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Lisa Larson
Consultant

Lisa Larson

Lisa Larson is the Founder and President of Larson & Partners, LLC. When she is not helping companies optimize the business results delivered from their IT projects, she can be found watching football.

Not blame but responsibility

Q: President Obama finally meets this week with BP chief Tony Hayward on the Gulf oil spill. From a leadership perspective, which man has been the less effective in his handling of the crisis? What should he have done differently?

The model for a public-private partnership to handle disasters is certainly not new -- just ask any fireman who responds to a blaze caused by faulty wiring. As this oil spill has dragged on, Obama and Hayward seem to be confusing accountability with liability. No single party can be held accountable for the accident that caused this oil spill or for its devastating effects. This was a "perfect storm" with many causes, hence the term "accident."

Both parties, however, share liability for the accident and its aftermath and that is where they need to be crystal clear and form an airtight partnership.

BP owns the equipment and has defined their contractual liability with their partners at this site. They also have defined liability to their employees and contractors in the event of an accident, as well as business insurance. The federal government has established agencies to handle disaster response and has defined liability for natural resources and similar domains. But the effects of this disaster are already far outside those boundaries in terms of the impact to individuals' livelihoods, local economies, tourism, the environment, marine life, etc.

In order to be effective leaders at this point, Obama and Hayward need to anticipate the full extent of the liability for this disaster and agree on how they will work together to make it right. Don't leave those who need help in a sticky situation for too long.

By Lisa Larson

 |  June 15, 2010; 3:04 AM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The man who skipped 'Leadership 101' | Next: Why Tony Hayward should 'never complain, never explain'

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Obama seems to think leadership is assigning blame and meting out punishment.

Posted by: bruce18 | June 15, 2010 11:37 AM
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