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Harvard Kennedy School

Leadership in Crises: Preparation and Performance

Apr 5—10, 2020
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9400
USD 1566 per day

How it works


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Natural disasters. Infrastructure failures. Major technology breaches. Terrorist attacks. Public health emergencies.

These are the kinds of extraordinary challenges that leaders like you face every day. Do you feel fully prepared to handle all of them? In our one-week executive education program, Leadership in Crises: Preparation and Performance, you'll learn how to successfully manage, survive and recover from the unexpected.

Essential Crisis Management Skills

In this program, you'll learn how to build the expertise you need to ensure a more successful crisis management process. You'll also learn how to effectively gather critical information, adapt to unique circumstances and prioritize effectively. Leadership in Crises also looks at how to build bridges across boundaries, presenting perspectives on planning, training and implementing, so that senior managers like you can have systems in place in advance of a critical event.

Leadership in Crises will provide you and a global cohort of your peers with a greater understanding of:

  • The dynamics of emergencies overall and what differentiates crisis situations from routine emergencies
  • The role leadership plays in crafting and executing appropriate responses and preparing organizations in advance of a crisis
  • The skills leaders need for working decisively in the highly concentrated time-frame of an emergency, while maintaining a focus on managing and motivating a team
  • The critical demands of large-scale crises that engage multiple response organizations from many jurisdictions and levels of government
  • The tensions that frequently arise between senior emergency management professionals and political leaders and how they can work together effectively


Leadership in Crises is a one-week executive program led by Faculty Chairs Arnold Howitt and Dutch Leonard, two leading experts in crisis management. The program features intensive, interactive discussions using the Harvard case study method, supplemented by lectures, exercises and small-group work.

The case studies give you exposure to real-world issues and help you work through possible approaches and solutions to problems that actual managers have confronted. It is case teaching that reveals the power of a diverse learning group and makes for open and lively classroom discussion.

Morning small-group discussions allow you to work more collaboratively and intensively on the day’s readings, as well as provide an opportunity for “peer consulting” on a particular issue that you're facing.

Leadership in Crises will examine:

  • The necessity of two modes of emergency operation—for routine emergencies and crises
  • Achieving the multiple dimensions of situational awareness
  • Coordination in complex, multi-organizational, multi-jurisdictional events
  • Getting the most from training and exercises
  • The roles and relationships of senior operational leaders

Samples of cases used during Leadership in Crises include:

  • Emergency Response System Under Duress: The Public Health Fight to Contain SARS in Toronto
  • "Almost a Worst-Case Scenario": The Baltimore Tunnel Fire of 2001
  • Command Performance: County Firefighters Take Charge of the 9/11 Pentagon Emergency

Who should attend

Leadership in Crises draws on its participants' deep knowledge resulting in one of the strongest features of the course. Classes are made up of experienced professionals, which fosters a spirit of lively and informed conversation.

Recommended applicants include:

  • Local, state and federal officials in departments including but not limited to public works, public health, emergency medicine, transportation, homeland security and education
  • Elected officials who oversee emergency preparedness or participate in crisis response
  • Senior leaders of first-response agencies
  • Foreign Service, State Department, and other federal officials who craft or carry out responses to international humanitarian and diplomatic crises
  • Active-duty military, Coast Guard, National Guard, or reserves who play roles in planning for or responding to disasters
  • Executives in the corporate and nonprofit sectors with responsibility for disaster planning, management or recovery, or those who oversee large public events


Arnold M. Howitt is Senior Adviser of the Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at HKS, with responsibility to advise its executive education and research programs. He also co-directs the Program on Crisis Leadership, jointly sponsored by the Ash Center and the Taubman ...
Herman B. ("Dutch") Leonard is Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and the George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Sector Management at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In addition, he serves as co-chair of the ...

Next dates

Apr 5—10, 2020
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9400
USD 1566 per day

How it works

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