Leadership, wisdom and the post-disaster recovery process

And it is done. After much toil please find the link to my Winston Churchill Report – Leadership, wisdom and the post-disaster recovery process.

Elizabeth McNaughton Winston Churchill Report 2013 Final

This Winston Churchill fellowship focuses on post-disaster recovery leadership. The purpose of this study is to seek the wisdom of recovery leaders, in the US, Australia and Italy, to add value to the recovery of earthquake ravaged Christchurch, New Zealand.

There were four elements that inspired my focus on recovery leadership:

  1. Reviews of post-disaster recovery programmes generally focus on three key areas for improvement – leadership, coordination and communication. In many ways the quality of the leadership in turn determines the effectiveness of the coordination and communication aspects of the recovery process.
  2.  As a result of the violent and destructive earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, many people have had their lives literally shaken from under them.  At times the outlook and public discussions seem unrelentingly gloomy. On a bleak Canterbury winter day it can be hard to see anything but the glass half empty.  It will take outstanding leadership at all levels to lift morale and raise people’s thoughts and spirits above their immediate struggles to see that there are extraordinary possibilities and opportunities for growth and development.
  3. My concern for many recovery leaders in Christchurch enduring constant and unmanageable stress that affects health, relationships and performance – noting the impact this has on community wellbeing.
  4. To re-build in a way that is prosperous for some and prosperous for now is relatively straightforward, good housekeeping and strong project management will get you there. Greater prosperity and opportunity for all and for generations to come takes outstanding thinking, courage and leadership.

This study combined both an online survey and semi-structured interviews. A total of 34 interviews with recovery leaders were conducted with an additional 9 responding by online survey only.

There is no one recipe for recovery leadership; it is more of an art that draws on many disciplines rooted in time and place.  This report is comprised of 10 key reflections and 14 recommendations. It is my hope that the reflections outlined in this report are helpful in shaping approaches to recovery leadership.

It was a privilege to meet so many accomplished and talented people on my journey – I thank you for being so generous with your time and open about your experiences.

I would like to conclude this post with my favourite quote and photos from the report:

“So leaders in recovery – when your tutu falls off you need to be sure your frilly knickers are enough. We need to plan for times when we are not at our peak, because no one can be at peak performance all the time. So, what are your plan B’s? How prepared are your understudies? And what are your resilience building strategies? Can you access the wisdom; yours and that of others?” Jane Booth, Australian Red Cross, Quality and Assurance Manager, South Australia

These photos are photos I took of Roberto Gillo’s photos hanging on damaged buildings in L’Aquilla.  Please see his website to see more of his amazing photos. http://www.robertogrillo.it/la-fotografia/26-l-039-aquila.html



4 thoughts on “Leadership, wisdom and the post-disaster recovery process

  1. Wow!! awesome report.. Right on the money – congratulations on brilliant and balanced research and presentation…

  2. Pingback: Leadership During Recovery- a Kiwi perspective | Recovery Diva

  3. As always your amazing insight to what and how others are coping or will cope, is right on the button, I feel the world would be in a better place if more people took your lead, well done, keep the great stuff coming!

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