Crisis leadership from a commander
Over the past eight years of war, "13 killed, 30 injured" is a headline military members are used to hearing from Iraq and Afghanistan. Acts of violence and death are supposed to happen "over there," not here in United States and especially not at an Army post. Like the many Americans, I watched the news as events unfolded at Fort Hood. I have many colleagues and former students with their families stationed there.
So what does the story of Fort Hood have to do with leadership? In the time of confusion and crisis, the new commander, Lieutenant General Bob Cone, spoke to the press so that he could communicate to his soldiers, civilians, and families. While he was himself visibly shaken by the shootings, Lt. Gen. Cone sought to provide a calming influence to the community.
He laid out the facts as he knew them. He was empathetic to those whose loved ones were dead or injured. He acknowledged the critical role that police and other military members provided as first responders to the crisis. He was there in body and spirit. He had the implicit trust of the community that he would do whatever he could to protect and defend its members. Lt. Gen. Cone did what we needed and expected--he called upon to lead, and he led!
Col. Charles Allen wrote earlier this week about how past acts of violence among military personnel have affected public trust in the military.
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