Prepare Well:Eye of the Leadership Hurricane

As for so many on the East Coast, the last few days have been all about hurricanes, as we prepare for Hurricane Sandy. It’s fascinating to watch the varying approaches from neighbors and friends. I wonder, are we all working to prepare for the same storm?

One friend posted her tongue in cheek Facebook update that she had made 12 jars of strawberry jam, just in case. Another shared that she had “cleaned the house from top to bottom and done all the laundry.” I glanced for a moment at my laundry piling up, and then moved on.

My husband, a fireman, shared that many people with medical conditions will call for an ambulance now, so that they can be safe and get the support they need if the electricity goes out.There are some for whom thinking ahead is a matter of life and death.

As leaders, how we prepare and respond to real and figurative hurricanes is vital. Our teams are watching us more than ever looking for direction, but also for emotional cues.

Times like this call for a complex balancing of critical leadership priorities. As a kid, I always thought it would be cool to be the guy in charge of closing schools for snow. I no longer envy that role. As a leader I find myself making very similar decisions, with serious potential consequences and many complex issues. It’s some of the most complex decision-making around.

  • How do we keep people safe?
  • What do customers need most during this critical time?
  • What must be re-prioritized?
  • What if?

How to Prepare Well

Get the facts

It’s easy to react to emotion and hype. Tap into experts and get the data you need to make rational choices

Plan for contingencies

Consider all the key variables at play and plan for each one. This takes time, but makes for quicker and better decisions when the time comes

Get the RIGHT people involved.

Everyone will have an opinion, much of which will be colored by their own personal circumstances and reaction to the crises. You want input, but this is not the time to go for 100% consensus.

Be prepared to regroup

Circumstances may change. Set frequent check-in points to assess new data and be prepared to


In times of crises, communication reduces stress. Communicate through many channels and then communicate again, not just what is happening, but why

Listen to your heart

Don’t start there, first get the facts. However, your leadership instincts can go a long way on this. Play out the various choices in your mind. Talk through them with trusted advisors. What does you heart say?