Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, August 1, 2019

In A Life-Or-Death Crisis, Humility Is Everything

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  In a Life-or-Death Crisis, Humility Is Everything, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

Captain ClassMany of history’s most-celebrated leaders displayed a remarkable mix of courage and humility. But on the short list of leaders who’ve saved lives in the face of overwhelming odds [GM CEO Mary Barra, Johnson & Johnson CEO James Burke, United pilot Alfred Haynes, US Air pilot Chesley Sullenberger, Chilean miner Luis Urzúa], those two traits are nearly universal.

The reason, I suspect, is that they’re inextricably linked.

Few business leaders ever find themselves in the kind of fix where many lives hang in the balance. When they do, however, history suggests that a little humility can go a long way. ...

Humility isn’t a byproduct of heroism, it’s a precondition. Modest people achieve miracles under pressure because they’re far more likely to possess four major qualities that pay dividends in a crisis.

  1. Expertise  When the tiniest mistake can be fatal, there is no substitute for mastery. ...
  2. Composure  Heroes immediately grasp the severity of their problems and waste no time addressing them—all while maintaining ironclad emotional control. ... 
  3. Collaboration  Faced with an unprecedented situation, Mr. Urzúa understood that asserting his authority would only discourage others from making suggestions—so he promptly removed his white foreman’s helmet. “We are all equal now,” he told his men. “There are no bosses and employees.” From then on, every decision was subject to a vote. ...
  4. Confidence  Heroic leadership often comes down to something simple: believing something so unequivocally that it becomes contagious. ...

Other Captain Class leadership columns:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/08/in-a-life-or-death-crisis-humility-is-everything.html

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