Crisis Leadership Vs. Crisis Management

Sep 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Bob Brand

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When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Cox Enterprises Inc. phone bank team sprang into action to help locate approximately 400 missing Cox employees in hurricane-affected areas. Once found, these employees were directed to appropriate hotlines for more information on what assistance Cox could provide.

It takes foresight and planning to achieve this level of disaster response.

The corporate security team at Cox Enterprises recognized the importance of planning for disasters well in advance of an actual crisis and adopted a proactive policy of crisis leadership — addressing all systems, stakeholders and mechanisms before, during and after a disaster — rather than a purely reactive policy of crisis management.

Triggered by the possibility of a worldwide bird flu pandemic, Cox Enterprises has developed a business continuity plan incorporating likely business risks a crisis such as a pandemic could create. All Cox companies now conduct business continuity planning regularly in partnership with corporate security. The planning ensures that businesses will provide an acceptable level of service to employees, clients, customers and other business partners, regardless of what devastating events may occur. To encourage each location to develop and implement a business continuity plan to corporate standards, a report card is provided to the president of each company annually.

As part of the crisis leadership initiative, Cox launched a comprehensive online resource — — in 2006, as well as a toll-free number for employees to use during emergency or crisis situations. The Web site provides key evacuation and emergency response information and is updated regularly with the most current news, instructions, contacts and key links. Cox also provides employees detailed information about possible disaster situations through communications materials such as pamphlets, toolkits and brochures.

When disaster strikes, whether natural or manmade, the ability to react efficiently and effectively is paramount. By proactively planning for the worst and developing strong communication systems, Cox Enterprises has taken steps to ensure the safety of its employees, its businesses and its infrastructure.

Bob Brand is vice president of corporate security for Cox Enterprises Inc. and a member of the Security Executive Council. For information about the Security Executive Council, visit

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