On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

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.

Bullhorn and bully pulpit

In a crisis, the president, or any top political figure, must:

Focus the nation's attention. Leverage all those microphones thrust in your face. Use the bully pulpit to draw our attention to the crisis. Communicate quickly and frequently with the people about ways they can engage. In clear and concise ways, remind us that aiding the victims taps into some of our most noble national values - charity, sacrifice and community. Clear your schedule. Show us your sacrifice. Give words to the sympathy we feel for the victims. Convene and focus the private sector. Most importantly, communicate from your heart and soul.

Relentlessly clear barriers. Demand, expect and hold people accountable to relief action at every level of government. Eliminate red tape. Give quiet permission to bend rules to expedite help for those in need. Do this for expediency, knowing that some resources will be spent unwisely. Many months or years later, when criticism comes (and it will) for the inefficiency of the relief effort, stand tall, own it and explain it. Help us understand that in a crisis, the only thing that matters is relief to our brothers and sisters, whether in America, Haiti or elsewhere.

Read all panel responses to the On Leadership question: What is the best role for a top political leader in a response to natural disaster such as Haiti's? Daily progress meetings at the White House? Symbolic on-the-scene consultations and relief work? Announcing big budget Marshall Plans?

By Ed O'Malley

 |  January 16, 2010; 5:38 AM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Keep it on the front pages | Next: Chief coordinator

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company