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Activity: Leadership Case Study


Preparation of a case study, based on a particularly difficult challenge

you have experienced as the leader of an emergency operation - or
as a member of an emergency team. This should be a leadership
challenge related to difficulties experienced in directing, influencing,
managing or leading others in an emergency or humanitarian
situation. It should be an experience from which you grew and
You will need to illustrate your leadership challenge by way of a real
emergency case example or critical incident (from your experience).
The purpose of selecting such a case is for you and your colleagues
to discuss this experience and to extract lessons from it about

Learning objective:

Learn about emergency leadership by reflecting on your own

experience as a leader or from observing and drawing lessons from
others who have led you

Time required:

1 hour total


The activity can be completed anywhere

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest;

Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the
During the workshop, you will share your leadership challenge and critical incident with others
so that they too can learn from it and provide additional perspectives.
Some challenges shared by participants other leadership programmes have included:

Being appointed leader of an emergency team which is already in place. Needing to address
problems on this team and to win over the team at the same time.

Trying to moderate conflict within your team and/or reduce tensions among several team
members which is depleting morale and inhibiting performance.

Having to deal with an underperforming, difficult or a traumatized team member.

Dealing with Headquarters when what your superiors want you to do conflicts with what you
know to be the right thing to do.

Making a decision whether or not to send staff into an insecure situation.

Trying to mobilize an inter-agency team whose members dont share your priorities or sense
of urgency.

Getting key staff to agree on strategies, priorities and/or the way forward.
Dealing with an operational setback which demoralizes or creates tensions on the team.
You may also wish to read some of the leadership examples kindly shared by participants at the
last ELMP. See optional readings for Module A.
Prepare your case study notes by writing your answers to the questions on the template which
begins on the next page.
Bring one copy of this with you to the workshop and email a copy to the ELMP facilitator at
ci-elmp@careinternational.org no later than 5 April 2013.

Leadership Challenge
Your name:_____________________________________________
Your current organization:_________________________________
Briefly, what is the nature of your leadership challenge?

Case study / incident which illustrates the leadership challenge


Name the emergency, the location, and the dates of the experience you are describing
(e.g. Conflict, Congo, October 2007)


Explain the purpose of the emergency operation and your role in the operation (e.g. Our
team was to conduct an assessment in North Kivu. The team consisted of seven
members. I was the assessment team leader)


Describe a specific critical incident or situation which actually occurred on this

emergency team and which manifests or illustrates your leadership challenge.


Briefly, define or describe the most critical decision that the emergency leader had to
make in this situation?


In retrospect, identify three distinct options which the leader could have chosen (make
up options if necessary) and include the benefits and risks of each.
Description of each option







Which option did the emergency leader select? Describe and evaluate the outcome or
result of the decision taken.


How did the emergency staff or team members react or feel about the emergency
leaders behavior, actions or decisions?


What did you learn about emergency leadership from this experience? What did you
learn about the personal qualities necessary to be an effective emergency leader?