research@hec - Issue #17 - (Page II)

How to Find Good Crisis Leaders before Trouble Strikes research Amy Sommer BIOGRAPHY joined the HEC Paris faculty in September 2010. She holds a PhD in business administration from the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business (Canada) and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University. Her research focuses on how leadership and team dynamics influence effectiveness, especially in difficult and crisis situations. A byproduct of the numerous large-scale health and safety crises (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, H1N1, BP Oil spill, etc.) that have stuck in recent times has been displays of both extraordinary leadership and huge struggles to deal with situations. What characterizes the people who have led well? Amy Sommer and her co-researchers have found that crisis leaders’ strength lies in their ability to effectively assess the information at hand—however incomplete or emotionally-challenging—and make good decisions, despite the circumstances. The researchers developed and tested a tool (the CLEAD Scale) that helps identify the people able to make decisions in crisis situations most easily, comfortably, and accurately. And they are not necessary same people who score high on general leadership assessment tests! Amy Sommer and her research partners have developed a tool—the C-LEAD scale*—to identify people likely to make good crisis leaders. In contrast training, for instance. to general leadership assessment tools, C-LEAD effectively detects people’s QUICK INFORMATION ASSESSMENT & PROCESSING The fundamental difference between general leadership and leadership during a health or safety crisis is that in the second case, leaders’ decisions truly have a life or death impact. So while general leadership strengths like knowledge, skill, and vision are not insignificant during a major crisis, they are significantly outweighed by a person’s ability to deal with information. In other words, the best crisis leaders are those who can detect, assess, and act on information, and to do so quickly. A fire capacity to process information and make good decisions, despite high pressures. C-LEAD also reveals motivation and willingness to lead in crisis situations, both of which contribute to better decision-making. Sommer explains that once the right people have been identified, her research suggests you can truly stacking the deck in their favor by providing them with crisis preparation via simulation hec MOTIVATION, QUALITY DECISIONS, AND WILLINGNESS TO LEAD “You cannot assume that the person who possesses the ability to lead in a crisis will necessarily volunteer to be a crisis leader,” says Sommer. “That is why it is important to identify not only who is capable, but also who is motivated to take on this role.” Sommer found that people who score higher on the C-LEAD scale are more motivated to lead in a crisis and are more likely to step up and volunteer chief who successfully handled a nightclub fire where 100 people were killed testifies, “You have to be much more focused on what it is you’ve got to do now and use the sort of iterative process of saying, ‘We’ve made that decision, now what are the consequences that we didn’t predict?’ I think it’s quite a different leadership function largely because of the need to act in the absence of a lot of information.” Implicit in effective information processing is the capacity to filter out “noise” that otherwise hinder detection of critical signals. “Crisis leadership efficacy is both a cognitive and an emotional process. Crises inevitably produce stress and anxiety, which strains information processing and effective decision making. Good leaders identify the important signals and make effective decisions, despite the incomplete information, high stakes and urgency of the situation,” says Sommer. II research@hec • october-november 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of research@hec - Issue #17

Cover & Contents
How to Find Good Crisis Leaders before Trouble Strikes
Impact of Social Movements on Financial Institutions
European Law: The Impact of Soft Law on the Courts
The Economic Impact of Academic Entrepreneurship

research@hec - Issue #17

research@hec - Issue #17 - Cover & Contents (Page I)
research@hec - Issue #17 - How to Find Good Crisis Leaders before Trouble Strikes (Page II)
research@hec - Issue #17 - How to Find Good Crisis Leaders before Trouble Strikes (Page III)
research@hec - Issue #17 - Impact of Social Movements on Financial Institutions (Page IV)
research@hec - Issue #17 - Impact of Social Movements on Financial Institutions (Page V)
research@hec - Issue #17 - European Law: The Impact of Soft Law on the Courts (Page VI)
research@hec - Issue #17 - European Law: The Impact of Soft Law on the Courts (Page VII)
research@hec - Issue #17 - The Economic Impact of Academic Entrepreneurship (Page VIII)
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