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Walter F. Ulmer, Jr.
Military leader/Scholar

Walter F. Ulmer, Jr.

Walter Ulmer, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General, consults on executive leadership and the management of complex organizations.

The Most Important Behavior

We have a lot of information on this one, going back a long, long way! Captain Sullenberger and his marvelous January performance of ditching in the Hudson exemplified the three leader behaviors essential in avoiding panic in the ranks.

One: Keep cool, remain steadfast, and set the anti-panic mode. Two: Make critical decisions on time and explain them. Three: Keep people informed about the situation and the possible future. Among these three, as George Orwell might say, "All behaviors are important, but some are more important than others." And the most important is leader example.

In all venues--on Wall Street, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and on the mountaintops of Afghanistan--people watch the leader when crisis is on the horizon. While the greatest of leaders cannot ensure that panic won't arise, leaders in every sector have demonstrated that calm, rational, visible behavior at the top has remarkable impact. Interestingly, it seems that even many of those who had doubted the very existence of "leadership" as a legitimate phenomenon suddenly decide when the going gets tough that having a competent person in charge to rely on is a wonderful boon.

By Walter F. Ulmer, Jr.

 |  April 28, 2009; 10:40 AM ET
Category:  Managing Crises Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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