Magoosh GRE

BP Case Study of Leadership During Criss

| March 28, 2015

1. Introduction

Background to the Research
Although effective leadership is essential in order for organizations to achieve their objectives and vision, it may be argued that such leadership is most important during periods of crisis and turmoil. Indeed, it is often during such periods of organizational turmoil that true leadership is best exercised – in line with viewpoints suggesting that leadership and crisis management should go hand in hand (see for instance Barton, 2007). In other words, the hallmark of good leadership ought to include the capacity and competence to steer an organization through a period of crisis and manage the damage that may have been incurred during the crisis.

In an age where the business, social and political environments are has become increasingly volatile and largely integrated, the possibilities for outbreaks of crises have become even more pronounced – such that there are now almost limitless potential sources of crisis that organizations must contend with. Furthermore, the complex nature of modern society coupled with the increasingly sophisticated organizational forms and operations makes it more likely for crises to be less predictable, more difficult to curtail, and much more costly to the organization as well as its stakeholders (Barton, 2007). Indeed, the pressure on contemporary leaders of large institutions in crisis situations is heightened by the combined forces of the mass media, globalization, technological advancement, stakeholder concerns, and regulatory monitoring – all of which compel the leaders to devise timely solutions under the weight of severe public scrutiny. As such, leaders in times of organizational crisis find that they need extraordinary skills and competencies to weather the disruptions brought about by the crisis and return the organization back to its normal course – a task that is often very difficult to accomplish.

There are several possible kinds of crisis that an organization may face at any point in time – for which effective leadership is required. These crises may be caused by internal factors such as poor management decisions and failure of organizational systems and processes, or by external factors such as unforeseen natural events or disruptions in the industry or market (see for instance Lerbinger, 1997; James and Wooten, 2010). Organizational crisis may also include incidences of bankruptcy or a remarkable fall in market value as a result of factors that may or may not be attributable to the organization’s activities (Probst and Sebastian 2005). Irrespective of the source or cause, common features of crises include high threats to the organization, an unusually short time for decision making, and the surprise element that underscores the organization’s relative unpreparedness for such turn of events (Keown-McMullan, 1997). Accordingly, these features of crisis necessarily make great demands of leadership in such difficult situations. Considering the potential for considerable danger to the organization’s structure and operations, the need for swift and appropriate strategic responses to the challenge of managing such organizational turmoil is one that puts the organization’s leadership to task during such trying times. In this sense, a slow response, poor decisions, indecisive action, faulty implementation of decisions or all-round ineffective management of the situation may result in irreparable damage to the organization from which it may never recover.

The difficulty in leading organizations during crisis is that, as has been noted by James and Wooten (2005, p. 141), crisis is often an “emotionally charged situation” – a fact that may significantly affect managers’ ability to think clearly and act decisively considering the organization-wide turmoil. Nonetheless, the extent to which an organization’s leadership to put its acts together and take appropriate actions in crisis situations may be regarded as a serious test of its competency as well as that of the organization as a whole. Indeed, it has been suggested that an institution’s reaction and response to any form of crisis is a reflection of the institution’s general nature – given that the test of crisis is an effective way of demonstrating the extent to which the organization’s systems and structures have been developed to serve the organization’s pursuit of its goals and deal with situations that might attempt to interfere with such goals (James and Wooten, 2005; Coombs, 2005). It is in view of the foregoing that a leader’s competency is evaluated in terms of his or her capacity to institutionalize a crisis management process or framework that that not only anticipates impending crisis, but also prepares for eventualities and mitigate their effects when they do occur (Mitroff, 2004).

However, a noteworthy issue that holds interest in the discussion of organizational crisis is the extent to which such crises may deemed to be truly unexpected; in other words, the question of whether a particular crisis could have been avoided – if there had been good leadership, and if the organization’s management had taken the right decisions and implemented the right actions. In this regard, it has been suggested, for instance, that unexpected crisis situations do not just arise; rather, such crisis situations are often caused by the organization itself – especially because of poor management and failure of communication at critical levels of the organization (see for example Weick and Sutcliffe, 2001; Turner 1976; Coombs, 2006). Determining how the crises developed in the first place is therefore essential to finding solutions and avoiding similar situations in the future. It may also serve to point out the defects in the organization’s leadership and point out the competency gaps in the management that may have caused the organization to face such crisis.

Given that crisis is a clear and present danger to all organizations – and may often occur in spite of preventive measures and when organizations least expect – it is also of interest to also explore the aspects of crisis that may present opportunities for an organization to emerge stronger and better afterwards. In this context, there are deeply established viewpoints that prefer to view crisis from the point of view of opportunity – buttressing Lee Iacocca’s (cited in Braden et al 2005, p.1) assertion that individuals and institutions are “continuously faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems”. As with the danger element that crisis represents which requires effective leadership to tackle, the opportunity elements also requires effective leadership to identify the positives that can be exploited in that situation, as well as the lessons that can be learnt from the crisis that would serve to strengthen the organization.

Exploratory Overview of BP and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
BP is one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies with extensive operations in diverse sectors of the energy industry. It is a global company and operates in up to 80 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas (BP, 2010). With oil production of about 3.8 million barrels a day and 22,400 service stations across the world, BP is reportedly the third largest oil and gas firm in the world (Fortune, 2010), and is active in diverse areas including exploration and production, distribution, refining, petrochemicals, marketing, power generation and renewable energy production.

Considering the delicate nature of the oil and gas industry, and the ever present danger of environmental degradation as a result of oil and gas exploration and production activities, BP – just like most other large energy companies – have had to contend with difficult situations arising from environmental issues in its areas of operation across the world. In this regard, perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the company in its history was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill which occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which has been regarded as the worst accidental oil spill ever recorded in the oil and gas industry (see Telegraph, 2010).

According to reports (e.g. Hoch, 2010; Robertson and Krauss, 2010; Greenpeace, 2010), the oil spill resulted from an explosion of BP’s offshore oil rig which killed 11 of the company’s workers and caused the spilling of several thousand barrels of crude oil over the Gulf of Mexico. The company’s Deepwater Horizon oil well, located deep below the surface of the ocean, leaked about five million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf Coast – causing untold devastation for the local communities, fragile wetlands and the coastal waters that serve them (Greenpeace, 2010). Indeed, the effect of the oil spill was so disastrous that it spanned vast coastlands across several states in the USA specifically Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama. As a result of the lapses and errors of judgment on the part of BP’s engineers and management which was deemed responsible for the oil spill (Bates, 2010), the US government, after an official investigation of the circumstances surrounding the oil spill, placed the blame squarely on BP and held the company accountable for all the expenses and costs associated with efforts to clean up the spill and pay for other damages caused by the incident (see Capitol News, 2010)

The consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are so far-reaching that they may not be accurately estimated. However, in addition to critical health and economic consequences, other key areas where the negative effects of oil spill were felt include ecology, fisheries and tourism. Indeed the spill represented an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions for the areas affected, particularly because of the vast degree of petroleum toxicity and oxygen depletion that it brought about. It also caused severe damage to the fishing industry in the Gulf Coast area – with reports suggesting that losses incurred by the fishing industry were estimated at around US$2.5 billion (see Walsh, 2010). Given the magnitude of the disaster, and the fact that it attracted considerable public and regulatory attention, the combined effect of the oil spill on BP was such that created an organizational crisis never before experienced in the company’s history. In the context of this study, the key issues resulting from the cause and handling of the oil spill was the attitude of the company’s leadership – particularly with regard to the management’s response to the disaster and how it managed the resultant turmoil and backlash.

Significance of the Study
The rationale for undertaking a study of this nature is that leadership cannot claim to be useful and effective if it falters during times of crisis and adversity. A study of leadership can only be complete when the elements serving as basis for ascertaining the quality and effectiveness of leadership in organizational contexts are evaluated under conditions of pressure. Given that the art of good leadership often involves equanimity and judiciousness of the sort that drives the organization towards its goals, it is hardly possible for managers to distinguish themselves as good leaders in the contemporary business world without possessing the capacity to make good decisions and galvanize team efforts notwithstanding the extent of pressure on them. In this sense it is also arguable that no situation can put more pressure on leaders than organizational crisis that threatens the cohesion and operational existence of the organization as a whole; in fact, some scholars insist that there is an inevitable link between crisis management and leadership competence – in order words, leaders’ competencies should be assessed in terms of the extent to which they can manage organizational crisis (see for instance Wooten and James, 2008; Wieck and Sutcliffe, 2001).

In view of the foregoing, the case of BP and its Deepwater Horizon oil spill presents an interesting and particularly useful example that can help in the understanding of the main issues involved in leadership during organizational turmoil. The relevance of the chosen case study is further enhanced by its relative currency – a fact that makes it easier to gain critical insights into the elements that characterize crisis leadership in the modern world of business, especially given that the globalization and increased complexity has made modern business much more intricate. Using he BP case to investigate how leadership may respond to organizational crisis can therefore assist students of leadership to gain vital knowledge that would enhance their own ideas and leadership practice.

