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By Randall Hanifen
Contributor, EDM Digest
Many emergency management students study leadership and management as a part of their education. There are as many theories related to leadership and management as there are scholars who produce these theories.
It is important to understand emergency management’s academic literature and be able to add to that literature once you attain the necessary academic credentials and experience. But it is a good idea to learn from practical applications of leadership as well.
Rudy Giuliani: a Case Study of Good Emergency Management Leadership
Rudolph Giuliani was a little-known name outside New York until 9/11. Now, 16 years later, the former mayor of New York City still appears on news and public affairs programs, providing his assessment of leadership and management-related public policy and politics. Giuliani gained his reputation as an emergency management guru because of the leadership he showed after the World Trade Center terrorist attack.
While Giuliani’s leadership appeared to arise from unexpected circumstances – at the time, no one imagined that a plane could be used to attack an bring down a Manhattan skyscraper – the truth is that this type of leadership was in the making for many years. Giuliani’s preparation for that tragic day was developed long before 9/11.
Although Giuliani took the limelight, he had placed directors below him who could think ahead to a potential crisis and provide the information he needed in a quick fashion. Good preparation is the hallmark of crisis communication and resolution.
If you make up information or try to gain information as a crisis unfolds, the public senses the unpreparedness and loses faith in their leaders’ abilities. That is what happened to Michael Brown, the former FEMA director, during Hurricane Katrina.
Business Leaders Are Also Inspiring Examples of Leadership
One of the best-known investors in the world is Warren Buffett. He has amassed a fortune from his investing skills.
When people ask him to speak and reveal how he has been so successful, Buffett often comments that he is a much-disciplined investor who spends most of his days reading. He says he got very good at knowing his area of investing and he tends to stay within that realm. Buffett was widely known for not investing in the dot.com boom.
Using Buffett’s example of leadership, we can teach future emergency managers that you must be very good at your job from a technical perspective. Emergency managers once were the police and fire chiefs who were promoted to emergency management. While there are some positives and negatives from that former practice, we now have a wide range of people entering emergency management through degree programs.
Emergency Management Education Goes beyond Just Earning a Degree
Degrees are great at teaching the philosophy and basic educational dimensions of emergency management. However, it is also important for developing emergency managers to receive hands-on experience that coincides with their education.
You must master all aspects of emergency management. Be sure to read every bit of information you can that is related to emergency management and diversify your sources of information. These various sources offer differing perspectives, which are necessary for you to fully understand your position as an emergency manager.