Yesterday I was listening to a radio interview of the chair of the Republican Nominating Committee, Reince Priebus. Apparently this job is usually a boring one, planning a boring convention at which there’s one boring candidate who gives a rousing speech and is then named the Republican nominee.
Not so much this year: Priebus is in the middle of a tornado, wondering what happened to the nice volunteer job to which he signed up.
Anyway I really enjoyed listening to him. He is one calm, level headed guy. When asked how is he handling the stress, he quipped, “It’s ok, you know, I’m not looking for Johnnie Walker in the afternoon yet”.
He also had an interesting comment about leadership in the middle of a crisis: “Sometimes when you’re a leader, there’s going to be a 7-alarm fire, and the best you can do is help take it down to a 4-alarm. The fire’s still burning but not so much”.
I liked this, first, because it is a funny and memorable way of talking about crisis management, and second, because I think we sometimes assume it is all or nothing with leadership: no matter what is happening, we should get a GREAT result. But sometimes there isn’t a great result possible in the situation: the team just needs to get through it the best way it can.