you have not prepared yourself, you might not have any instincts. So, you had to have instincts that you can trust to begin with.”


“This is so critical, I can’t emphasize this enough – never ever deprive a person of their self-respect. Don’t ever do it. Especially because not only are you depriving that person of their self-respect. Other people are seeing you do that and it’s going to damage you, and it’s just not right to do. Praise in public, correct in private if you can.”


“I had a couple of guys I work with, and the running joke was to complain to one about another one would be like complaining to Attila the Hun about Hitler. That’s pretty bad when that’s what you’re known as. And Attila the Hun or Hitler, they did have no goodwill, and ruled totally through fear and intimidation”

Additional Resources
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