New Orleans Needs a Leader

Where’s Jack Welch when you need him?

I’m not one to rant and rave on a blog, but you can’t help but remark on the lack of leadership in New Orleans up until today, because it has been painfully and horribly evident.

Like many Americans, I have been glued to cable new shows at every stolen opportunity, watching the plight of the victims of Hurricane Katrina along the United States’ southern coast on the Gulf of Mexico.

News reports show the telling signs of leaderless police and demoralized emergency and medical workers, who are doing the best they can under awful conditions.

The victims of this horrible tragedy, who for the most part have had no communication whatsoever, and have seen no leaders visibile anywhere on the ground in the midst of this crisis, have reacted predictably. They have cried and begged for help. They are frantic, panicked, incredulous, desperate. They are taking matters into their own hands. And that’s just the ones who are not looting.

Anyone with any kind of business experience immediately recognizes the problem with the relief efforts.

The problem is a total absence of leadership on the ground — no communication, no direction, and no visible leadership.

In this case I do not fault the mayor or even the governor. No official at that level can be prepared for an event of this magnitude, with a major American city becoming uninhabitable literally overnight. They don’t have the staff, the resources, or the experience to deal with a natural disaster like this.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), however, is a different matter altogether. It’s their job to be prepared and to manage relief efforts in natural disasters like this. While I think it is important for everyone to reserve judgment until we get through the current crisis and all the facts come out, at the same time what we are seeing unfold hour by hour cannot help but raise questions.

Someone like a Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, or Rudy Giuliani, or another strong leader would be welcome in a situation like this. Someone to take charge immediately and in a visible way. That’s simply been missing.

President Bush himself stated this morning that relief efforts have been unacceptable.

Since he made that criticism, things seem to be turning around dramatically and quickly.

The past few hours (it is currently 2:00 PM Eastern U.S. time on Friday) have seen a major influx of visible emergency personnel and supplies, at least judging from cable news reports. (And thank goodness for the television news channels and their dedicated reporters — without them we would have no idea about the real situation on the ground in New Orleans.)

After this situation is stablized, let’s hope President Bush has a serious chat with the FEMA Director about “pursuing other career opportunities.”

More importantly, let us all hope and pray that the victims can be evacuated from New Orleans safely as soon as possible.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.