Date of this Version
FROM: Leadership in Dangerous Situations : A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services, and First Responders. Edited by Patrick J. Sweeney, Michael D. Matthews, and Paul B. Lester (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011).
None of us would study or read about leadership if we did not think that leadership is important to people. Assuming that leadership is, indeed, important to people, it then follows that it is most important when people's lives are at risk. This chapter is a discussion of the most important niche in leadership thinking and analysisleader influence in dangerous contexts. There is social benefit to such a discussion. When one adds up the publicly released figures for numbers of active duty military personnel, law enforcement officers, and firefighters-all people who live and work in dangerous contexts-the total is in the millions. Adding mountain climbers, skydivers, and other extreme sports enthusiasts to the list swells this figure. Not to be overlooked are ordinary individuals suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into a dangerous circumstance (for example, shootings, floods, mine disasters, airline incidents) where leadership matters or could have mattered. Dangerous contexts are ubiquitous, and leadership during them can make a difference.