Fayetteville, North Carolina
Military Spouse Entrepreneur
Military Spouse Entrepreneur
"People First ..."
Why they're a Crisis Leader:
When I first contacted Amy about being interviewed, she selflessly made the case that her husband, a 20+ year US Army Infantry Officer with combat experience, would be a better fit.
While I hope to include her husband Jason in this project at some point, too, I’m sure glad she agreed to participate.
The insights, experience, and competence she’s gained as a military spouse and entrepreneur easily rival that of any other leader I interviewed for this project.
If you have any military experience, then you know the incredible crisis leadership role that the spouse performs, for their family, and for their extended military family. And the higher the rank of the service member, the more significant the expectations tend to be of the spouse at home.
In our interview and in our ancillary conversations, Amy spoke extensively about different “thought leaders” that inspire her to help guide her in her professional and private journey.
After spending some time visiting with her, I easily place her in the same category of inspiring thought leadership, and when you hear her insights, you’ll see why.
#1 "What is a Crisis Leader?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What is a Crisis Leader?"
What is a crisis leader?
A crisis leader is someone who relies on their education, their experience, resiliency, and faith to guide a disaster or tragedy through the reconstruction or recovery.
#2 "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
Please share an example of when you relied on your own crisis leadership.
I actually have two examples, and I'd like to share them because they are very different from one another.
The first example happened a couple months ago.
I live in North Carolina, my husband's active-duty Army, and he is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
We have a rental property in Tampa, and our tenants moved in. A week later, they welcomed their third baby into the world, and a little over a week after that, our tenant, with good intentions, tried to fix, or at least check out, a leaky faucet.
Well, it was in the master bathroom on the master bathroom tub, and the faucet, as he started to dismantle it, exploded, and flooded the house with about 500 gallons of water. So since water takes the path of least resistance, water was flowing, pouring, raining out of every recessed light and vent hole there was downstairs.
It was a mess.
The bathroom was flooded, the bedroom was partially flooded, and the downstairs entry, living room, and dining room was flooded.
So I had to rely on my crisis leadership skills significantly for that event because, one, my tenants were involved, and they had just moved into the house, his wife was recovering from giving birth, and now we have a disaster, a destruction of property.
So that was one example of relying on my crisis leadership skills, and that took communication, it took evaluation, it took project management, financial management, and there were some situations that I had not dealt with before that I really had to rely on other experiences to apply to this one.
A second, and very different, crisis that we recently had was, in the Army, we are very far away from all of our families, so our fellow soldiers and their families become very important to us and a big part of our lives, like family.
And there's a family that we are very close with, and her husband was deployed with my husband. And they had seven kids, and their 13-year-old son had made the decision to end his life.
And it has been a very different crisis.
This is a tragedy that is emotional and psychological, and it has required a different set of resiliency skills, one that relied a lot on faith to get us through this particular situation.
So it has definitely been a different crisis that required different skills and a different set of faith that I've really had to rely on to get myself through it, and to guide my children through it, and be supportive of our friends.
#3 "What do you know now that you wish you knew then?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What do you know now that you wish you knew then?"
What do I know now that I wish I knew then?
As a military spouse of 25 years, with several moves and many deployments, I have developed a lot of resiliency skills and different crises require different resiliency skills.
And something that I've learned throughout the years when I'm confronted with a crisis, whether it be a destruction of property, a natural disaster versus a personal tragedy that affects the heart in humans that we care so much about, it requires two different sets of resiliency skills and leadership to guide through that particular crisis.
It really depends on what the crisis is.
What I have learned is to step back and try to remove myself from the situation, trying to examine what I want the outcome to look like and how I'm going to achieve that outcome, setting emotions aside, what tasks need to get done and what feelings and emotions do I need to take into consideration. Not only of my own but for the people that I am guiding through the disasters, through the tragedy. But then also who I am working with, through the disaster and through the tragedy.
So there is a difference there.
Something else I have also learned is, I journal.
I journal at the beginning, during and even after when there is a crisis. And that is so I can go back and I can re-visit and reflect on the feelings that I had in the moment cause it's always different going back when you are no longer in that crisis situation and what that does is it helps build your resiliency and your skill set and your abilities to handle the next crisis or situation that arises with a more well-rounded view.
