Leadership Lessons In Times of Crisis

Posted by on July 15, 2016

Last Thursday night, my city experienced the deadliest attack on police since 9/11. Five officers were killed (as we all know too well after watching the unspeakable sadness of five funeral processions this week). This tragedy has brought many important conversations to the forefront about policing, guns and racial relations and I’m pleased to see that – at least in Dallas – there are leaders stepping up from all parts of this city to work on the hard stuff and have the difficult conversations that can heal and unify.


I have the pleasure of serving on the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (DCVB) Board of Directors and through that board service I’ve met an incredible person named Noelle LeVeaux, who is the chief marketing officer of the DCVB. Just after the tragedy, she was quoted in The Dallas Morning News saying something that really stuck with me. She said, “You are most genuine and authentic and the core of who you are, not when things are perfect but when things are horrible, tragic, scary and uncertain.” And this woman knows what she’s talking about because she battled breast cancer, chemo and all that came with it last year and into 2016, which she told a reporter recently has completely changed her perspective.

When we face crisis in our lives, whether it’s personal or professional, I’ve learned from others that how you handle it, how you show up, and what you say has tremendous impact.

Our city leaders like Mayor Mike Rawlings, and Dallas Police Chief David Brown, demonstrated impressive leadership in the wake of the shootings and throughout this week during the memorial services, including the collective service that was attended by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill.

Here’s what I saw from the Mayor and our Police Chief that maybe we can all consider as we have a gut check on our own leadership when times get tough:

  • Assess the situation – be prepared to make tough decisions but listen to people you trust and gather the facts as our Police Chief did during the shooting.
  • Take action and show courage – sometimes as the leader you have to make the call and provide direction.
  • Demonstrate calm – you can control your response even if you can’t control the event.
  • Remain focused – in a crisis you’ll have many voices around you and often an air of panic and fear, so as the leader you have to be the one to help focus the response.

I’m learning daily to be a better leader but I’m proud to have examples to model right in my backyard. #DallasStrong


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