38 DISASTER RECOVERY JOURNAL | SUMMER 2016
particular key to success is. Now a leader
leads and they, as leaders, inspired and
motivated generations of players, customers, fans, and employees to name a
few stakeholders. Today their success and
leadership style is being studied in terms
of the newest minting of executive leadership education.
Ironically, we have found the same
inspirational leadership for many years,
at many organizational levels as we have
prepared soldiers and organizations for
military assignments around the world.
The keen personal focus, military discipline, and demanding training combine
to bring about winning solutions. What is
one common trait among high-performing
organizations and individuals is the ability to quickly grasp and assess an uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation (you can
read this as a disaster). They “keep calm
and carry on” when the walls are burning
down around them.
Culturally speaking, Special Operations
Forces are quite a bit different than normal
military units. These types of organizations cultivate an attitude of high performance in everything they do. Often you
will find an almost fanatical attention to
the details of any task or assignment and
as people they are intrinsically wired that
way and habitually just do it. The phrase
“go big or go home” is often heard in conversations as high-performing egos rev up
and interact on a daily basis.
Tying High Performance with
Business Continuity and
When you speak with these types of
high performers it is a face-to-face, eye-to-eye conversation and no-nonsense
event. When assigning them an arduous
task with a high degree of ambiguity
they never break composure, ever. This
trait and others are cultivated by using a
number of methods. Here is one example:
Soldiers are brought to a “trail in the
woods” in a nameless place in the
USA. They are told to be there at
a particular time, but amazingly the
time changes, creating a stressor.
The trail winds through the woods
and is made of mostly sand and
broken terrain, hills, etc., which is
not the best running environment.
The woods are tall, dense, and
disorienting. With little fanfare, no
starting horn, or familiar “
ready-set-go” the people are simply told
to “start running,” with only minimal
guidance as to how far or even a
The real distance they face can
be four, five, seven, or 12 miles.
Unfortunately, they don’t know, by
design. The ugly truth is that every
mile must be run at exactly the
same pace regardless of distance.
You must always give everything
you have and they “keep calm and
This is the Starting Point
of Your Disaster
You may find your corporate headquarters in flames – or in my case [Johnson] the
fire is out and water literally running out
of the walls several floors up – all before
8 a.m. You will be late already, others are
making spastic decisions, and everyone
else ( 4,000 personnel in my case) are suffering from mass shock and are lethargic,
eyes wide open, mouth agape, and stammering.
You are now at the start of your “trail
in the woods.” You face ambiguity, plenty
of stressors, and unfamiliar queues where
you will have to make some smart assumptions on corporate direction. If you are
well trained and prepared you will have
the ability to face your disaster with a calm
diligence. This is the disaster leader you
could strive to be, and you will soon find
yourself interacting in yet a new battleground – the boardroom – as you describe
how your planning will save the organization.