I was in in New York City several days before and after Hurricane Sandy, planning to facilitate two programs. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
During this time, I’ve had a chance to watch three leaders, all different in personality and style, grapple with overwhelming loss and destruction: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Chris Christie. While all different, they share certain characteristics that are worth noting (in addition to being exceptional in the face of this unprecedented catastrophe).
- Perspective. Pausing to acknowledge that the greatest loss is the loss of life and that much else can be replaced on some level.
- Calibrating realism, pragmatism and optimism. Being hopeful about the future, realistic about the time frame to rebuild and putting in an interim plan to bridge the present with the future.
- Building trust with the public. Communicating essential information frequently and clearly in digestible doses.
- Preparing for long-term solutions. All three officials recognize that we are in a new era when it comes to climate change and its potential effects. While the first job is to get things up and running, I’m sure that working groups are planning for ways to mitigate the havoc that weather changes will likely bring in the future.
A final note: I lived in New York for a decade and visit frequently for work and to see family. (I also spent six summers in Atlantic City as a teenager.) I know New York and I can only describe the scenes as surreal. If you haven’t done so already, I hope that you’ll make a donation to a disaster relief organization.