April 2015 | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributors: Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Wharton Leadership Center; Howard Kunreuther, Professor of Decision Sciences and Public Policy and Co-Director of the Wharton Risk Center; and Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, Executive Director of the Wharton Risk Center and Chair of the OECD Secretary-General Board on Financial Management of Catastrophes. They are authors of Leadership Dispatches: Chile’s Extraordinary Comeback from Disaster (Stanford University Press, 2015).
Lead your team or your organization back from a catastrophe by following a six-point leadership checklist.
“A captain’s mettle is not measured when the waters are calm. It is measured when the seas are stormy and today, without a doubt, we are living through tempestuous times.” — Chilean President Sebastián Piñera
Days before taking office in 2010, Chilean president-elect Sebastián Piñera was focused on his plans to revive the economy. He had committed to restoring the country to a 6 percent annual growth, creating a million jobs, increasing an investment rate of 20 percent of GNP to 28 percent, and reducing poverty. Then, on February 27, 2010, the sixth most powerful earthquake ever recorded hit Chile, devastating schools, hospitals, roads, homes, and businesses across a region where 70 percent of the population lived.
Just six weeks later, all of Chile’s schoolchildren had returned to classes. By the end of the year, Chile’s economy was back on track, delivering a strong 6 percent annual growth rate at a time when the world economy was still reeling from the 2008–09 financial crisis. At the end of his four-year term, Piñera and his team delivered on their promises, achieving a 97 percent completion rate of the country’s restoration goals.
With large-scale catastrophes and extreme events of many kinds on the rise in recent years — from technological meltdowns and environmental disasters to financial crises, disease pandemics, international terrorism, and cyber threats — leaders can learn much from those who have already faced and rebounded from such events. From Chile’s experience, we have identified six leadership principles for coming back from a catastrophe that can be used to prepare for, confront, and overcome low-likelihood but high-impact events.
A Leadership Checklist for Coming Back from a Catastrophe:
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools Academic Director is Professor John Paul MacDuffie, Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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