How to Prepare for Any Crisis - Black Enterprise

How to Prepare for Any Crisis


Following the collapse of Wall Street, the swell in national unemployment, and the meltdown of the housing mortgage market, crisis leadership is proving to be the new corporate discipline.

“Solely practicing crisis avoidance is insufficient,” says Amber Hamilton, senior program manager for Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored enterprise charged with funding mortgage investments in U.S. and international markets. “In a climate fraught with unpredictability, the reality is that no organization can be adequately prepared for every crisis.”

Amid the mortgage lending turmoil, Hamilton enrolled in Georgetown University’s Executive Master’s in Leadership program to better equip herself as a leader. “Simply managing the variables of a crisis is reactive and severely limits an organization’s ability to benefit–learn, grow, and excel–from a problematic occurrence,” says Hamilton.

The 13-month, weekend-formatted master’s degree accelerates the development of leadership competencies and supports their practical application in the workplace.

Hamilton recommends EML because unlike traditional leadership programs, it offers a comprehensive approach that addresses leadership on a personal, team, and organizational level while integrating critical subject matter from a variety of disciplines: business, government, public policy, history, international relations, behavioral sciences, and ethics. “These subjects give participants added context and greater insight into impacting leadership,” says Assistant Dean of Executive Degree Programs Mary Anne Waikart.

Hamilton says the coursework has aided her in assessing the breadth of market threats, formulating creative alternatives, honing broad decision-making skills, and implementing solutions to address multifaceted challenges.

She leads in crisis situations by using the following strategies:

Lead from the front. Hamilton takes a visible stance during crisis periods and serves as the go-to-person in charge. In this role she provides direction, assurance, and inspiration.

Look for opportunities. Hamilton scrutinizes each exigency for opportunities to adapt, alter, or advance her organization to the changing operating environment.

Employ emotional intelligence. Hamilton prioritizes people over problems. She manages stress at a tolerable level while unifying organizational stakeholders with a common purpose and set of goals before tackling the technical aspects of the crisis.

For more information, contact Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business at

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.