Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina: A Failure in Leadership

The handling of Hurricane Katrina, before and after the event, is an embarrassment to this country. While the efforts seem like they may be moving now, the initial tragic and substandard results from our leaders stem primarily from a failure in their leadership at the Federal level all the way down to the local level. We see politicos, the mainstream media and bloggers flinging blame at local, state and the feds largely along party lines. I say they are all accountable for their part. Yet, I am still waiting to hear one “leader” take accountability for failures in action (or inaction).

Instead of “The Buck Stops Here”, we have leaders passing the buck, tap-dancing their way around the situation and in some cases what appears to be outright deception. Truman had that famous sign on his desk specifically because he believed, as good leaders do, that they are accountable to make decisions. Beyond that, it is the responsibility of leaders to ensure decisions are executed by their people. Instead what we got was the typical litany of task forces, press conferences and meetings with poor execution of the actual work. Planning and discussions were happening early enough at various levels even though everything that should have been done was not necessarily getting done. City and State governments, FEMA and other agencies have plans and conduct drills for just these sorts of circumstances. To hear a leader say they did not think these things would happen is a sham and a clear sign of incompetence. The evidence is quite the contrary (just like 9/11). No, the results of these tragedies are due to poor leadership and execution.

Clear evidence of this can be highlighted by excuses like, “we were waiting for the state governments” or "we are waiting for the feds". A good leader is proactive not reactive. A good leader looks beyond what is front of their nose and bureaucracy and makes the right things happen at the right time consistently. A good leader marshals the resources they need (not just their own) and rallies people to perform at great levels in worst of conditions. We have also heard the President, on more than one occasion say, “Its hard work” (albeit, not in this case). Well, yes it is. That is why we expect the best people to be in the job and that they are held accountable to do their job. The stakes are too high to fail in protecting the public. If it were easy, anybody could do it. Leaders at these levels are accountable for results, not simply to work hard.

So to the leaders from the President all the way down to the local folks (AWOL cops too) I say: You are leaders sworn to protect and serve, do your job.



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Best Wishes,
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3:03 PM  

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