Thursday, April 15, 2010

The crisis 'blame game'

The blame game is inevitable in crises and this is particularly evident related to the Royal Commission Inquiry into the Black Saturday February 7, 2009 Australian bushfires in the State of Victoria.

Blame for the warning system, for emergency preparedness, and leadership of coordinated responses has been levelled at the Chief Fire Officer of the Authority, and further blame is now being levelled at the then Police Commissioner, who held a senior Disaster Plan responsibility and has been questioned about her failure to perform her duty on the day. She is particularly criticised for "leaving her post" although she had delegated her role to take a break for dinner.

More than ever, crisis leaders are met with increased scrutiny from key stakeholders about their strategic thinking and their integrity of leadership. What is clear is the court of public opinion's perception of their leadership in crisis. And often that is shaped by the leaders' personal attributes and values and not their response process management. Too often some media will focus on a leader's lack of integrity and decisiveness which leads to serious negative perceptions of what otherwise was a job well done.

In the end, a leader's role in times of crisis is to communicate a vision and reassure stakeholders of what is happening and the direction of the response. Every crisis leader is on "centre stage" and under public scrutiny from the beginning to the end recovery.

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