Crisis: The Acid Test For Leadership
ON February 24, 1989, United Airlines Flight 811 took off from Honolulu on its way to New Zealand. The Boeing 747 had climbed to 22,000 feet when the forward cargo door of the jet blew open. Nine passengers were immediately sucked out of the plane to their deaths. The two right engines were damaged by flying debris and taken out of commission. The plane was one hundred miles from land. The captain, David Cronin, was in a crisis.
Since the plane had just loaded 300,000 pounds of fuel for the long flight, it was too heavy to land without collapsing the landing gear. Also, the wing flaps used to slow down the plane were not working properly. He would have to land the plane at 195 miles per hour, compared to the normal speed of 170 miles per hour. Nevertheless, Captain Cronin made one of the smoothest landings the crew could remember. Airline experts called the landing miraculous. A few days later, an interviewer asked Cronin about his first thoughts when the crisis hit. He said, “I said a prayer for my passengers momentarily and then got back to business.” Captain Cronin provided leadership in crisis, at a time it was most needed, and this made him a hero that would never be forgotten in the annals of aviation. The truth is, few things validate leadership like crisis.
I had previously written about the importance of leading through crisis and felt the need to reiterate and extend my thoughts on the subject. Leadership is never spared of crisis, as it is normal to life. If it is not political, economic, or social, it would be natural disasters, internal strife, external aggression, and the list continues. It is actually what you do in the face of such unexpected situations that determines the validity of your leadership. As a matter of fact, it will define the legacy you leave behind. So simply put, crisis will either validate or nullify your leadership.
A leader who knows his/her worth will make the best of crisis, not by denying or shying away from it, but by confronting it. Problems or challenges do not simply go away. It was the late American president, Theodore Roosevelt, who said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” And people will naturally look to their leaders in times crises. So, every move you make at such a time should inspire confidence and hope. If the crisis is the type that has never happened before, then it gives you an opportunity to establish a precedent for the future. If it is a recurrent problem, then it gives you an opportunity for innovation, looking for better ways to solve existing challenges. As the Chinese proverb says, “Crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind.”
Now to say that the present Nigeria’s government has inherited huge challenges would be an understatement. But then it is an opportunity for the government, and we the people of Nigeria, to build systems that will correct the ills of the past, and move Nigeria towards a glorious future. Things may be tough right now, but it is, indeed, our opportunity.
Nigeria Has A Great Future.
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