Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré (Ret.) knows a thing or two about effective leadership. The following is from a post on Business Without Borders:
Over a distinguished 37-year career, Honoré led the U.S. military’s response to numerous crisis situations, ranging from the sniper shooting spree that terrorized Washington D.C. in 2002, to the devastation and civil unrest unleashed on the American South by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, when he famously told a reporter not to get ‘stuck on stupid’.
From a managerial standpoint, Hurricane Katrina is rightly remembered as a disaster and shameful condemnation of the Bush administration’s ability to handle a crisis. However, while much about Katrina was botched on a federal and local level (namely an aggressive response to looting by the local New Orleans police department). However, it was General Honoré who arrived on the scene with a cool head and empathetic leadership, and he is much beloved by the residents of New Orleans for it.
Drawing from his years of management experience and crisis leadership, Lt. Gen. Honoré recently spoke at a conference on collaboration at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada where he shared his wisdom and insights.
Here are some highlights of the aforementioned Business Without Borders post, straight from the General.
1. “Command and control will not serve the future.”
Effective leaders should work to put their egos aside and learn to share control over decision-making. Hierarchical thinking is very often a barrier to achieving results. An effective response to most modern challenges requires multiple groups to act together. Egos and hierarchy get in the way of effective collaboration and wise decision-making. According to Honoré:
The U.S. Army revolutionized how it makes decisions because technology-enabled collaboration is superior to centralized decision making in today’s complex world of interconnected risks, opportunities and challenges. Other organizations, including corporations, should do the same because collaboration across boundaries leads to bottom-up information flow, which may have saved a few U.S. banks during the financial crisis.
2. “The first casualty in any emergency is the disaster plan.”
Effective leadership and forethought call for the ability to imagine and plan for worst case situations and challenges (disasters included) and then having the ability to reformulate a plan based on the information you are actually receiving, not what you’d imagined or planned to receive.
3. Use trained facilitators.
Bring in outside experts to teach your team the skills they need. Outside experts carry an authority that sidesteps egos and “in-house” rivalries and puts your team in the best position to assimilate information. “Without trained facilitators, egos and mistrust get in the way,” says Mike Prevou, a coach who co-founded the U.S. Army’s Battle Command Knowledge System Program. A good facilitator allows even the most intense and competitive CEOs to let their guards down and become students, which is essential for maximum idea-absorption, not only for themselves, but for their entire organization.