One of the best questions I heard during my Coast Guard career was at a training session before one of my sea tours: “Does the captain need to be the best shipdriver?” I will let you imagine how that conversation went with a classroom full of some pretty hard over type A personalities. The instructor allowed the group to stew for a few minutes and then gave a great answer. “No. But the captain needs to know who the best shipdriver is.” That response struck a chord then and still does.
That answer gets to the heart of three related concepts vital to leadership; know your team, train your team, and provide for your team. This is true for an individual leader or crisis team – knowing your team is critical to success.
A crisis team needs to have a high-level, cross-functional understanding of the entire organization and its strategic goals to make the right decisions during a disruptive event. That fundamental knowledge will form a strong exercise/training program that includes training the crisis team itself. Training may include tabletop discussions of a disruptive event, it could be helping develop or update resiliency plans, or it could be a full exercise. During a disruptive event, departments will first ensure their people's safety and then determine what recovery strategies apply to the situation. A leader or crisis team can be instrumental in accelerating that response by securing a host of resources:
- · helping redeploy people to areas that need assistance
- · ensuring teams have the right equipment to accomplish their business capabilities
- · removing obstacles for team members impacted by a natural disaster
Even great leaders or leadership teams cannot accomplish that alone, but great leaders know who they can turn to in a crisis – great leaders know who the best shipdriver is before sailing toward shoal water.