“We need to equip our future leaders with the necessary toolbox to manage these extraordinary situations, and the GCSP Crisis Management course has certainly added some tools to my personal toolbox”.
Technological innovations are revolutionising the ways in which we gather information, assess situations and take decisions. And while the world is becoming ever more turbulent and ever more fast-moving, we cannot understate the value of the human dimension to managing crisis. It is essential that we acknowledge and respect this fact as artificial intelligence is not a replacement for human decision-making, but in fact a complement to it. It is hence crucial that future leaders learn how they as the decision-maker and direction-giver must act and react in a crisis. They will need to some extent rely on their intuition, their gut-feeling, but they will also need to be taught certain crisis management tools to be able to lead in an effective and successful way.
The one-week course “Crisis Management: Navigating the Storm” organised by the GCSP presented many valuable insights on how to tackle this issue. Not only did the GCSP team present practical decision-making structures that can be useful in such situations, but they also shared their personal leadership experiences which ideally contributed to these theoretical learnings. For example, Martin Richards, a specialist consultant on crisis management at the GCSP, spoke about his takeaways as a negotiator in hostage situations. Being able to engage with experienced leaders enabled a much deeper understanding of the importance and implications of crisis management than is ever possible by just reading about it.
Another important point that leaders must recognise in crisis situations is the necessity to leverage the team dynamics. Every team member is there for a reason. Acknowledging and enforcing the individual strengths and weaknesses of each member is essential to create a high performing team in extraordinary situations. Generating and fostering trust is another vital leadership skill, not only within the team but with every person involved in the matter. The ability to create a sense of intimacy for this trust is a further aspect which demonstrates the importance of the human element in situations of crisis.
All in all, future leaders will be faced with new, more complex and more interlinked crisis. While technology might be the cause of some of these, it can also help and enhance our navigation efforts. However, the human dimension will remain highly relevant to navigate storms. We need to equip our future leaders with the necessary toolbox to manage these extraordinary situations, and the GCSP crisis management course has certainly added some tools to my personal toolbox.
Ms Mona Zimmermann is currently doing a Master’s in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. She is working part-time as a Research Assistant at the Global Governance Centre at the Graduate Institute. She has previously worked for the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations in New York. She has a BA in International Affairs from the University of St. Gallen Switzerland. She speaks English, French and German.