Posted by: Don Linnen | 29 January 2010

Taking Charge

Lots of lessons to be learned in Haiti.  Disaster response in the present.  What led to such a fragile infrastructure in the past. How can correct rebuilding lead to a healthy, self-sufficient nation in the future.

You’d never think of Haiti as being a learning opportunity, but it can become the most significant world university of this young century.  Leadership lessons stand out in any response to tragedy.

The PBS Newshour did a segment on the challenge to provide aid amidst chaos in Haiti.  One of those interviewed was the no-nonsense Lt. General Jay Garner, (Retired) U.S. Army, who commanded the task force that provided humanitarian aid to the Kurds in Northern Iraq after the first Gulf War.

The scene in Haiti at the time was one of total chaos and massive confusion. It’s a little better now, but there were some real struggles to get anything done in the first days after the earthquake.  Many people, military and civilian alike, were waiting on someone to tell them what to do.  I resonated with Garner’s blunt comment on the situation.

“You don’t wait on leadership.  In the absence of leadership, you take charge and you make things happen.” – Lt Gen Jay Garner, January 19, 2010

Truer words have rarely been spoken.  They especially apply during disasters, but they also apply during the everyday.

If the mission of your organization is important, you need to make things happen.  Nonprofits don’t pay that well, but they are often more than just a job.  If you sense that leadership is missing, it’s up to you to take charge.

That doesn’t mean start a coup.  It does mean to lead, even in small ways, to make things happen.

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