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Ed O'Malley

Ed O'Malley

A former state legislator and gubernatorial aide, Ed O’Malley is President and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center, a first-of-its-kind training center charged with fostering large-scale civic leadership for healthier communities. He tweets at eomalley.

The gumption to act

Gumption distinguishes "ordinary" people who, in a crisis, take action like a passenger reportedly did recently to foil a terrorist attack on a Detroit bound airliner.

Part of leadership, in a crisis situation or any other, is having the gumption to believe your approach is valuable and worth advancing. You must have the gumption to believe you are best suited to intervene and, if it is a crisis situation, to bring order.

Can gumption be taught? Yes. Its friendlier name may be self-confidence, and it should be taught by parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, rabbis and others to children and adults alike. It isn't likely a skill that can be taught in a leadership workshop, but it is a critical component of leadership and action in crisis.

By Ed O'Malley

 |  December 31, 2009; 7:19 AM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I don't think anyone who sat their with less than perfect information on what the guy was doing was wrong.

Had the person not had a bomb and only had a strange itch--Jasper would have looked like some crazy loon and possible racist.

But we owe him so much more than we know. Another 9/11 incident would have hurt America and world confidence.

Posted by: 411Tibby | January 4, 2010 12:40 PM
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A key difference is that in the post 9/11 world, a highjacking or attempted bombing on an airliner is no longer a criminal act -- it is an act of war. Prior to 9/11 the accepted wisdom was to "go along" and get out of the situation. That can no longer be a sane course of action. Vigorous, swift, unrelenting application of force is the only rational action to take when there is time to take any action whatsoever. The Underpants Bomber is lucky that he was alive when the plane landed. The actions of the passengers were less a question of leadership than a statement on the will to survive.

Posted by: billfink | January 4, 2010 8:39 AM
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