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Welcome to High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

Welcome to High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

Welcome to this course about High Stakes Leadership. It’s good to have you with us. We live and work in a world that is becoming more complex, volatile, and uncertain every day. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided all of us with a tangible and, for many, frightening illustration of this reality. As the pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on you and your family, you have likely paid a great deal of attention to how those around you have been—or have not been—demonstrating leadership. What have you learned? Almost certainly, you have come to the conclusion that rarely has the need for exceptional leadership been so clear or so important. What should we expect from leaders in a crisis? This question will serve as the foundational inquiry for this course. As a crisis leader, what should your stakeholders—your families, your businesses, your employees, your communities, etc.—expect from you? A growing body of research offers some answers to these questions. During this course, you will explore these answers and gain immediate, practical value.

This course is led by Professor Mike Barger, a faculty member at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Dr. Barger has over thirty-five years of experience leading organizations through crises, first as a fighter pilot and TOPGUN instructor in the United States Navy, then as a founder and operations executive at JetBlue Airways. Now, as a researcher, author, and teacher, he has much to share about how the most effective organizational leaders successfully navigate the exceptional challenges presented by the crisis environment.

According to Dr. Barger’s research, three simple principles become self-evident in every crisis. These principles will serve as a particularly useful framework for the study of high stakes leadership in this course. First, during a crisis, everyone involved will look to organizational leaders for tangible evidence of leadership. Who is in charge? Do they know what is going on here? What actions are they taking? Second, when these people look for leadership, they want and need leaders that they can believe in. Will everything be ok? Will the company survive? Will I still get the product or service or value that I expected?  Will I still have a job?  And third, as crisis leadership is ultimately about addressing these concerns—these fears—it is critical to truly understand and appreciate the perspectives of those most threatened by the situation. It is insufficient for senior organizational leaders to view crises solely from their own perspective. To serve the interests of everyone impacted by a crisis, these leaders must be able to see the threat through the eyes of others and offer them clear, compelling, and unmistakable evidence of leadership. This course has been designed to help leaders at all levels develop the skills to do so.

As you settle into this course, you will immediately notice the relevance of the lessons you will be learning. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the planet, thought leaders at the University of Michigan felt a responsibility to share, as quickly as possible, useful advice and guidance to help you manage your own version of this crisis. In fact, the videos presented in this course were recorded under the state of Michigan’s stay at home order, with no crew and social distancing-appropriate production methods. These are clearly unprecedented times. But the obstacles that lie before us are far from insurmountable. Resilient leaders find ways to make the very best of difficult situations to care for themselves and provide support for others. Armed with the knowledge and skills presented in this course, you will find that you have a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all those who depend on you.

Welcome to High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

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High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

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