Tag Archives: New York

September 11th Leadership Lessons

A New York City fireman calls for 10 more resc...

In the hours after the towers came down on September 11th, servant leadership was on fullest display (Image via Wikipedia)

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a great deal will be written about the political, religious, and societal impact of the events of that day.   It has oft been noted that —  like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the death of FDR, and the assassination of JFK — anyone who was alive that day will always remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news of the first plane hitting the tower, and everything that occurred thereafter.

Certainly that is the case for me.   For my part, I wanted to share a few brief thoughts on leadership lessons learned from heroes — most who were “famous” only to their own families prior to that beautiful and awful morning — who answered the call of duty that fateful day.

First Responders: Leading Without Saying A Word

If to lead one must serve, can there be any greater definition of authentic “servant leadership” than someone who runs into a collapsing building when everyone else is running out?  And yet, that is exactly what hundreds of fire fighters, police, emergency personnel, and other first responders did that day — seeking to get as many people to safety as they possibly could.  They saw the task before them, and they acted — not in consideration of their own interests, but of those they were charged with serving. Many thousands lived because of their actions … countless millions more have been inspired by their bravery and selfless service.

Flight 93 Passengers: Observe, Plan, Act … NOW

As we all know now, while events were occuring in New York (World Trade Center) and Washington (Pentagon), another drama was playing out in the skies above western Pennsylvania.  There, a quick-thinking group of individuals — forming one of the most remarkable ad hoc “leadership teams” in history — was determined to do all they could do to influence the unprecedented (and almost wholly incomprehensible) events in which they were now participating.

Observing the unfolding events, they quickly gathered all available data, pieced together a plan, and acted. They didn’t wait for “perfect information,” didn’t wait for others to clear a path through unchartered territory, and didn’t miss their window of opportunity.  They formed a simple and powerful vision with clarity, gathered others onboard, and acted.  We may never know exactly what greater destruction their actions that day saved us from.  We do know that there may never be a greater example of leadership “in the moment” than their stepping forward as “Let’s roll” was declared.

In grateful appreciation.  May their example always serve to uplift and inspire.

Crisis Leadership Lessons from “Blue Bloods”

I’ve become a big fan of the tv series, Blue Bloods.  Starring Tom Selleck as Frank Regan, a fictional New York City Police Commissioner, the beautifully written and acted show chronicles the intersecting public and private lives of the widowed commissioner’s close-knit Irish-Catholic family, who are all in the “family business” of law enforcement (retired cop, streetwise detective, sharp assistant district attorney, and idealistic rookie cop).  It struck me while watching the dramatic season finale last week that the episode offered some excellent lessons in crisis leadership.

Tom Selleck portrays fictional NYC Police Commissioner who leads his department -- and his family -- through a series of crises

Synopsis

The commissioner’s youngest son (the rookie cop) privately pursues leads  regarding his older brother’s murder, which occurred two years earlier in the line of duty.  Finally getting in over his head, he shares the information with his father and brother (detective).  The commissioner sets up a top-secret command post in his own home, staffed by those closest to him, and they eventually discover proof that the son was murdered by a group of rogue cops.  As the rogue cops catch wind of the investigation and are preparing to flee the country with their considerable ill-gotten booty, the commissioner and team swoops in and dramatically captures the group en masse — with the ring leader ultimately choosing suicide over capture.  The resolution finally provides the family with closure about the reason’s behind their older brother’s death.

Crisis Leadership Lessons

  • Trust the voice of “innocents” trying to tell you the truth
    The commissioner trusts his naive but perceptive son (the rookie Continue reading

Halloween Special: Cast of Characters That I’ve Known

In honor of Halloween, I thought I might keep things on the lighter side and walk down “memory lane” a bit, recalling notable “characters” from my years in the working world — or at least situations in which our “best and brightest” thinking didn’t exactly shine through.  Have you known characters or situations like these?  Please share your stories … and we’ll enjoy a (kind-hearted) laugh or two together (all in good fun, of course)!

Characters

. . . Mr. Plant, I Presume: the sales executive who spotted his boss airport and, because he owed him some data that he didn’t have, decided to “hide” … behind a potted plant (yes, this is almost too cliched to be true — but it is)

. . . Just Doing My Nails: the HR person who was so relaxed, she regularly did her nails in team meetings — complete with bag of manicure supplies spread on the table, cotton balls between each finger, etc., etc., etc.

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