Statement of the Problem
Leadership has arguably never been as critical to organizational success as it is in today’s complex and ever-changing business climate. With the increased advancement and sophistication of business activities and expansion of scope and operations by most big businesses, it is perhaps inevitable that at some point things may go wrong – with potentially devastating consequences for the organization if managers do not exercise effective leadership to manage challenges as they arise. Indeed, a good number of managers in organizations who are deemed to lead such organizations may not in fact possess the requisite competencies that equip them with the capacity to deal decisively with crisis situations and re-direct the course of the company towards the path of progress. Considering the significant sophistication of organizational structures and systems in contemporary business, it is tempting for leaders to become over-reliant on such systems – particularly because of their seeming effectiveness in maintaining the progress of the company in normal times. Unfortunately, this sort of automated leadership that relies too much on organizational systems and structures may fail to adjust to the often abrupt shocks that may disconcert the organization when any kind of significant crisis – whether sudden or smouldering – takes root (James and Wooten, 2005).

Accordingly, several theories have emerged out of attempts to contextualize the essence of leadership – especially as it concerns getting the best out of a leader when crisis erupts. Some of these theories have centred on the idea that crisis ought to be seen as an opportunity to exercise leadership in its purest form by demonstrating the problem-solving competencies that sets an individual apart (see for example Braden et al, 2005). There are also theoretical perspectives that focus on the leader’s ability to communicate effectively in spite of the organization-wide confusion that is often the case during crisis (e.g. Fearn-Banks, 2007; 2010). In this view, the leader faces the difficult task of clearly communicating the nature of the crisis as well as its dimensions and implications to members of the organization without creating panic among them. It also involves knowing how to communicate the organization’s situation to external stakeholders and members of the public if necessary. Doing these may require a degree of crisis communication skills which are deemed to be essential for effective leadership (Fearn-Banks, 2010). The absence of such crisis communication skills in a leader may cause members of the organization to not be sufficiently informed about the crisis – which may result in them making dangerous mistakes that might even exacerbate the already bad crisis situation. Similarly, poor communication during the crisis may also create disaffection between the organization and its stakeholders and the general public – resulting in lack of confidence and negative public perception about the organization.

In a practical sense, addressing the issue of crisis leadership in the context of BP underscores certain key elements – one of which is the quality and timeliness of the leadership’s response to a crisis situation. Embedded within this element are the critical issues of honesty (coming clean about the remote and immediate causes of the crisis), contrition (expressing genuine regret about the crisis and its possibly harmful aftermath), finding solutions (thinking up workable and relevant solutions to the problem(s) associated with the crisis), and decisive action (taking bold steps to take the organization out of the crisis as quickly as possible). As such, the response of organizations’ leaders to the crisis in which they find themselves is perhaps the most effective way of determining how competent they are as leaders, and the extent to which they can sustain their claim to leadership.
Aims and Objectives of the Research
The overall objective of this study is to understand what it takes to exercise effective leadership in organizations during periods of severe turmoil. This objective is to be achieved on the basis of the experience of BP and how its leadership responded during what was arguably the company’s biggest ever crisis. Given that aims and objectives underpin academic research by giving meaning and focus to the research process (Bryman, 2001), it is important to clearly spell out the principal and ancillary purposes for which the research is being undertaken. Accordingly, the general aims and objectives of this study are itemised below:

1. To ascertain how well BP’s management team and CEO handled the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
2. To determine how the exercise of leadership during organizational crisis affects the outcome for the organization.
3. To establish the main competencies and qualities that enable effective leadership during such organizational crisis.

Research Questions
Given that this study focuses on investigating how leadership is exercised during periods of organizational turmoil, certain questions pertaining to this central subject-matter necessarily arise. Such questions help construct an investigative framework to facilitate data gathering and discussion. As such, the main research questions that guide the present study may be enumerated as follows:

1. What are the differences between leadership during normal times and leadership during times of crisis?
2. What are the essential requirements that promote effective leadership during organizational crisis?
3. To what extent does effective crisis leadership lessen the impact of the crisis on the organization?

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The study begins with an introduction section in Chapter one which provides a general idea of the subject matter being researched, features background information on the case study, affirms the rationale for the study and the problem statement, and outlines the research objectives as well as the research questions. The second section of the study features the literature review in Chapter two which highlights existing viewpoints in diverse academic literature pertaining to the subject of leadership, crisis management and leadership in periods of crisis. The next section is the methodology section in Chapter three which enlightens the reader about the research methods employed for the study. Chapter four thereafter consists of the presentation of empirical data obtained for the research as well as the methodical interpretation of the findings. The next section hence is Chapter five which features the systematic analysis and discussion of the issues emanating from the empirical data with a view to determining the extent to which the respondents’ statements align with theoretical perspectives and stakeholders’ opinions on the subject. The last section of the dissertation in Chapter six evaluates the aggregate findings from the research and presents concluding viewpoints on the range of issues treated in the study/ It also proffers recommendations on how leadership may become more effective during organizational crises, as well as suggesting how further studies on the subject may explore additional dimensions in order to enrich the literature and facilitate further understanding.

2. Literature Review
Overview
Following an exploratory review of the present subject as well as the presentation of the research questions, aims and objectives in the preceding chapter, this chapter discusses crisis management and leadership from theoretical perspectives. Conceptual clarification was given to crisis management while extant literature is reviewed on the broader issues associated with leadership and crisis management in organisations.

Crisis and Crisis Management
There is no one definition of the term ‘crisis’ (Keown-McMullan, 1997), however, a guiding definition is that a crisis is an event that impacts or has the potential to impact the entire organisation (Mitroff and Anagnos, 2000). A crisis can also be described as a major, unforeseen circumstance that can potentially jeopardise an organisation’s employees, customers, products, services, fiscal situation, or reputation (Callan, 2002, Augustine, 1995, Santana, 2003). This definition is in line with the theory that a crisis is characterised by three elements: high threat, short decision time, and an element of surprise, indicating that each crisis contains an urgency that necessitates decisions and actions to be taken immediately by the people involved (Keown-McMullan, 1997, Reilly 1987).

In an organisation, the managers should be the forefront of handling urgencies and acting in response to a crisis situation, the failure of which effects the motivation of the employees. In a crisis situation, it is possible for employees to lose focus on their work and worry among their impending job loss which effects the productivity of the organisation as a whole. Therefore, how the manager handles a situation could mean the difference between disaster, survival or even financial gain (Boin and ’t Hart, 2003). Managers have to make quick fix decisions on allocating resources, interpret information, respond to possible allegations and issues. In normal scenarios, these sort of decisions are taken without any problems. But in a crisis scenario, sound decision making becomes difficult because of very limited information, stress and pressure which may lead to faulty decision making occurring in either of the 2 ways. In the first case, management cannot produce a sound decision because of disagreement and conflicts between the members of the management trying to save their own skin. The second scenario is the exact opposite of first case where the team are so cohesive which leads to absence of independent critical thinking leading to the suppressing of disagreement and the appraisal of alternatives. In most of the crisis situation, decision makers usually “react” rather than “reflect” on the situation, which may compound the crisis.

While the idea that a crisis as a negative state of affairs is still the most popular construal in the literature, the idea of a positive outcome from a crisis situation can also be found in some definitions and discussion (Keown-McMullan, 1997). For example, Fink (1986, p. 15) defines a crisis as:
…an unstable time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending – either one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome or one with the distinct possibility of a highly desirable and extremely positive outcome. It is usually a 50-50 proposition, but you can improve the odds.

This definition implies that, if managed effectively, a crisis can bring a desirable outcome. Indeed, it has been suggested that an organisation can experience a ‘successful’ crisis that actually leads to improved firm’s performance (Boin and ’t Hart, 2003). Such an outcome is possible because crisis “focuses attention on how tasks are managed and draws new patterns of cohesion, a successfully handled crisis can benefit an organisation” (David, 1990, p. 90). This therefore reinforces the fact that the effective management of crises is important. It should thus entail the execution of well-coordinated actions to limit any damage and preserve or rebuild confidence in the organisation under crisis. It is also important that crisis management should start before a crisis arises and may extend after the ‘actual crisis come to an end, such as after the oil has stopped gushing into the sea (Fink, 1986). Based on this, Santana (2003, p. 308) defines crisis management as:
… an ongoing integrated and comprehensive effort that organisations effectively put into place in an attempt to first and foremost understand and prevent crisis, and toeffectively manage those that occur , taking into account in each and every step of their planning and training activities, the interest of their stakeholders.

There are number of elements within the external environment, shifting of which leads to the occurrence of a crisis. These elements include Political – legal, economic, social and technological forces and these constitutes a complex network within which organisations exist. Even though shifting of these elements do not occur often, organisations needs to consider these elements while drafting their strategy because of negative blow that would be brought about by shifting of these elements. The most common examples are when government across the world come up with a law that bans the sale of certain type of products. This would create substantial disruption in a firm’s operations which would constitute a crisis. This does not mean that every external threat faced by an organisation will constitute a crisis. For e.g., if a government passes a law which would require manufacturers of certain products to have 2 languages in a product pack, rather than having one that is used in the current pack, it cannot be considered as a crisis as it would not probably cause substantial disruption. Therefore, the term ‘crisis’ cannot be used for every external threat and in most of the cases, even though the organisations tend to be regularly exposed to number of actual and potential crisis situations, they fail to recognise its seriousness. The following examples illustrate this reality (Crandall et al, 2009).

Political and legal forces
Some of the political forces that contribute to a shift, that has the potential to lead to a monumental crisis include relations between countries, outcome of meetings between government leaders, rules and regulations and decisions taken by individuals and teams at various levels of government. The legal forces that can contribute to the crisis include laws and legislations passed on by governments, the judgements made by judiciary in various cases involving government and an organisation etc (Crandall et al, 2009) (GOEL, 2009).

