How to use your leadership skills during natural disasters

Sep 19, 2019 by

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Monetary and property loss is not the only consequence of events like hurricanes, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, and drought. These natural disasters are responsible for emotional trauma for the vast majority of people who encounter these events first hand. Human intervention and precautions cannot prevent any natural disaster but taking specific measures for such emergencies in vulnerable areas can undoubtedly minimize the damage.

The scale of natural disasters is unprecedented, and possible sufferings or affectees can be unimaginable. Nevertheless, a competent team must manage these events at a national level, and you cannot leave the victims to fend for themselves. A disaster management team must be an integral part of local and state governments. The management of natural disasters requires the expertise of individuals with massive leadership and management capabilities.

A disaster management team should deal with policymaking that ensures the implementation of programs that deal with disaster mitigation. It includes but is not limited to environment protection, minimizing loss of property and lives, excellent communication and coordination across the board.

Let’s explore why leadership skills are essential for disaster management.

Inherent or Learned

It is a never-ending debate whether one is born with leadership skills or they learned during the course life. It is a known fact that every human has a natural tendency towards something; the same is the case for leadership. Some people have more exceptional leadership aptitude than others. That said, not everyone is a leader, but everyone can learn to be a leader. One who is leading a disaster management team needs to have a combination of both to do justice to the job at hand. One can certainly learn to be a leader, but one must also have individual capabilities beforehand to provide relief in the face of natural disasters.

Management of Natural Disasters

Managing natural disasters is a multistage process, and it can only work for the best for everyone if you are consistent and smart with your decision-making.

  • Firstly, as a leader, you must devise preventive measures by every expected natural disaster. These measures then need to be put in place to minimize the damage of life and property.
  • As a leader, you must also be aware of strategies that can mitigate the disaster. It is hard to do so in the face of a natural disaster, but in case of drought, supplies can be stocked up, and in case of approaching hurricane, people can be evacuated to prevent loss of life.
  • A leader must also be a critical decision-maker and should be on top of the situations and circumstances that don’t have an outlined protocol.
  • A leader needs to be aware that return to normalcy is possible only if all the departments work alongside with a common goal. A leader knows that the return to normalcy is a long road and the end of the disaster is just the beginning of the journey to normal. For that, it becomes essential to keep all the concerned people and agencies on board all the time.

Planning and Organization

This leadership trait is essential to disaster management because management without a plan can go awry any time. One needs to be organized in methods and goals to mitigate the effects of a disaster. A leader develops the plans by involving all organizations that have a stake in the disaster management. A leader is well aware that only an organized plan works and even keeping one person out of the loop can be detrimental to recovery from disaster.

Problem Solving

A leader who lacks problem-solving skills won’t be able to alleviate the problems based on a set protocol alone. This leadership trait is tested over and over again with effect in the homeland security masters course on disaster management. Problems can arise even during the administration of a disaster, and as a leader, you must be aware of how to tackle a problem within a problem.


This underrated leadership trait is instrumental in seeing a disaster through. Often, the consequences of a natural disaster are too harsh and backbreaking, that in those instances, motivation is the key to keeping the personnel engaged day and night to bring relief to the affected and to start the rebuilding process. In many cases, the on-ground team is also susceptible to the forces of nature. A leader is the one who motivates the team to go on despite the adverse circumstances.

Decision Making

A leader needs to be decisive in the face of making impromptu decisions. Many a time, there is not enough time to consult all the parties involved, and the leader has to rely on personal decision-making skills. Therefore, decisiveness is one such quality that can get you out of a fix.


Stoicism is a trait often associated with those who are involved in a battle, and managing a natural disaster is nothing short of that. You are up against a force that is as unpredictable as anything on the earth, and the consequences can be from minor to significant damages. You may get to witness a massive number of deaths and buildings razed to the ground. In such instances, you have to show courage and endurance that will help you to keep on marching without being distracted from your goal. You have to remain in control of your emotions to bring maximum relief in a minimum period.


Without excellent communication, the task at hand will never reach completion in its entirety. If you are good at communicating, be it oral or written, by phone or via email, then you have not only a good grasp of the problem yourself, but you are also ensuring that the other parties involved are equally aware. It makes sure that everyone knows the severity of the problem and the measures that need to be taken to deal with the disaster.

Leadership requires you to be at the top of the situation rather than being overwhelmed by the event. Dealing with natural disasters can be extremely emotionally and physically taxing; therefore, you must be well aware of your duties as a leader when leading a disaster management group.

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