Cave Rescue: A lesson in leadership

Cave rescue.jpgJuly 10, 2018

The following weeks will likely reveal the intricacies of the rescue of the youth soccer team from the Chiang Rai cave in Thailand.  But from the outside, it seems to me that the operation is a clear example of sucessful leadership in a complex environment.

  • The area’s acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn, personally took charge of the operation, quietly and effectively,
  • He quickly assembled a team of specialists from many different areas: speleology, health, metereology, parent relations, etc.
  • The team invited outside experts and volunteers into the process but clearly remaining in control,
  • The team evaluated alternative strategies for the rescue, taking input from every discipline,
  • Meanwhile, and without skipping a beat, a gigantic logistics effort went underway, procuring and deploying all types of equipment and people from pumps to ropes, oxygen, ambulances, food, as well as personnel and goods to support the primary teams,
  • The top team established policies that were stronly implemented:
    • Privacy comes to mind.  Photos of the rescued kids inside or outside the cave may have been taken but they will not likely be released until all are sucessfully out.  The press was not allowed near operational areas.
    • Parent relations seems to be handled very well.  All parents are on board with the team’s approaches and policies.
    • There is a news blackout of sorts, to the benefit of rescuers and victims.  Politicians are not exploiting the trajedy by parading in front of cameras.
  • Finally, the team has shown the ability to take advantage of changing circumstances by adapting the rescue plan when advantageous.  For instance, the second rescue operation was implemented hours earlier than originally planned because oxygen was resupplied faster than planned.
  • This is a clear sign of good leadership:
    • A tactical plan is in place to support the mission.
    • The core team is in constant communications, discussing and re-evaluating execution of that plan, and
    • The leader is constantly updated and is willing to take decisive action.

      Bravo!, a lesson to be learned!

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