In the book, The M3C model of Co operative, Contextual change written by Lloyd.C.Williams et al, they mention that change process brought about by a crisis is fruitful to an organisation only if the individuals who make up the organisation agree to initiate a change from a common point of stability. The process and state of being that would allow the organisation to modify its functioning but while retaining and enlarging its identity is called dynamic stability. The attainment of dynamic stability is obtained by developing a sense of community by which individual gets involved. There are four stable elements of dynamic stability which people can understand and use when they experience the process of community. These four elements include the stake, the ground rules, the systemic relationships, and the solution-oriented mindset. The stake represents an asset, either tangible or intangible, which the community or individual wants to protect with their actions and includes goals, beliefs, structure and processes. The rules for engagement between the community and the external environment as well as the way by which actions are carried out within the community is defined by the ground rules. Systemic relationships among members of the community are important so as to attain an organisation alignment needed to protect the stake. A solution-oriented mindset can be achieved by granting of responsibilities and from learning experience. (Williams et al, 2011).

Economic forces
The economic forces contributing to the shift includes changes in the Gross domestic product and various indicators that show the economic health of a country. These include inflation, exchange rate and interest rates (Labrosse et al, 2009)

Social forces
The social factors contributing to the shift includes values within the society, the change in traditions and religious practices. The crisis from social factors will be disastrous when society / people lose trust in the company or are angry with a corporation. This can be explained by the recent banking and financial crisis. The main reason for the crisis is that people and society and organisations lost trust in each other. There were 2 kinds of trust that was lost which made people flee market In first, as the the future economic growth was revised downwards, there was loss of trust in appreciation of asset value, In the second, as people found that governing authorities and legal frameworks was not adequate to ensure the efficient operation of the markets, they lost trust in the functioning of the market. This made people withdraw huge sums of money from the banks, who were not in a position to fulfil the demand because the banks or organisations from which they were expecting money were not willing to provide them the cash. What made people angrier was that banks or other financial institutions were paying huge amount of bonuses to their employee while people outside these institutions were losing money. This opportunistic behaviour of bankers, stockbrokers, investment bankers etc lead to a situation where common man lost trust in the stock market, which is an indicator of the performance of top companies of a nation, and it plummeted down to record levels not seen in recent memory. The spiral effects lead to laying off of thousands of people which affected the economies of the countries across the world because as companies lay off workers, their spending capacity reduces. Once their spending capacity reduces, then they are not in a position to go to high street shops to buy products. When people are not going to high street shops to buy products, then these shops lay off people thereby affecting the local economy. Most of these people would be having a number of commitments like paying their mortgage, credit card debt, personal loans etc. When people are not in a position to pay off these debts, the financial institutions are not in a position to roll over money which hits the core of banking activity. Thus, this shift in one social factor called trust has lead to one of the most dreadful global crisis ever experienced by mankind in recent history. Even though, it’s been close to 2 years since the crisis, a vast majority of countries and organisations have not yet been able to recover fully from the impact (Crandall et al, 2009; Jordan-Meier, 2011).

Technological forces
The technological factors which contribute to shift include major scientific innovations or improvements. These innovations or improvements can lead to either creation of new opportunity or threat to existing businesses. Technological innovations and improvements have the capability to destroy not only existing businesses but also entire industry as well. For example, personal computers were a fantastic technological innovation which gave rise to a entire new industry centred around computers which includes monitors, servers, operating systems etc. But the rise of the computer industry was followed by the slow demise of the type writing industry following the development of word processors and personal computers (Moore, 2005). In fact, just a couple of months back, world’s last remaining typewriting factory was closed by its owners Godrej and Boyce in Mumbai, India
Over the period of last few decades, different frameworks for crisis have been developed by taking into account different stages of crisis. The frame work for a crisis is based on the analysis of the life cycle of the crisis and this is usually accounted for by three-stage approach and four-stage approach (Laws, 2006).

The three-stage framework is the most basic approach to crisis and involves the following stages – PreCrisis, Crisis and Post Crisis. Different experts have suggested different formats for three-stage format. In the three-stage approach suggested by Smith (1990), Crisis of management constitutes the Pre Crisis stage; the crisis stage is called Operational Crisis and post crisis stage is called Crisis of Legitimation. In the Crisis of Management stage, a crisis can be easily triggered by a event due to the fact that organisation is not prepared to handle the crisis and actions of the leaders in the organisation does not inspire confidence in their teams. In the second stage, called the Operational Crisis stage, all the key leaders in the organisation put their heads together and try to develop quick fix solutions to get over the crisis. In the third stage called Crisis of Legitimation, the key stakeholders in the organisation including the ones who played a major role in Operational stage starts looking for scapegoats so as to shift blame and to appear legitimate and rightful in the eyes of public after the crisis (Andari, 2010) (Coombs, 2010).

Another approach to three-stage framework is the one suggested by Richardson (1994). In this framework, the Pre-Crisis stage is called disaster phase and this phase focuses on neutralising all the threats that may cause a crisis. In Crisis stage is called Rescue stage and is focused on the occurrence of the crisis. The Post Crisis stage is called Demise stage which emphasis on restoring stakeholders confidence in the organisation following the occurrence of the crisis (Coombs, 2010).

Another approach to crisis is a four – stage framework which adds an additional stage, to the three-stage framework, which focuses on the progression as it happens during the crisis. In one of four-stage framework suggested by Myers (1993), the first stage is a Operations stage, where the organisations puts in standard operating procedures and crisis management teams to act in response to the occurrence of the crisis. The second stage is the emergency response stage which focuses on the response that needs to be initiated in the first few hours following the occurrence of the crisis. The third stage is called Interim processing stage where stop gap arrangement and temporary procedures are put in place until the restoration of normal operations. The fourth stage is the restoration stage where the organisation comes back to normal operations (Coombs, 2010) (Crandall, 2009).

Another approach to four-stage framework was put forward by Fink (1996). In the approach, the first stage is called Prodormal stage which is stage before a full blown crisis and shows all the red flags and warning signs that a crisis is imminent. If remedial measures are taken during the prodormal stage, then a crisis can be prevented. The second stage is called Acute crisis stage and this is stage where actual crisis is happening and normal operations are seriously disrupted. This is also the stage where outsiders of the organisations get to see and hear about the crisis on a regular basis. The third stage is called chronic crisis stage which is not as dramatic as acute crisis stage and the organisation is trying to clean the mess created during the acute crisis stage. The Resolution stage is the final stage where the organisation has just gotten over the crisis and is slowly coming back to the normal operations (Fink, 1996)
Five stage frameworks is another approach to crisis and provide a more detailed approach than the three stage framework and four stage frameworks. It provides a more detailed understanding of different stages of the crisis (Perason & Mitroff, 1993).
In the five-stage framework suggested by Pearson and Mitroff (1993), the following stages are included :
• Signal detection: These are warning or red flags which occur when an organisation is slowly moving towards a crisis. In most cases, these warning and red flags are raised by people on the ground or lower level or middle level management or those directly interacting with customers. Detecting these signals and accepting them as ones which may lead to crisis so as to try to look at ways to manage a crisis is a skill not found is many leaders. Developing a mindset and skills so to become adept at detecting these signals is what organisations needs to embrace (Perason & Mitroff, 1993).
• Preparation / prevention – In this stage, organisation gets ready to attack the crisis by setting up crisis management teams and workings on different plans to tackle different crisis occurring in different forms. The approach towards a crisis management will be through a systematic manner and should be on going. The objective from which this step is approached is to ensure that any crisis that may occur gets nipped in the bud (Perason & Mitroff, 1993).
• Containment / damage control – This stage focuses on actual management of the crisis and trying to contain it with as minimal damage as possible to the organisation and stakeholder (Perason & Mitroff, 1993) (Mitroff, 1992).
• Recovery – This stage focuses on bringing the workings of the organisation to as normal a stage as possible. The recovery process passes through different sub stages. The short term recovery stage tends to bring the working on the organisation to a minimal acceptable level of service. The short term recovery is followed by long term recovery where the operational capabilities of the organisation reach pre crisis level. In some cases, long term recovery will be followed by another recovery process whereby the organisation tends to work at a higher level than that was observed during the precrisis stage. For example, if a fire at a production facility destroys a old machine which has the capability to produce ‘X’ number of products every hour, then a modern machine which has been installed following a crisis has the capability to produce ‘2X’ products thereby ensuring higher level of productivity when compared to the Pre Crisis period (Perason & Mitroff, 1993) (Mitroff, 1992).
• Learning – This fifth stage, post the recovery stage, focuses on improvising operational problems so as to prevent the occurrence of future ones. The stages emphasises on reflecting on the crisis and documenting the lessons learnt rather than finding scapegoats and blaming other parties (Perason & Mitroff, 1993).
Particularly important during major crises such as the BP oil spill, which affects many different stakeholders, is crisis communication. Crisis communication, which involves communicating with a range of stakeholders, generally relates to the public relations element of crisis management, and is arguably the single most important aspect of the organisation’s response to the crisis. It therefore requires communication with internal stakeholders, including employees and shareholders, and external stakeholders, such as customers, the media, and the surrounding community, about what occurred and how the organisation is managing the crisis (Callan, 2002).

