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Faculty Introduction

Faculty Introduction
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Hi, my name is Professor Mike Barger and it’s a pleasure to welcome you to high-stakes leadership, leading in times of crisis. This course has been designed to help developing leaders like you, effectively navigate the challenges of significant organizational disruptions that have become increasingly common today’s fast-moving, constantly evolving business environment. As a participant in this course, you’ll explore the stakeholder theory of management to discover how and why an understanding of various stakeholder perspectives can inform and dramatically improve a leader’s response to events that threaten an organization’s very survival. In addition to exploring the interest of organizational stakeholders, this course is also about understanding and developing individual and organizational resilience.
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The ability to anticipate threats, to cope effectively with adverse events when they do occur, and to adapt to changing conditions to ensure a viable path forward for yourself, your team, and your organization. Over the eight modules that you’ll find in this course, we’ll explore topics such as how stakeholders react to crises, organizing frameworks for estimating the types of crises an organization might encounter. The unique and challenging nature of the crisis environment, the fundamentals of crisis leadership, and building a plan to prepare yourself, your team, and your organization for your next major crisis, which in today’s world is not so much an if, but a when. Why do I have some unique perspective to offer on this topic?
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Over my professional career, I’ve spent a great deal of time leading teams through a particularly challenging situations. After completing my undergraduate degree right here at the University of Michigan back in the mid ’80s, I spent 13 years as a flight instructor in the United States Navy, flying and teaching in the F18 Hornet. I even had the privilege of running the top gun school for a couple of years. The high-speed, high pressure environment of military fighter radiation, offered some of the most complex environments you can imagine. But they also provided some great opportunities to develop resilience, to experiment with new and innovative tactics, to constantly look for better ways to execute, and perhaps most importantly, to analyze and learn from mistakes.
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Because combat aviation and organizational crisis leadership, actually have quite a bit in common. No two scenarios are exactly the same. There’s never enough information to make perfect decisions, and the participants engaged in the scenario rarely behave as you would expect which reminds me of a military axiom that served me well over the years, “no plan withstands contact with the enemy”. I found that notion quite useful in crisis leadership, as it’s helped remind me and my team, we’re not going to have all the answers, and we’re going to run into some situations that we didn’t expect. So let’s keep our objective in mind and do our best to keep moving forward.
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After my 13 years in the Navy, I joined a small group of experienced airline executives, including my brother Dave, who’d been a senior leader at Continental Airlines for many years, and started an airline that we named JetBlue Airways. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Over my 13 years with JetBlue, I was a senior pilot. I launched and led the corporate training department, what we call JetBlue University. I ran our strategy office and headed up all flight and maintenance operations for the company. Over those 13 years, I learned a lot about stakeholders, resilience, and saw hundreds if not thousands of times that in fact, no plan withstands contact with anyone.
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As an executive at JetBlue, I experienced dozens of crises over my 13 years, and my prediction for the likelihood that you will find yourself, in the not-too-distant future, as a part of a leadership team dealing with the crisis of your own, I would say the odds are one in one. It will happen. When it does, could it be that you’ll have the greatest opportunity you will ever have to play a critical role in the future of your business? I think it just might. Thank you for your commitment to exploring a topic that’s exciting, daunting, and almost impossible to master.
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But with some time and effort over the weeks to come, you can develop an exceptional crisis leadership toolkit that’s been customized to your own style, your strengths, your role, and your industry. While we’ll explore a good bit of theory and foundational research on the topics examined in this course, my aim is to make this course as practical as possible. I think you’ll like how we’ll make so. Welcome to high-stakes leadership, leading in times of crisis. Let’s get started.
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High Stakes Leadership: Leading in Times of Crisis

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