Leadership in Business Continuity Management (BCM) & Disaster Planning (DR)

I read allot of books on management and leadership; it helps give insight on how to get buy in and work with top tier representatives when trying to develop a BCM/DR/ERM program of just trying to get one back on track.  It also helps me be a stronger leader in the industry and dealing with various clients and their expectations.  One of the things I’ve found over the years – and crops up on many books – is that Leadership and Management are two different things.  Often, corporations believe that if you’re a manager then you’re automatically a leader by default.  Well, that’s not quite true – it can be for some managers – but it’s not a guarantee.

Here’s the dictionary definition of the two:

  1. Leader – A person who guides and      inspires others.
  2. Manager – A person who directs, controls      and manipulates the resources of an organization, division or department.

As you can see, one can be the other but rarely are they found to be both; especially during a disaster or crisis.  A good manager – an inspiring manager – can step up to be a leader during a crisis and a leader during normal’ Business as Usual’ timeframes can sometimes fall flat and just be a manager; forgetting how to lead under pressure and stress.

A good or great leader during a disaster or crisis is not determined by their title, though many believe it is automatic.  Not true.  Leadership qualities can suddenly appear from the most timid of people; it all depends on how they respond to the situation.  Just because someone has the title of Vice-President, it doesn’t mean they are calm under pressure (i.e. disasters) of that they have the following and support of their employees – and direct reporting managers.

What makes a great leader during a crisis, even if they aren’t normally a leader, a manager or sometimes just being a regular employee?

It really depends upon how they respond, work and communicate under pressure.  If they remain calm and focus on the key/core items related to the situation at hand, they will instil confidence; have poise and optimism in themselves, their staff, the community, the media and the general public.  If they seem indecisive and calm under pressure to all that observe them, even if in private they might be a bundle of nerves.

These somehow can operate under stressful and strained circumstances and people pay attention to their direction; they follow the leader.  Managers that believe they are leaders without inspiring their employees and those around them, aren’t leaders, they are just managers of their resources.

In a disaster, a leader must be a quick thinker, able to distinguish the big picture and the overall objective from the detailed – sometimes personal – perspectives people have on a situation.  It’s all about how they respond and react and then project the right response out to others.

Another great aspect of a leader during a crisis is that they listen; they pay attention to the words of others.  Let’s face it, all great leaders – corporate and political – have people who offer advice and guidance on various subjects.  When a disaster occurs, the leader must still be able to listen and take advice from these individuals and at the same time, make sure that his or her advisors are focusing on the right subject matter to bring the situation to a healthy response and quick resolution.  They’ll remove the roadblocks for individuals as they work through their own responsibilities to enable them to perform the functions required from them.  This is something a great leader does during normal business operations as well, not just during a disaster.

A great crisis leader also passes along their lessons learned from previous crises and delivers it to others in a way that will help others grow and individuals and possibly become leaders themselves.

Yes, everyone is different and it is these differences that will separate the leaders from the managers from the followers.  The followers will change course if the leader isn’t strong and instils confidence but then again, a strong leader will change course when the existing strategy isn’t working; they aren’t afraid to keep moving and address the situation at hand as it develops and meanders its way to resolution.

These are the kind of people you want to have on your Crisis Management teams; those that make the ‘big’ decisions and provide direction to the organization.  You want the organization to follow them; so choose the best leaders for the job, whether they are a lower, middle or senior management representative or not.



 “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility” and “Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

Available at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com


One thought on “Leadership in Business Continuity Management (BCM) & Disaster Planning (DR)

  1. Great blog – these distinctions are very important and the ability to keep the big picture in mind while still looking at the details of the situation is key to continuity management. Not the only key but maybe the most important key. There’s something very special about blending the hi/lo tensions of trust, confidence, and culture that leadership has to do at just the right moment. I’d like to see a professional term for this ability. Any ideas? leaderscope? Super myopic binoculars?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s