Crisis Management: Leading Successfully Through the Storm

Tylenol and HealthSouth came out of crisis even stronger.

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Each of the aforementioned crises called for a different plan of attack. And it should come as no surprise that in some instances, the best course of action is to avoid taking action. Or at least to avoid taking too much action. President John F. Kennedy famously avoided a catastrophic nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union by refusing to relent to crusading Cold Warriors inside his administration who were eager to bomb Cuba in the name of national security. Rather than provoke a war, Kennedy took a defensive stance by reaching out directly to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. They struck a deal for both sides to dismantle missiles.

Kennedy's tough decision shows that there might be only one truly defining characteristic of good leadership, and that is knowing what the situation calls for. Good luck figuring that one out.

  • See America's Best Leaders.