I have partnered with all types of Incident Commanders (called Site Leaders in some organizations) during my career. Some were great and some not so great. I can confidently say that a strong, intelligent, confident, calming, take-charge, decisive leader is critical to successfully leading an organization through a crisis. My advice to you, if you have input, is to appoint an:

  1. Intelligent, decisive Incident Commander. Employee safety and continuity of operations can be dependent on this person’s decisions
  2. Intelligent, decisive Alternate Incident Commander (backup). You NEED that backup person to be ready to step in if the Incident Commander is not available

Perhaps he or she is head of operations, security or safety. In fact, one of the best leaders I had the good fortune of working with was Director of Security for a global company. He had 30 years’ experience dealing with life and death situations throughout his career. No matter what crisis he faced he answered the call and led the team through the event in a calm, confident manner. Tornadoes, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, major power outages, winter storms, anthrax scares… it did not matter. He did a great job!

It is critical that the Incident Commander (IC) be provided with up-to-date situational awareness information. It will enable the IC to understand events as they are unfolding and the impacts of these events on your assets including people, locations and systems. The IC can then assimilate the information into knowledge and insight. The resulting insight leads to actionable steps which will get your company through the crisis – if you have prepared properly. In the technology posts on UltimateBusinessContinuity.com we deep dive free and commercial situational alert tools that I have found valuable. The technology is improving so rapidly that by the time you read this, there will be additional tools available to benefit your organization. I will keep you up to date on new tools through the Ultimate Business Continuity Tools and Technologies Newsletter.

A great leader does not get rattled. At the core of resilience is the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. A while ago I was on a series of early morning calls (1 am – 4 am) because a system that managed a complex series of factory logistical devises was not operational, Had the system not been fixed by 5 am, it could have resulted in a serious business impact.

He was faced with obstacle after obstacle. It was a toughie. I know, as I am still a techie at heart. 1 am, 2 am, 3 am… He just calmly and firmly moved forward to isolate the needle-in-the-haystack. He logically eliminated all possible causes for the breakdown. A few times he had to repeat himself to people on the scene in the factory, as the technicians were on cell phones and it was very noisy. But he never lost it. Not even once. You just knew he would get the problem solved and he did. Very impressive.

Remember, appoint the right people in the Incident Commander and Alternate Incident Commander roles and your resilience and confidence will skyrocket.