NOTES FROM A LECTURE BY Dr. Sydney Engelberg, 14/5/2007. Melbourne.
“The Winograd Report (Israel):
Leadership in Times of Crisis.”
Dr. Engelberg is an independent leadership and orgnisation consultant, academic and senior executive at a Fortune100 company with extensive Leadership, Human Resource and Organisation Development experience in Israel, North America and Europe. Dr. Engelberg currently lives in Jerusalem, but is originally from South Africa and in the ‘70s was Master of Shalom College, Sydney.
The Winograd Commission of Inquiry was set up by the Israeli Government to investigate the second Lebanon war, whose conduct was highly criticised by all sectors of Israeli society. An interim report was released to the public in which the PM Ehud Olmert was strongly criticised, as well as his entire Cabinet. Calls for his resignation were made by a huge crowd of demonstrators in Rabin Square.
Dr. Engelberg described the definitions of “CRISIS” by a renowned Crisis Management Institute: i.e. they divide a crisis as being either a “smouldering crisis” or an “immediate or sudden crisis”. For the former, the leadership is responsible to monitor and prepare. For the latter, as the kidnapping of the soldiers by Hizbullah was, the leadership is not necessarily the ones responsible. This crisis (which precipitated the war) was in fact a “hybrid” of these and this is why PM Olmert cannot be held entirely responsible (i.e. to have prevented it!)
In dealing with a crisis : identifying it, prevention if possible, damage control when crisis hits using containment first and elimination next, then followed by dealing with the recovery from the crisis,- this is part of the CRISIS MANAGEMET STRATEGY. Then at the end, one must study and learn meaningful lessons from it so that the same crisis should not occur again.
Leadership in a crisis situation: competency of the leadership is paramount in dealing with a crisis. It must firstly build an environment of trust in the population, to allay fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
It needs the creation of an expanded mindset when dealing with a crisis.
Dr. Engelberg then quoted Albert Einstein: “a problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness it was created.” One must go up to a different level to solve it, i.e. one must distance oneself from the immediate problem.
One must be able to identify not only the obvious, but also the obscure vulnerabilities which caused the problem in the first place. One must look ahead and identify obscure threats before they eventuate.
But even the obvious vulnerabilities were not identified. For example, the bomb shelters were not necessarily well maintained; they were inadequate for the population who were sick, infirm or immobile; not sufficient thought was given to those who would need special care and the government should not have relied on the good graces of an individual to create a tent city in the South for the refugees from the North. They should have provided it immediately.
Wise decision making is necessary. An embarrassing situation evolved with Government paralysis ! Taking courageous actions and risk taking are all part of efficient crisis management, but these were not forthcoming.
Learning from the crisis to effect change is imperative.
Dr. Engelberg concluded his presentation with a note of encouragement. He quoted two important commentators and a noted war historian who all wrote about the positive results of the war and noted that the Israelis are doing themselves a disservice and untold damage by being too negative about the outcomes from the war. In spite of the soldiers not being found unfortunately, there were several positives to point at, namely:
The Northern border has been quiet for a longer period than for the last 40 years; the UN forces prevent the terrorist groups from rebuilding their infrastructures; better relations with the Siniore Lebanese Government than ever before,- a government which is still in power in spite of Hizbullah demonstrations; politically successful ,-i.e. the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (ceasefire),- none was ever so favourable towards Israel as this one ; Nasrallah, the Hizbullah leader is still in hiding and his standing with his own people seems to be waning; and the Winograd report has been received by the Arab world with a great deal of respect for the democratic process involved and almost admiration for the resilience of the Israeli citizens!
As for the political leadership, the people are fed up with all the politicians. None were invited to the mass rally in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. But many high profile leaders of all the Parties were there mingling but totally ignored by the crowd.
However, among the speakers who addressed the crowd were a couple of highly intelligent younger reservists who really inspired the crowd with their passion and deep-seated love for their country. Dr. Engelberg’s hope is that it is this younger generation rising up from the population who will be the next and future leaders of Israel. The country is in a state of transition at present, he said, which hopefully won’t last too long and he looks forward to a totally new generation of highly intelligent, well-motivated and honest younger, educated and well-trained group of political leaders taking over,- hopefully sooner than later!
The army is already well on the way to rectifying the errors of the Lebanese war; the economy has recovered; but the inertia of the current leadership is a worry!