Effective Leadership in Crisis
Leadership is one of the most discussed topics in times of crisis because, to most people, the importance of leadership is clear since effective organisational leadership:
…provides a sense of cohesiveness, personal development, and higher levels of satisfaction among those conducting the work; and it provides an overarching sense of direction and vision, an alignment with the environment, a healthy mechanism for innovation and creativity, and a resource for invigorating the organisational culture (Van Wart, 2003, p. 214).

As with trying to define ‘crisis,’ there are also many definitions of ‘leadership’ (Stodgill, 1974). Some researchers present established definitions of leadership, for example Kotter (1999, p. 10) defines leadership as “[t]he development of a vision and strategies, the alignment of relevant people behind those strategies and the empowerment of individuals to make the vision happen, despite obstacles.” Alternatively, some researchers present more general definitions of leadership that may apply equally well to leadership in organisations as to leadership in other settings. Peter. G.Northouse in his book “Leadership: Theory and Management” (2007 explores four components that are central to leadership:

(1) Leadership is a process.
(2) Leadership involves influence.
(3) Leadership occurs in a group context.
(4) Leadership involves goal attainment.

Based on these four components, Northouse coined a definition which states that “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2007, p .3). The concept of leadership has evolved over a period of time which typically reflects the larger society as norms, attitudes, and understandings in the larger world have evolved and thereby changed (Richard Daft, 2005).

Crisis leadership effectiveness depends largely on an organisation which is responsible for creating an environment for the leadership to operate. A highly experienced and competent manager will still struggle to successfully manage a crisis if there is no adequate support from his colleagues and if the groups are poorly structured and disorganised. Micheal Blyth in his book Business continuity management: Building an effective incident management plan mentions about the following organisational principles to support effective crisis leadership (Blyth, 2009).

Clear responsibilities
Demarking of clear responsibilities in organisation will ensure that gaps and shortfalls are avoided and duplication of efforts is prevented. Establishing clear responsibilities will also ensure that during the occurrence of crisis along with internal company politics are eliminated (Blyth, 2009) (Fearn-Banks, 2007).

Training and education
Every organisation should develop a team of leaders who have expertise in dealing with crisis situations and that companies should regularly train these leaders by keeping aside time and resources. These leaders should be regularly trained on managing crisis and utilisation of policies, systems, tools and protocols (Blyth, 2009) (Fearn-Banks, 2007).

Practice and rehearsals
Regular practice and rehearsals by the crisis management groups will ensure that any loopholes or shortfalls. Regular practice will not only increase the confidence of crisis management team but also help develop familiarity with the Crisis management plans (Blyth, 2009).

Empowering Leadership
An organisation should develop certain parameters within which crisis management leadership should be empowered and given the freedom to operate. This decentralization process will ensure that crisis at the local level can bring about effective management in times of crisis. Having a centralised leadership in terms of crisis management will significantly undercut the ability of leaders in the ground to successfully manage crisis (Fearn-Banks, 2010).

Delegation
An important aspect of crisis management structure and the one which is the core component of empowering leadership is to sensibly delegate responsibilities to the lowest level decision making abilities so as to put in place a structured and streamlined management system (Blyth, 2009).

Authority lines
During the crisis, middle level managers should be aware of the person to be contacted for requisite permissions so as to prevent a scenario where the people attempt to name a decision maker during the crisis event. To ensure that swift actions are taken during the crisis, clear authority lines and permissions should be granted to the crisis management team and people within the organisation must be made aware of the responsibilities of their colleagues in times of crisis (Blyth, 2009).

Established systems and supporting mechanisms
Effective response to a crisis can be generated by having established systems and support mechanisms in place. Establishing these strategies in place prior to the crisis will help crisis leaders in taking logically defined decisions which will develop confidence among their peers and sub ordinates (Devlin, 2006).

Innovation and Flexibility
The cornerstones of effective crisis leadership are Innovation and flexibility as crisis tends to be unique every time thereby requiring tailored approach for achieving resolution (Blyth, 2009).
Leveraging
Companies and crisis management teams must be smart enough to leverage both outward and inward resources, capabilities, knowledge and also external resources so as to ensure that it does not lose out opportunities for effectively responding to the crisis (Blyth, 2009).. The leadership framework for crisis management involves drafting a crisis management policy, setting up of crisis management team, developing a communication strategy, establishing partnerships and ensuring preparedness of the crisis management team with regular practice and training sessions.

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Drafting the crisis management policy includes setting the tone for leadership commitment and mentioning the generic guidelines for action. This policy is based on an organisation’s values and philosophy (Crisis management – a leadership challenge, 2011). After drafting the policy, the next step is to establish a crisis management team. The crisis management team analyzes different scenarios leading to a crisis and plans for the scenarios. Also while establishing a management team, the roles and responsibilities of different members of team are established so as to prevent ambiguity in times of crisis (Crisis management – a leadership challenge, 2011) (George, 2011).

Following the setting up of a crisis management team, an effective communication strategy and infrastructure will ensure that there is going to be a consistent flow of information to all stakeholders at all time (Crisis management – a leadership challenge, 2011) (George, 2011). The established crisis management team should go about setting up of partnership with external agencies / organisations so as to ensure availability of critical resources and timely help (Crisis management – a leadership challenge, 2011) (George, 2011). To ensure preparedness of the crisis management team and make sure that they are always on their toes, regular training programmes needs to be conducted and the capability of the crisis management to deal with crisis situation should be checked from time to time through mock drills (Crisis management – a leadership challenge, 2011) (George, 2011).

Leadership is particularly important in crisis situations and Boin and ’t Hart (2003) argue that crisis and leadership are closely related phenomena. Since crisis situations are times of uncertainty, people inside and outside the organisation look to leaders to ‘do something’ and thus the visibility of top management, particularly the CEO, during a crisis assures the public that the crisis is being tackled at the highest levels (Halverson et al., 2004, Sadgrove, 2005). Top managers must also actively engage in long-term corrective and preventive actions to avoid being involved in crises time again (Augustine, 1995). Additionally, leaders need to understand the dynamics and psychology of a crisis if they are going to respond well because crisis events require the organisation to make considerable changes to its ‘standard operating procedures’ while still responding to the crisis (Borodzicz, 2000, Santana, 2003). This seems to be have been missing in the case of BP, as the company has found itself in several crises situations over the past five years that have done major damage to its image and left it seemingly unable to respond well to new crises. In the latest oil spill, the leadership performance of BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, was not well received. According to Boin and ’t Hart (2003, p. 544): When crisis leadership results in reduced stress and a return to normality, people herald their ‘true leaders’… But when the crisis fails to dissipate and ‘normality’ does not return, leaders are obvious scapegoats.

This view of leadership sits quite comfortably with the forms of organization that are common in business, the armed forces and government. Where the desire is to get something done, to achieve a narrow range of objectives in a short period of time, then it may make sense to think in this way. However, this has its dangers. Different leaders have different styles. A great deal of power remains in their hands and the opportunity for all to take responsibility and face larger questions is curtailed (George, 2011). The question to be investigated in this research is: What lessons can be learnt by Hayward performance as a leader during this crisis? The way in which this question can be answered is described in the next section.

3. Methodology

Introduction
This chapter focuses of the methodologies that have been used by the researcher during the course of this research. Research Methodology is the course taken by the researcher to find answers to research questions (Kumar, 2005).

Middle level managers from BP were engaged in a semi structured interview which focused on their view of BP’s leadership in general and their opinion of how their leaders went about handling Deepwater Horizon Oil rig disaster in particular. The answers collected have been used to provide a simple overview of the factors contributing the crisis and then BP CEO Tony Hayward’s performance as a leader during the crisis

Research Methodology
The various paths or courses available to choosing data collection techniques and analysis procedures can be depicted by using research “onion” (Fig A). The centre of the onion gives an idea on the exact way of collecting the data to answer research questions and this centre is reached by peeling away important layers. The important layers that needs to be peeled away to reach the centre point i.e. data collection methods include research philosophy, research approach, Research strategies and Time horizons (Saunders, 2009).

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Research Philosophy
The development and nature of knowledge encompasses the term research philosophy. This development and nature of knowledge contains important assumptions on the way a researcher views the world which underpins a researcher’s choice of a research strategy and the methods chosen as part of the strategy. This philosophical commitment not only has a significant impact on what researcher does but also on how they understand things while investigating (Johnson, 2006).
The three different research philosophies are Positivism, Interpretivism and Realism. Positivism involves development of knowledge based on observable social reality. The end product of research based on Positivism philosophy is law like generalisations similar to those produced by natural scientists. Intrepretivism involves development of knowledge based on the understanding of differences between humans in roles as social actors and the emphasis on their variables such as behaviour, mood and previous experience. Realism is the development of knowledge based on scientific approach and assumes the independent existence of objects from the human mind (Kothari, 2008) .
The research philosophy adopted for this dissertation is Intrepretivism as the development of knowledge was through questioning and dialogue by which people shared their experience. This is because feelings and attitudes towards performance management as “social phenomena that have not external reality and cannot be measured and modified” (Saunders et al, 2006). Interpretavist stance provides scope for the researcher to use phenomological case studies of people and how they make sense of the world, using their opinions and experience of performance measures in the working environment. Postivisim was not preferred because conducting research among people involves taking into consideration various factors such as behaviour, mood etc which is advocated by interpretivism rather than objects such as trucks and computers as advocated by positivism, whereas emphasis is on working with observable social reality. On the flip side, the difficulty of taking interpretavist stance is that findings make not be generalisable. However, it may be that the types of people being interviewed, due to culture of a BP background, have similar thought processes and hence are generalisable with a BP context (Goddard, 2004).

