Leaders and Heroes

“Good leaders always step out from the crowd and beyond the confusion” is the quote that begins the chapter entitled “Get Help Now!” in my book Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success.

In the age of heightened security, you would think that there would be emergency leadership meetings everywhere. Maybe there are.

Regardless of false alarms or real emergencies like the Florida school board shooting or the Tuscon, Arizona incident, it is time for us all to get serious about leading others. Just a few heroes among us already have.


During any crisis situation, there will be different reactions. We have seen this through the actions of the Panama City school superintendent who talked calmly with the assailant who opened fire during a televised school board meeting. In turn, the school district security officer Mike Jones took action to act quickly in a crisis that likely saved the lives of many. He moved quickly to act and at the same time kept a level head.

In the same way, Daniel Hernandez stood up when others cowered in fear during the Tuscon incident. In the face of an unprecedented incident, he took action to aide ailing congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was severely injured. In recent interviews, he has mentioning that he “shut off his emotions to get stuff done.” Hernandez assessed the situation and was attentive to a greater need, the welfare of others that was even greater than his own safety. That is true servant leadership at work.

Beyond the point that both Hernandez and Jones are true heroes is that they acted without hysteria and without reviewing major policies or debating the merits of helping others. There was no fanfare or partisan rhetoric. There was no pause for the cameras or a photo opportunity. Quite simply it was about being ready to act, ready be available for others, and ready for whatever was necessary.

We saw this same courage under the leadership of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said that “Nonviolent action was the way to supplement, not replace, the progress of change. It was the way to divest himself of passivity without arraying himself in vindictive force (Why We Can’t Wait).

Leaders have a duty to step up and out and take action during these unbelievable times. Who among us can really call ourselves leaders, ready to act without question?

-Dawn McCoy, author of Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success

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