Servant-Leadership in Times of Crises and Emergencies and Disasters: A Critical Perspective

Paresh Wankhade, David Weir, Sylvia van Bunt

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper examines possible synergies between the fields of emergency management and servant-leadership. We argue that true emergency management is best undertaken by servant-leaders who are able to reconcile passion and control. Servant-leadership in times of crisis and emergency has a sociological and organisational dimension as well as an individual dimension. We articulate the communication and social dimensions of a crisis, especially emphasizing the importance of listening skills throughout the timescale before, during and after the crisis situation. Servant-leaders typically exercise social caution in the act of communication and listening before speaking. Effective (team) communication in a crisis situation is highly influenced by the wholeness of the (team) experience before, during and after the crisis sutuation. In a crisis situation the usual channels of communication may not be operative. This implies that leaders need to be flexible and empathic, providing safe protocols for communication. Throughout the timescale of before, during and after the crisis the servant-leader inhabits/integrates the ability of damage control (speaking, leading) and passion (listening, serving). Each organisation has different stress-levels, trustful partnerships, and social protocols to deal with crisis through leading and serving. This paper explores times of crisis and emergency on a micro-level through analysis of communication by leaders in an emergency situation in air traffic control and leading a country in crisis. Future research implications are also noted.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2015
EventEuropean Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference - University of Warsaw, Poland
Duration: 16 Jun 201520 Jun 2015


ConferenceEuropean Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference


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