Research Approach
Deductive research and inductive research are the research approaches which results in the achievement of new knowledge. Deductive research is more like a top down approach to research where objectives are established followed by defining of key definitions and assumptions. Then the researchers works through a logical structure, based on the key definitions and assumptions, to accomplish the objective. Inductive research is more like a bottom up approach to research where conclusion is drawn only from observations of specific situations (Panneerselvam, 2004).
This research involved the development of theory only after analysis of collected data therefore approaching research through inductive approach. Deductive approach was not chosen as the approach required the development of theory and hypothesis and then testing of this hypothesis by designing a research strategy whereas this research was based on finding view of BP’s middle level managers on their leaders handling of Deepwater Horizon Oil rig disaster and the performance of then BP CEO Tony Hayward’s performance as a leader during the crisis, which was the outcome of data collected through semi structured interview. Using Saunders et al’s ( 2006) characteristics of inductive research, the following are reasoned.
An understanding will be gained of the meanings humans attached to events through the meanings they attach to performance management, and there will be a close understanding of the research context through the investigation of reasons as to how best to operationalise performance measurements (Kumar, 2005) .
The data to be collected will be qualitative, which suggests that the deductive approach is more natural. There may be the potential for collections of qualitative data as well that may lend itself to a deductive approach, but the number of people intended to be interviewed would not enable any generalizations to be made (Kumar, 2005) .
The flexible approach of the inductive stance means that if findings lend themselves to a change of direction within the dissertation, this will be possible (Singh, 2009) .
The researcher realizes that as part of the research process, ideas developed may translate into action research as they are suggested to the interviewees (Kumar, 2005).

Research Strategy
The analysis of the collected data so as to obtain information through systematic and orderly approach is called Research strategy. In management studies, the three important research strategies that are rooted in inductive approach and are commonly used include case study, grounded theory and Ethnography. A research strategy for a research is chosen based on certain criteria’s like research questions and objectives, availability of time and resources, existing knowledge level etc (Kumar, 2005).
During this research, the researcher used a case study approach which Robson (1999, p. 146) defines as “a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context using multiple sources of evidence.” This was chosen because, in this research, “a ‘how’ or ‘why’ question is being asked about a contemporary set of events, over which the researcher has little or no control,”. The case study approach will not only entail in depth examination of single case but also engage many variables with collecting of information from multiple sources such as interviews with BP personals, archival data from BP’s files etc. This research strategy will be used as part of a qualitative methodology because qualitative research examines the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of human behaviour and so does the case study methodology (Yin, 2003).
Other strategies such as grounded theory and ethnography which are rooted in inductive approach was considered but it did not fit the scope of this research because of the fact that they are time consuming (Kumar, 2005).

Data Collection method
• Sampling
The research objectives were concerned with understanding of BP’s middle managers view of BP’s leadership in general and their opinion of how their leaders went about handling Deepwater Horizon Oil rig disaster in particular and then BP CEO Tony Hayward’s performance as a leader during the crisis. Therefore, the sampling frame for this research included middle-level and senior level managers of BP. Only those managers who have in depth analysis related to the topic of interest were chosen. This method of sampling is called purposive sampling. Unlike random sampling in which every combination of respondents from the sampling frame has a known probability of occurring, purposive sampling is used in the research when the research selects those respondents that are most appropriate for the study (Robson, 1999). Purposive sample is powerful because it allows the researcher to choose respondents that have the most information for in-depth analysis related to the central issues being examined. The richest information is not likely to be available from the ‘typical’ case and so using purposive sampling will allow examine in detail the root causes of a given issue and its consequences. A close colleague of researcher who is on the staff of BP helped the researcher in short listing only those managers with access to in depth knowledge of the research topic and on the basis of the contact details provided by the provided by the researcher’s colleague, the researcher sent across email requesting for an appointment to the discuss the research topic and only those who expressed willingness to part of the research was interviewed (Jackson, 2008).

• Data Collection
Data will be collected in face-to-face interviews with three middle level managers within BP over a period of one week. Thus till date collected is the primary data. The data will be collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews. Semi-structured interviews were chosen over alternative approaches, such as focus groups and surveys, as this method will allow researcher to guide the research and probe for deeper answers, elaborations, and examples to allow further explanation of specific topics and at the same time cover a wider scope if undiscovered issues should arise (Robson, 1999). Additionally, semi-structured interviews allow interviewees to tell the interviewer what they consider most significant (Marshall and Rossman, 1999). Semi-structured interviewing starts with more general questions or topics rather than the formulation of detailed questions ahead of time and so structured and unstructured questions will be outlined prior to the interviews based on the research question framework (Marshall and Rossman, 1999). In this research, relevant topics will have to be initially identified as well as the possible relationship between these topics and the issues. These managers are responsible for teams of professionals and would be able to provide insight into leadership issues in the organisation, allowing them to accurately articulate ‘rich’ descriptions of their experience of leadership at BP. Each interview is expected to last between 30 and 90 minutes and the interviews will be transcribed within one week of having conducting them to ensure that no additional material or observations were lost or forgotten (Marshall and Rossman, 1999).

Following the collection of primary data, secondary data was collected so as to understand get a overall prespective of BP’s leadership and its response to deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This data was obtained by analyzing various sources including internet and published guides (Jackson, 2008) .
• Data Analysis
This research will use qualitative content analysis to interpret the data collected and further analysis will be carried out by triangulating these findings with the findings of the literature review and the questions and topics that this raised. Content analysis is often recommended for analysing semi-structured interviews because it allows the researcher to identify themes, concepts, and meanings and is a way of classifying content (Krippendorff, 2004). As there is existing (but incomplete) theory about crisis management, this research will use a directed approach to content analysis, which allows existing theoretical frameworks to be validated (and sometimes extended) (Hsieh and Shannon, 2005).

In the directed approach to content analysis, extant theory will be used to form codes that will be used in the initial analysis. Data that do not fit into these predetermined codes will be identified and later analysed to determine whether they represent a new category or a subset of a current category. Data that cannot be coded will be identified and analysed later, as suggested by Hsieh and Shannon (2005), to determine if they represent a new category or a subcategory of an existing code. While this method has limitations, the accuracy of predetermined categories can be increased by using an audit trail and audit process (Krippendorff, 2004). By compiling a spreadsheet of literature topics and cross-referencing this to the interviews, it is hoped to be able to correlate findings that produce new insights into the implementation of performance measurement and enable a more effective method of doing so at BP and potentially, within other organisations.

Data quality issues
The drawback of doing a semi structured interview is the lack of standardisation in these interviews. But the researcher still went ahead with the current interview structure because of the fact that the topic of interest is complex and dynamic and using a semi structured interview approach will provide an opportunity for the interviewer to explore the topic in greater detail (McBurney, 2009). Therefore, in order to overcome these issues, careful planning was done which has been described below.
1. Level of knowledge
The effectiveness of interviewing particular manager and their level of knowledge in the deepwater horizon oil spill was obtained by researcher following a detailed discussion with a colleague, who was working in BP. The literature review provided enough level of knowledge with respect to the situational context (McBurney, 2009).

2. Level of information given to the interviewee
The interviewees were given relevant information with respect to the research including the topic of the research, the motive of conducting the research and goal to be accomplished by the end of the research (McBurney, 2009).
3. Appropriateness of location
The prior appointment was taken before meeting the managers. A meeting room within the BP offices was chosen as the location for the meeting. This was done so to ensure that there is minimal disturbance during the interview process (Louis Cohen, 2000).
4. Appearance in the interview.
Even though BP is a highly successful and highly powered organization, its dress code is causal i.e. no suits. Therefore, the researchers appearance was also causal which not only went in sync with BP’s dress code but also went well with the semi structured approach to interview Louis Cohen, 2000)..
5. Opening comment during the commencement of the interview.
To ensure that the discussion shapes in the right direction, the participants of the interview were given the brief on the motive of conducting the research and goal to be accomplished by the end of the research and following their consent, interview questions were put forward Louis Cohen, 2000)..
6. Questioning approach
The researcher made sure that the questions put forward for the interview were open ended questions. This was done so as to ensure that the researcher had the opportunity to explore the question in greater detail. Also, while discussing the questions, the researcher was careful not to use highly complex industry jargons whose meanings may vary with the interviewee. In scenarios where the use of jargons were essential, the researcher took care to ensure that both the researcher and the interviewee had the same understanding Louis Cohen, 2000)..
7. Behaviour during the interview
The researcher ensured that at all times there was appearance of enjoying the interview process as any appearance of boredom will not encourage the interviewee to give a good response. Also, for the answers given by the interviewee, the researcher made sure that a neutral response was projected so as to not to provide lead that may result in bias Louis Cohen, 2000).
8. Demonstration of attentive listening skills
In order to ensure that the interviewee gives as much information as possible, the researcher made sure that the thoughts were held back deliberately. Defending or arguing a particular point of view mentioned by the interviewee would not only result in diverting away from the topic but will also stop flow of thoughts (Jackson, 2008).
9. Documentation of the data
The information gleaned from the interviewee was recorded using audio recording equipment and also by taking down notes while the interview was in progress (Jackson, 2008).
10. Generalisability

