We can never know for sure how we will react in a crisis situation. Until we are in it. Regardless of our role, training or disposition.

We do know however, that we can all make ego-driven mistakes.   Thankfully these rarely have devastating consequences such as those created by Captain Schettino on (or off!) the Costa Concordia. Such as loss of human life, environmental damage, blighted company reputation and national embarrassment.

But yes, we can all find ourselves ‘crashing into rocks’ at some point. In our friendships, relationships and business dealings and projects. But it is what we do in the next moment to respond and mitigate the damage. And what we do after that and subsequently which can make the difference.

At any moment, whether we are a leader, part of a team or along for the ride, we have the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • Courage (to admit our mistakes, suppress our ego, take responsibility, be accountable)
  • Curiosity  (to be fully aware and to seek to understand the situation)
  • Care  (to give a damn)

Crisis leadership, styles of communication, cultural differences, the power of superstition in organisational culture and performance …the lessons from Costa Concordia could keep us in blogs for a long time to come.  And it seem the issues are systemic. A crisis just doesn’t happen out of the blue.

For after this, Carnival Corporation & PLC have been reported as violating environmental laws in extreme ways.. and covering them up.   What crisis will it take for them and the industry, to reflect deeply on themselves and change?.

May they turn to the principles of organisational resilience and collective mindfulness as offered by Denyer and Weick et. al. respectively, before that happens.


  • Denyer, D. (2010) “Leading for resilience”, Management Focus, (28) 14-15.
  • http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/p2604/People/Faculty/Academic-Faculty-Listing-A-Z/Last-Name-D/David-Denyer
  • Weick, K.E, Sutcliffe, K.M and Obstfeld, D. (1999). “Organizing for High Reliability: Processes of Collective Mindfulness” in R.S. Sutton and B.M. Staw (eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 1 (Stanford: Jai Press, 1999), 81–123
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/business/princess-cruise-lines-fine.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/business/carnival-cruise-pollution.html
  • Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash


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