Crisis Leadership and Shock Trauma

If you’ve ever been in one of my Leading Change workshops you know that I believe that business change environments dictate the style of leadership you should adopt. For instance, Business As Usual is best served by 'Champion' leaders, while Crisis situations require a more directive 'Captain' in charge. Traditional leadership models often fall short during intense organizational change.
Some interesting ideas about Crisis leadership have come from researchers at the US Army Research Institute who spent ten months observing the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland, a world-renowned urban facility that treats more than 7,000 patients each year with severe, often life-threatening injuries. They wanted to find out which leadership strategies fared best for teams working in "highly dynamic and stressful situations". The Shock Trauma Center was the perfect petri dish.

The center's trauma teams are made up of three key leadership roles: the top-ranked position, held by the 'Attending' surgeon; the second-ranked 'Fellow' position, followed by the third-ranked 'Admitting' resident, with the players changing from day to day, week to week and month to month. A trauma team's lifetime is short - about 15 to 60 minutes - with individual leaders coming and going while the leadership positions remain rigid, but flexible.