As this research follows Intrepretivism, the development of knowledge was through questioning and dialogue by which people shared their experience. These sharing of knowledge are highly subjective and vary on the moods and behaviour of the people. Therefore, the concerns raised in the dissertation are organisation specific to B.P and may not be applicable to other organisations. But the problems associated with arriving at the right kind of Leadership and crisis management is universal and therefore this dissertation will be useful in other contexts (Jackson, 2008).
11. Access and Ethical Considerations
Access to the organisation is to be gained via a close colleague that is a currently on staff at BP. Complying with the ‘Qualitative Research and the Data Protection Act 1998,’ before every interview the researcher will give participants an informed consent form, explaining that the interview will be recorded and that they have the right to withdraw at anytime and withhold any information that they do not wish to share (Marshall and Rossman, 1999). The participants will then be required to sign a consent form before the interview commences. The researcher has read and understood the university’s ethics policies relating to the dissertation and is confident that the dissertation will be carried out by ensuring the following.
• All interviewees have the choice whether or not to participate in the research
They were provided with the outline proposal for the research. The interviewees provided written consent prior to taking up the interview and were given the option of withdrawing from the interview anytime (Jackson, 2008).
• Selection of interviewee on the basis of the most appropriate people
The intention of the researcher was to get the information from the people who had been hands on involved in the crisis and in most of the cases, those involved in the day to day managing of the crisis were the heads of various departments. In scenarios where the researcher request for an interview was turned down by the ‘heads’, the researcher went about through the research by interviewing the deputy or people further down the line so as to get as much authentic information as possible (Greenfield, 1996).
• Interviewees are anonymised in the dissertation
In order to get the most objective responses from the interviewees, the researcher intends to safeguard the confidentiality of the response. The researcher made it clear to the interviewees that they will not be identifiable in the final piece of work and that the main purpose of this project is to produce a dissertation for completion of the Masters course. If BP finds that the research and findings may promote good practice, then no references will be made to any participants in the reports and recommendations. The interviewees will also be made clear that recording of the interview is only for the purpose of transcribing the interview and once the interview is transcribed then the recording will be deleted (Greenfield, 1996).
• The responses generated from research questions will be analysed qualitatively alongside its comparison to the issues generated from literature review

While working on the dissertation, the researcher will conduct in an ethical and professional way as it befits the organisation and the university. In case of change of methodology, the researcher will always keep the project under review to ethical consideration. On completion of the dissertation, a summary of the main findings will be emailed to all the respondents who are interested in the outcome of the research (Greenfield, 1996).
4. Empirical Data & Discussion

Background
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill can be regarded as one of the most tasking challenges ever faced by the leadership of BP at any point in its history. The seriousness of the disaster required the management team, particularly the then CEO Tony Hayward to draw from a wellspring of competencies to manage the unfortunate fall outs of the oil spill. Opinions may be divided on how well Mr. Hayward and the management team led BP through the crisis and the elements that underpinned the leadership process; for the purposes of this research however, there were four different interviews with four respondents from BP (in the managerial cadre), whose opinions serve as basis for analysis. The main subject areas addressed by the interview questions, for which respondents’ comments centred on key themes include: (1) Fundamentals of Effective Leadership; (2) Assessment of Leadership Response to the Deepwater Horizon crisis; and (3) Soft Leadership Skills and Technical Competence during the Crisis.

Fundamentals of Effective Leadership
Subsidiary Questions:
a. In your view, what constitutes effective leadership?
b. Can you ascribe effective leadership to BP’s management team?

Respondent 1 (R1)
For R1, effective leadership gets the job done and makes no excuses for failure. It addresses problems expeditiously and finds viable solutions rather than apportioning blames or shirking responsibility. As this respondent puts it:
Effective leadership is all about getting the job done: achieving goals, finding solutions to problems, creating conducive environment for progress, succeeding at what the organization sets out to do. That’s it. As long as a leader is able to get the job done and respond swiftly to challenges as they arise – as opposed to failing when it matters and then making excuses for such failure or declining to accept responsibility – then such a leader may be regarded as effective.
R1 also believes that the management team of BP has a track record of effective leadership, which explains the company’s considerable success over the years as one of the oil super-majors, and is also evident in the way the leadership has managed crisis situations. In the view of this respondent, mistakes do happen – and are in fact inevitable in any human enterprise. What matters, however, is how the leadership manages the aftermath of the mistakes and puts measures in place to avoid similar mistakes in future. For him this is one of the elements of effective leadership that he finds in BP’s management:
I believe BP’s management team has emerged from the recent catastrophe better than before; lessons have been learnt. Considering the lives lost to the disastrous oil spill, and the extent of damage done, it wouldn’t be fair to say that the company’s leadership was entirely effective in the circumstances. However, it must also be said that part of leadership is taking responsibility and accepting blame rather than making excuses. To that extent one might suggest that the company’s leadership realizes the terrible consequences of the mistakes the company made, and has learnt vital lessons that can only make us stronger and better.

Respondent 2 (R2)
Leadership is effective when it is competent, motivational and insightful. A leader must have not only a sound knowledge of the technical aspects of management, but must also possess the ability to inspire confidence and make good decisions. R2 contends that there is in fact no such thing as leadership without effectiveness – given that it cannot be called leadership if it cannot lead.
Leadership has to be effective for it to be truly leadership; effectiveness and leadership go hand in hand. If a leader cannot solve problems and coordinate the activities of the group towards the common goal, then their claim to leadership might be considered inappropriate. And the fundamental attributes of leadership are competence, good judgment, and motivational skills. I have found that all three elements are necessary for a manager to lead effectively.
R2 suggests that leadership in a company as large and diversified as BP is a continuum which cannot be described in a particular way except if one seeks to describe the current leadership. In this light he considers the leadership of current BP CEO Bob Dudley as effective in view of how he has managed the company’s difficult situation since he assumed leadership in 2010. For R2, leadership should be regarded as effective if it successfully reduces tension in the organization and charts a new direction in the aftermath of a serious crisis from which the organization is trying to recover:
Having come this far as an energy company clearly indicates that we’ve had a reasonable amount of effective leadership over the years; it is only fair to speak in present terms. To a large extent I would ascribe effective leadership to Bob Dudley and the management team for the way they have dealt with the difficult conditions the company grappled with after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. They have rebuilt confidence within the organization and set our sights back on the course; how quickly we fully recover from the effects of the oil spill is not only down to the leadership, but to all of us at the company.

Respondent 3 (R3)
R3 also believes that effective leadership involves the capacity to make good decisions, manage difficulty and motivate team members to strive towards goal-attainment:
Effective leadership has the experience and competence required to make sound decisions, stay calm and focused under pressure, and inspires members of the organization to perform better in spite of internal or external circumstances
For this respondent, the effectiveness of BP’s management can only be assessed in terms of its capacity to manage the affairs of the company both in good times and bad times; and while his own assessment may be more holistic and inclusive of a broad range of considerations, other disinterested parties and neutral stakeholders may prefer to make an assessment of the company’s leadership effectiveness on the basis of the oil spill disaster which the management could not avert:
From my point of view as a mid-level manager, BP’s management team may be credited with effective leadership in the way it has managed the affairs of the company and created an environment in which employees can give their best and help achieve corporate goals. However, we cannot shy away from the obvious mistakes and disastrous events of the recent past – the effects of which we have yet to fully recover. I understand that wider assessments of BP’s leadership would consider the outcomes of the internal and external investigations of the matter; objective evaluation of the company’s leadership squarely on that basis may rightly question the effectiveness of its leadership – both in the way that the crisis could not be prevented, and the way in which its damaging consequences would not be quickly controlled.

Respondent 4 (R4)
Leadership should always rise to the occasion and be proactive in decision-making in order for it to be effective. This is essentially how R4 views leadership, and it underscores her perception of BP’s management team. For this respondent, effective leadership not only ensures that crisis does not erupt as a result of poor judgement, but also takes proactive measures towards countering the negative effects of erroneous decisions and action. This is in addition to the view that it is particularly in difficult times that the difference between good leadership and poor leadership can become very apparent.
Admittedly, one cannot lay claim to effective leadership if one often makes bad decisions as a result of poor judgment and lack of foresight; o I have to say that effective involves the ability to exercise good judgement and to be proactive in planning the organizations course. But then errors do happen every now and then, and so part of the effective leader’s characteristic is that he or she is able to skilfully counter the effects of such errors and prevent them from causing far reaching damage. It is therein in the context of these abilities that I would attempt to evaluate the leadership effectiveness of our management team.
Although this respondent seems to adopt a rather careful approach with some degree of prevarication, it may be suggested that she essentially rates the BP management team on the basis of its ability or inability to prevent the outbreak of crisis on the one hand, and on the other hand its degree of success in managing the aftermath of the crisis. Understanding her opinion on the matter would therefore depend on how one objectively assesses BP’s failure to prevent the oil spill as well as its response to the damage it caused.

Assessment of Leadership Response to the Deepwater Horizon crisis
Subsidiary Questions:
a. Could the oil spill have been prevented by better leadership?
b. Do you think the whole crisis was characterised by a failure of leadership?
c. What lessons arise from the management’s handling of the oil spill and its aftermath?

