Great leaders are the people who respond swiftly, purposefully, and
gracefully under the pressure of extraordinary stress.

We have lived in our home for three months.

Not long after we moved in, I noticed a bad smell in the kitchen. It wasn’t the garbage or the compost bucket.

Then I saw it: water, lots of it, filling the bottom of the cabinet under our sink. Slimy, fermenting water.

The U-trap under our sink had not been tightened properly and was leaking: a slow drip.

Enough water had leaked, though, that our cabinet has a noticeably water-bowed floor. And, the water seeped under our laminate floor, making it buckle at the seams.

Our solution was a simple one. We cleaned out the water, sprayed some disinfectant, and bought a new rug to cover the buckled floor.

Monday I shared briefly about our recent plumbing disaster.

This was no small leak — this was a flood. We came home to water pouring through the chandelier in our dining room, water cascading from our 2nd floor bathroom all the way to the basement.

Clean-up this time started with quick actions: turning off the water main, removing furniture from the reach of the water pouring from the ceiling. It grew to involve the kind folks at AAA Standard Services, who know how to deal with emergencies like ours. The representative who arrived at our home on Sunday answered our questions patiently and described the process his organization uses.

Clean-up this time will involve demolition and rebuilding and it will be weeks, maybe months even, before our home is back to normal.

Families, communities, and organizations of every size face unexpected conflicts and disasters.

Even organizations with proactive leaders encounter roadblocks, setbacks, and difficulties. And while it may be impossible to prepare for every eventuality, great leaders are the ones who respond swiftly, purposefully, and gracefully under the pressure of extraordinary stress.

Join the conversation!

Which type of issue (slow, persistent leak or mighty deluge) do you most often face in your organization?

Can you think of a leader who has made a difference in your organization, community, or the world by handling a disaster with uncommon poise and decisiveness?

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.