Leadership on Point

The “Miracle in the Mine” Rescue Leadership

October 15, 2010 Robert Wesley - Guest Author

The rescue of 33 miners in Chile this week was a Miracle but it was also made possible by outstanding leadership. There were not one but two outstanding examples of leadership. Two different approaches were required because of the different challenges facing two organizations, the miners trapped in the mine and rescue effort.

Trapped Below
Luis Urzua, the shift leader of the miners trapped below, had to overcome the chaos and despair. Faced with starvation and the high probability that they would never be found, he had to create a semblance of order. Luis assembled the resources at hand and took immediate charge. He took control over the food supply until the team was found. He converted a vehicle into an office, organized an exercise regiment and elicited the talents of members of his team to create fun activities to pass the time. Luis developed a structure system where each member of the team took on roles. The result was his team focused on positive activities, which created a will to live, and an optimistic outlook.

Rescue Effort
The Chilean Government decided to step in and take control immediately to bring to bear all the resources of the country. Laurence Golbourne, the 49-year-old Chilean Mining Minister, led the government effort. Laurence used a collaborative leadership style asking the world to contribute any assistance possible to the rescue effort. The results are outstanding. Companies and experts from Japan, Canada, Australia, Ireland, US and other countries provided expertise and support. Support came from unique sources like NASA, Oakley Sun Glasses, UPS, Yamazaki Nabisco and others companies. Laurence also organized, developed and executed a plan. He set realistic expectations for the world while motivating his team to exceeded those expectations. As a result, the rescue operations were completed in less than 24 hours, even though the plan had estimated it would take 33 hours.

Well the results are outstanding praise from all. Laurence Golbourne has amassed over 69,000 twitter followers. According to the Guardian.co.uk, Laurence also has an 87% approval rating for his leadership.

So from my vantage point, the Chilean rescue was successful due to 75% great leadership and 25% miracle. This event provides a great opportunity for business and other government leaders to learn how to create winning teams even in the face of adversity.

Great collaborative leadership can drive miracles!

Written by Robert J. Wesley, Principal, Wesley Partners. You can contact Robert at rwesley@wesleypartners.com.

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