Respondent 1 (R1)
It may be easier to argue, with the benefit of hindsight, that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could have been prevented if certain mistakes were avoided by the management. R1 admits this much and contends that it is certainly plausible to conclude that errors of judgement and lack of decisive action on the part of the management played a part in the crisis:
Well, the facts are already out there in the open following several inquiries and investigations of the matter. It is certainly fair to hold the view that mistakes and errors of omission and commission on the part of our management – at all levels – largely accounted for the oil spill and its consequences……with the benefit of hindsight we can now see how things ought to have been done differently and how this sort of situation can be avoided in the future.

Expectedly, a crisis of this magnitude would hold vital lessons for the managers and employees of BP, and these lessons bother on how to put in place institutional structures and organizational thinking that effectively precludes such a disaster from happening again, as well as the best steps to take to definitively control crisis of any kind immediately it occurs:
The lessons….are many. Among other things, we now know how dangerous it is to be complacent on past successes; one can never be too careful in designing safety regulations, nor can we afford to compromise the integrity of our processes because of cost-saving considerations. There is also the very important lesson of accepting immediate responsibility for failings and shortcomings – rather than apportioning blames to others in a bid to exonerate ourselves from scrutiny. The lessons learnt are not exhaustive, but it is the duty of leadership to always seek ways of improving itself, and that is what I believe is the case with the current BP management.

Respondent 2 (R2)
Admitting one’s failings and taking responsibility for decisions that led to such failings must be regarded as an important element of organizational leadership. Accordingly, R2 regretfully admits that there is indeed a sense in which the crisis associated with the oil spill can be attributed to a failure of leadership – especially given that internal investigations commissioned by the company and external investigations by the US government and other associated stakeholders all reveal considerable human errors of judgement that contributed to the crisis:
It is inevitable for objective observers to note the inadequacies on the part of our management that contributed to the tragedy that the oil spill was. The investigations reveal that the oil spill could have been prevented if certain decisions were not implanted and errors made…to the extent that such ultimately poor decisions and errors were made – contributing in some way to the occurrence of the tragedy that cost several lives and billions in damages, then it has to be said that we could have done much better in the way we responded to the crisis.

Respondent 3 (R3)
In theory the oil spill could have been prevented if BP instituted greater controls to ensure safety; this is the simplest way of looking at the matter. However, R3 contends that it is no use wondering what might have been – considering that tragedies and disasters do happen occasionally despite the best efforts to prevent them. Accordingly, R3 is more interested in the kind of response that management comes up with during times of crisis; in this regard he admits that there might have indeed been poor leadership in the way BP responded to the crisis – especially as regards the shifting of blame and responsibility to contractors and third-party firms, insufficient empathy with those that were worst affected, and a general failure to win the confidence of the public and carry them along:
I think a large part of the leadership shortcoming wasn’t so much the outbreak of the crisis itself, but the reaction and response to it. The most common notion in this regard is that the former CEO – and by extension the management in general – did not accept enough responsibility for the oil spill and did not demonstrate enough empathy with the communities and other stakeholders that were most affected….of course this teaches us the power of the softer skills of leadership as well as carrying the public along during times of disaster of that nature. One now realizes the danger in paying too much attention to technical details and trying to understate the extent of damage during such crisis rather than honestly stating the facts as they are and seeking to win the understanding of the public.

Respondent 4 (R4)
R4 holds the view that although the crisis may have been averted if things were done differently by the management, she nonetheless insists that at the time, there was little evidence to suggest an impending disaster of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This respondent suggests that the oil spill itself was more of a technical failing than that of leadership; she however concedes that the response of BP’s management – personified by Tony Hayward – did play a part in worsening the effect of the damage:
As long as it involves humans and machines, accidents would happen; regardless of safety measures – although I agree that constant revision and improvement of such measures would help reduce the possibility of accidents such as the oil spill. However, I would have to admit that stakeholders and the public in general were not satisfied with our response to the crisis – particularly what seemed like the buck-passing, denials, and perhaps some level of insensitivity even. Given that several people lost their lives and livelihoods to this disaster, coupled with the incalculable damage caused, we should have expected justifiable widespread anger – and we should have handled such anger better. To that extent one might say that there were obvious failings in leadership at that level.

Soft Leadership Skills and Technical Competence during the Crisis
Subsidiary Questions:
a. Was the failure of leadership during the crisis was due to a deficiency of soft skills or technical competence?
b. Which is more important in times of such crisis: soft skills or technical competence?

All four respondents insisted that it was difficult to isolate soft skills and technical skills, considering that they are both important for effective leadership. Indeed, depending on the nature of the crisis or the aspect of it that is most pressing, solutions could lie either in the use of soft skills such as effective communication, empathy, charisma and motivational abilities, or in technical skills pertaining to the particular field. However, R2 suggests that in the context of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster:
Soft leadership skills are critical in diffusing tension and winning the confidence of stakeholders, as we have learned the hard way. Regardless of whose fault it is, you need to make them know that you are sorry; that you empathise with them; that you accept responsibility; and that you are willing to carry them along as you find solutions to the problem at hand. (R2)

R4 also contends that technical skills are quite important for effective leadership – noting that the concerted efforts of several engineers assembled by the company’s management helped stop the spill and contributed to the massive clean-up operation. She however points out that notwithstanding how well the technical aspects of the response were handled, the perception of the stakeholders, government and general public is largely that of dissatisfaction. For R4, this suggests that deficiencies in the soft skills of leadership may have accounted for the largest part of the poor image that BP suffered after the crisis – one form which it is still struggling to recover:
…..Perhaps the leadership was not humane enough….wasn’t in touch with the human element of the tragedy which created several direct and indirect victims. It is clear then that the soft skills were not sufficient in the previous management. The intensely negative public perception of BP after the crisis – a consequence of not communicating empathetically and effectively with the public – suggests that the failings of that leadership in its response to the oil spill was more in terms of the soft skills. (R4)
5. Discussion

Interpretation of Respondents’ Views
Although the respondents described effective leadership in different ways, the basic idea conveyed by their viewpoints is that leadership must be capable of finding solutions to problems in a timely manner, carry people along, inspire subordinates, win the confidence of all and sundry, and accept responsibility in times of crisis or difficulty. Views about the relative effectiveness of BP’s leadership also varied – with some of the respondents (e.g. R2) suggesting that the long term success recorded by the company is indicative of effective leadership over the years; others (e.g. R3) suggest that the internal management of affairs and the creation of a conducive environment within the company for employees to perform optimally are all sufficient to attribute effective leadership to the company’s management team. However, the respondents suggest that in light of the unfortunate circumstances pertaining to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it may be inappropriate to claim that BP’s leadership was effective during the crisis. The views expressed by the respondents in this regard indicate that the mistakes and errors that may have contributed to the oil spill and its aftermath significantly detracts from the effectiveness of the company’s leadership in the estimation of many observers.

The respondents’ assessment of the BP leadership’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill generally suggest that the outcome may have been different if the response had been handled differently – in effect they suggest that the previous management team led by Tony Hayward may not have demonstrated enough responsibility and empathy in the reaction to the crisis. Although it appears the respondents exercised some degree of caution in expressing their opinions in this regard, it may nonetheless be interpreted that they generally admit that there were indeed some defects and shortcomings in the company’s leadership during the crisis, a fact that they suggest must have exacerbated the aftermath of the crisis and its effects on the BP. R3 for instance noted that the management under Tony Hayward “…did not accept enough responsibility for the oil spill and did not demonstrate enough empathy with the communities and other stakeholders that were most affected”. This theme is recurrent in the views expressed by most of the respondents; they generally suggest that, on the basis of public opinion on the company’s response to the disaster, the prevalent notion is that the management declined to accept responsibility and blame for the oil spill, and that is did not show sufficient empathy with those that were worst affected. In terms of the lessons learnt, the respondents indicate that it was now clear to the management how important it is to be honest, responsible and empathetic when responding to a crisis of that nature.

On another level, the respondents also point out the importance of ‘soft’ leadership skills in managing the difficulties associated with a major crisis such as the oil spill. Although the researcher tried to determine the relative importance of soft skills in comparison with technical skills for leadership effectiveness, the respondents generally note the equal importance of both. However, they point out that a leader’s soft skills (such as empathy, communication and motivational abilities) are especially important in times of crisis – especially in view of the human element involved. Indeed, the perceived leadership failure during the Deepwater Horizon crisis was essentially attributed to a deficiency of such soft skills – particularly of empathy and effective communication.
Relating the Empirical Data to Non-empirical Perspectives
There is considerable harmony between the respondents’ opinions and those of independent commentators in the academic literature and in the media. However, the difference is in the understandable caution with which the respondents expressed their views. Several reports have suggested that BP was too slow to acknowledge the problem, underestimated the magnitude of the disaster, and failed to how sufficient empathy with those that suffered the consequences of the oil spill (see for instance Milam, 2010; Kimberly, 2010). A particularly noteworthy and often cited example of the lack of empathy on the part of BP’s leadership was the comment attributed to the CEO Tony Hayward who reportedly made the following comment: “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back” (Eblin, 2010).

