A crisis or incident management team needs a leader – that’s pretty much a given. So the obvious thing to do is to give the role to the most senior person in the organisation. And, more often than not, that’s exactly what happens – the Chief Exec is nominated as the person to head up the incident management team. But is that the right decision?
The problem is that the CEO often has some quite important other stuff to do. Like talking to the media or other stakeholders, for instance. Which, let’s face it, is a big enough task in its own right, without adding to it the equally big task of managing the incident.
And anyway, what people want most from their leaders in a crisis is leadership. So we might be better off getting our glorious leader to act like one and, as importantly, to be seen to be doing so. By putting themselves about – talking to, encouraging and motivating employees, helping them to stay focused on what’s really important. By demonstrating that they’re taking a personal interest in, and responsibility for, the care of those affected and ensuring that their needs are met. By communicating with the various interested parties, such as employees, customers, neighbours, business partners, investors, shareholders, the media and other key stakeholders.
Whilst the incident management team might appreciate a bit of leadership too, it’s a teeny bit difficult to display that leadership to the rest of the organisation if the CEO is hidden away in the incident control centre. Much better then to give them a role that enables them to be visible and to do what, at least in theory, they’re best at.