Grenfell Tower Block Fire ….A Time for Real Crisis Leadership
Crisis Leadership on the Streets of West London
Today on According to Vi, I was going to blog about life and leadership, in a spirit of merriment and satire, but a devastating tragedy hit our local community this morning. A tower block caught fire in the early hours of the morning, and there have been fatalities. Today is about crisis leadership – leadership in action and in a tragedy.
We are heard stories of mothers trapped on floors, and throwing their babies over balconies in the hope that they at least can be saved. Thankfully, there are reports of babies being caught.
We are heard of people fleeing the scene, whilst emergency workers – such as firefighters, paramedics, ambulance crews – are fleeing towards the scene.
We are heard speculation as to how the fire started, and who is to blame.
I myself spent my formative years as a child on a council estate, in a block of flats. Granted, not as high as 23 floors, but nonetheless several floors up, with limited escape routes; this hadn’t gone unnoticed by my young self. I can’t begin to imagine the sense of hopelessness and terror being stuck up there on that tower block in the darkness of the early hours, unable to escape the heat, flames and smoke. One dear woman recorded her anguish on Facebook Live as she awaited rescue from the 23rd floor. My heart truly goes out to them all.
Love In Action
I visited the area this evening and was struck that nearly 24 hours later, the fire can still be seen in the centre of the block. Whilst that is still causing devastation, In the midst of tragedy, we saw local communities come together to sacrificially give of their time and personal belongings to help the injured and homeless…I saw many volunteers from local churches and other organisations feeding the hungry, comforting the distressed and bewildered. Mountains of food, clothes and toiletries are ready to be distributed.
Leading in a Crisis
There are many articles written about crisis leadership . These tend to be from the perspective of nominated or formally recognised leaders. My years in nursing has taught me that some of the most influential leaders are NOT those in such leadership positions. I have worked with some really influential healthcare assistants who are more than able to mobilise members of the ward team around a specific cause!
Today, I saw a wide range of people taking charge around the cause of helping the homeless and bereaved. I think those that arise and take control during a tragedy of this kind show remarkable leadership and courage. They are the ones who take the initiative without being asked, in order to do what is best for others. They stick their heads above the parapet, and have no fear of the repercussions. They care more for others than they do for themselves. They act with or without the designated title of ‘leader’ and, quite frankly, they through their leading are the real role models. They bring a sense of calmness, direction and order which is essential during a time like this; crisis leadership. I saw many of them tonight. Young and old, from different races, religions and backgrounds.
As my sympathy goes to the injured and deceased and everyone else affected by this morning’s events, I can only take some comfort that London has some great leaders out there!