#4 "What advice would you give someone who wants to improve their own Crisis Leadership?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What advice would you give someone who wants to improve their own Crisis Leadership?"
What advice would you give to a leader who wants to improve their crisis leadership skills and ability?
The advice that I would give is it's just like anything. You have to practice, you have to educate yourself, and you have to look towards other people who are influencers in this space and reflect.
Also, build your own personal resiliency.
And that's something that, in the Army, as a military spouse, they train us. We go to Care Team raining, FRG (Family Readiness Group) Leader Training. We learn a lot about ourselves, and we learn a lot about the crises.
You practice, right? And you evaluate, and you go through scenarios so that when a crisis does arise, this isn't the first time that you're looking at it.
So something that I find very helpful is I like to read different books on leadership and different aspects of leadership because there's a lot of leaders that have a lot of different leadership styles and thought leaders.
So for instance, Brené Brown, she is a very famous author, she's a social worker, and she has two books that I've read. She's got many more books, but the books that I have read is one called "Daring Greatly," and that is about your own personal vulnerability, and it's also about shame, which is a very interesting topic, and I think you'll find it very surprising how much you learn about yourself in that book.
The second is called "Dare To Lead," and that is a book about leading through vulnerability, and leaning into the discomfort, and knowing the discomfort is temporary. But by leaning in and communicating in a wholehearted and vulnerable way, you will be a lot more effective, not only for yourself but the people you are leading.
Another thought leader that I love to read his books, and builds my own resiliency and crisis leadership, is Malcolm Gladwell. He is famous for taking studies, social dilemmas, and tragedies, and weaving them together to change thoughts and perspectives on different things that happen in our lives every day, and we don't link them together, and we don't put them together to create new thoughts and new perspectives, which is really great.
The other thing that I like to do, that I really feel builds your own resiliency and will make you a better leader, or anyone a better leader is getting to know yourself very well, your strengths, your weaknesses, your personality styles, your leadership styles.
So some tools that I've used for that is the Myers-Briggs personality test, the Enneagram, and then also the Clifton Strength Finders.
And what those do is they allow you to really take a look at yourself, and how to develop your own personal leadership style so that you can be the most effective and efficient leader that you can be to the people that you are serving. Because leadership is serving those that are contributing, whether it be volunteer or paid employees. Those people are all working toward the common mission of either the reconstruction or recovery of a crisis event.
#5 "Who is a Crisis Leader that influenced your career?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "Who is a crisis leader that influenced your career?"
Who is a crisis leader that has influenced my career?
I actually have several people who have influenced my career. What I consider on the micro and macro level.
Again, those authors that I read books, those thought leaders that I follow.
They have definitely influenced the way I see the world, the way I approach things, the way I approach situations.
My overall philosophy of dealing with working through a crisis is; people first. I feel that if I put people first, everything else will fall into place. Tasks, well that's easy to formulate a list of tasks, but to actually take care of the people who are working through the event with you, through the reconstruction or recovery, or those affected by the reconstruction and recovery.
And also, how it is affecting you personally and emotionally. I've two other sets of people on the micro-level that have really influenced me and the first are my parents.
I grew up in a home with two emergency room nurses as parents, so they lived in daily crises. In the ER, a very busy ER with a lot of trauma.
So, hearing about their stories, hearing about how they also handled things and how they sprang into action but how they also connected with the families of those patients. It's not just taking care of patients, you also have family members that you sometimes are delivering really bad news to.
The other thing is they also in their mid-40s started an ambulance company. And they were transporting critically ill patients.
So to see my parents, in leadership roles other than being parents was really great for me to see that and I learned a lot.
Not only from them but also the employees that they were serving as leaders for their company and also the patients that they were continuing to serve.
The ultimate micro-level influencer has been my husband. He is an active-duty infantry soldier, has been for almost 20 years now. And I see the way he reacts, and the way he leads his soldiers through events that are sometimes minimal and sometimes very tragic.
And, you know, as a military family, a lot of my time is spent volunteering and serving the families of the unit he leads. So we have a very intimate relationship with those families. And to see his perspective and how he leads through small and large crises and tragedies is very opposite of how I do things.
And so it's great to see how he approaches things because I learn from him. And because I've been involved in many of these situations, it really allows me to see him in a different light than I would otherwise see him as a husband or a father.