There are also many observers who insist that one of the most inappropriate aspect’s of the BP leadership’s response to the oil spill was in initially refusing to accept responsibility for the disaster and shifting blame to others. In this regard it has been reported, for instance, that at a congressional hearing on the oil spill, BP’s CEO Tony Hayward insisted that “I was not part of the decision-making process in this well” (see Chen, 2010). Although Hayward suggested that the fault was largely that of the companies that owned and operated the rig, the method by which he communicated such – essentially absolving BP and his management team of any blame – was interpreted as inappropriate and unbecoming of a leader in such difficult circumstances (Getz, 2010; Bindra, 2010).

Furthermore, there is a clear alignment between these views and the statements of the interview respondents who also agree that BP’s leadership should have taken responsibility for the oil spill rather than apportion blames to others. Also, the views expressed by most observers in academic reviews and media articles about BP’s response to the oil spill crisis basically correspond with the respondents’ suggestion that the failure of leadership during the crisis has more to do with the inadequacy of soft skills rather than a technical incompetence on the part of the leaders. Given that most of the reviewed opinions focused on the lack of ‘emotion’ displayed by Tony Hayward, his avoidance of responsibility and blame, and his perceived insensitivity to the plight of those affected by the disaster, it is clear that the soft skills of communication and empathy were lacking – and this largely accounted for the poor management of the crisis. The opinions of the interview respondents are largely in agreement with these prevalent views.

Broader Implications of BP Leadership’s Actions during the Oil Spill Crisis
There is also a sense in which the empirical data and non-empirical perspectives in the literature can help in understanding some of the broader implications of the leadership response to the oil spill. In view of the identified shortcomings of Tony Hayward and the BP management team during the crisis, there is an extent to their response to the disaster suggests a failure of leadership accountability, responsibility and corporate social responsibility. In terms of accountability, the apparent downplaying of the magnitude and severity of the oil spill – even after it had wreaked disaster and destruction – clearly indicates a violation of the core tenet of accountability. This violation may be contextualized on three fronts: the erstwhile BP management led by Hayward failed to be accountable to the victims of the crisis; the company’s stakeholders, and the general public. Considering the multi-dimensional consequences of the oil spill – which not only caused the loss of lives, but also diminished the livelihoods of the local communities that largely depended on fishing activities, the BP leadership ought to have presented the facts as they were; availing the general public of full information pertaining to the scale and complexity of the disaster. Arguably, such an honest and accountable approach may have made it easier for concerned stakeholders to come to terms with the disaster and pay greater attention to finding worthwhile short-term solutions and palliatives (see for instance Kanter, 2010). However, the fact that BP’s leadership preferred to minimize or understate the extent of the disaster and indeed promised impracticably easy solutions or actions rather than stating the facts as they were therefore arguably represents a violation of the normative tenets of leadership accountability.

Similarly, it is also worthwhile to point out the extent to which the BP management’s actions during the crisis failed to accord with the tenets of leadership responsibility. In this regard responsibility means that one ought to accept culpability where mistakes have been made and pledge remedies to the problem at hand rather than dodging responsibility and apportioning blame. As has been earlier suggested (e.g. Bindra, 2010; Chen, 2010), Tony Hayward demonstrated some irresponsibility by initially absolving BP of any blame for the oil spill – choosing instead to blame the contractors working on behalf of the company (Transocean) at the rig. Clearly, such a disposition would be regarded as inconsistent with accepted standards of leadership responsibility given that it sought to insinuate that any outcry or blames should be directed at Transocean rather than BP. However, apart from the fact that BP failed to ensure the application of high-enough standards to its partners and contractors – which makes the company directly involved in the outcome of any work done, it is inevitable for a responsible company to take end-to-end responsibility for the output it produces as well as for its goods and services. Considering all of this factors in a holistic manner leads to the conclusion that there was arguably a deficit of leadership responsibility in the BP management’s response to the oil spill.

There is also a sense in which BP’s response to the crisis can be evaluated within the context of corporate social responsibility – particularly in terms of the commitment towards contributing to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of employees, local communities and the larger society (Blumberg, 2001). Many observers (see for example Getz, 2010; Eblin, 2010) have suggested that BP’s management did not demonstrate sufficient corporate social responsibility in the way they responded to the difficulties and sufferings of particularly the victims, their families and local communities that were greatly affected by the impact of the oil spill. Most accounts of the oil spill’s aftermath suggest that the palliative measures put in place by BP did not sufficiently assuage the sufferings of the local community around the affected rig especially in terms of the pollution of the water and the attendant depletion of aqua resources and fisheries. Similarly, the plight of the victims’ families was not satisfactorily attended to by the company, given that it seemed more interested in understating the extent of damage as well as avoiding blame for the oil spill. In all of these, the effectiveness of BP’s management decision making with regard to corporate social responsibility is questionable and indicative of serious defect.

6. Conclusions & Recommendations

Substantive Reflection
This study focused on three research questions, viz.:
(1) What are the differences between leadership during normal times and leadership during times of crisis?
(2) What are the essential requirements that promote effective leadership during organizational crisis?
(3) To what extent does effective crisis leadership lessen the impact of the crisis on the organization?

In the course of the research, evidence from both secondary and primary data have provided meaningful insights into these questions and facilitated an understanding of the key issues.

In terms of the first research question, it is clear from the research evidence that leadership during times of crisis is typically more tasking, and therefore requires a greater amount of competencies and skills on the part of a leader who is expected to reduce the pressure on the organization and ensure that the organization gets over the crisis as quickly as possible. Under normal conditions, leaders’ may rely on organizational structures and processes to direct the affairs of the organization and seek ways of coordinating cohesive efforts towards the attainment of shared goals (Van Wart, 2003). During periods of crisis on the other hand, there is often organization-wide confusion and pressure – which may significantly affect the organization’s capacity to make progress towards its vision and goals. It is therefore the crisis leader’s duty to take charge of the situation, manage the turmoil and ensure that normality returns to the organization – in which case he will be regarded as an effective leader (Boin and ’t Hart, 2003). However, if the leader does not successfully dissipate the crisis and ensure a return to normalcy – as was the case with BP CEO Tony Hayward – such leadership may be considered to be a failed one and would often take the blame for the crisis and be made a scapegoat (Schwartz, 2010). Essentially, the lesson that may be learnt in this regard is that the past achievements or leadership credentials of a leader do not count for much if such a leader fails to manage an emergent crisis situation effectively.

In terms of the second research question, there is considerable weight of evidence from the research to suggest that some of the most essential requirements for effective leadership during a crisis include communication skills, taking responsibility, empathy, proactive response, thoroughness, and a demonstrable commitment to problem solving. Evidence from the research tends to suggest that where technical competence is taken for granted, a crisis of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill requires sufficient emotional intelligence on the part of the leader, especially in his willingness to accept responsibility and communicate honestly and empathetically with not only members of the organization and stakeholders, but also with those that directly or indirectly suffered consequences of the crisis.

For the third research question, answers interpreted from the research data evidence indicate that effective crisis leadership can significantly lessen the effect of crisis on the organization’s activities and public image. As the BP case shows, the poor leadership of the company’s CEO in handling the crisis resulted in negative public perception of the company. The public outcry and condemnation the CEO’s response to the crisis only worsened matters for the company and increased pressure on its employees. If the handling of the crisis by BP’s leadership had been adjudged to be effective, it is arguable that the company may have found it easier to recover from the disaster and accelerate rebuilding efforts to restore normalcy.

Suggestions for Effective Leadership during Organizational Crisis
The academic literature is replete with several useful perspectives on crisis management and effective leadership during crisis (e.g. Barton, 2007; Goel, 2009; George, 2011; Mitroff, 1993). However, the specific case of BP and the aftermath of its handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill generate certain insights about how to lead effectively during major organizational crisis.

Indeed, the previously discussed shortcomings in the BP leadership’s response to the oil spill crisis in terms of poor accountability, responsibility and corporate social responsibility arguably have implications for change management and change leadership. On one hand, change management is deemed a critical aspect of effective leadership given that good leaders ought to know how to deal with change (both positive and negative) in a way that does not result in disruptions for the company and its operations. In this regard, the negative aftermath and backlash from the perceived poor leadership response to the oil spill has placed BP in a situation in which change is imperative. The extent to which the new management in place at BP successfully leads the company to recovery may therefore depend on the capacity of the management to exercise effective change leadership. As Kotter (2007) suggests, effective change leadership involves certain key elements including establishing a sense of urgency, forming a powerful guiding coalition, creating a compelling and clear vision, planning for and creating short-term wins, consolidating improvements, and institutionalizing new approaches. Furthermore, Fullan (2001) points out that leading in times of difficult change is especially tasking, and requires an honest, integrative and collaborative approach in which the leader articulates a clear vision of change and carries every member of the organization along in the process of pursuing the stated vision. In the context of BP therefore, the poor leadership demonstrated during the oil spill crisis inevitably imposes a burden of effective change leadership on the incumbent BP management which would have to devise strategies that would re-establish confidence in the organization and improve its public perception. Added to this is the need to implement effective measures that would preclude another disaster of such magnitude in the long term.

It is important for leaders to always be prepared for crisis. Lack of preparation is perhaps what is most responsible for knee-jerk and nervous reactions by leaders, which may worsen an already bad situation. Given the complex nature of business and the business environment, and the fact that human error and naturally occurring events cannot be predicted, leaders need to constantly train themselves to be ready to any negative eventuality. Being prepared makes it likely that the leader would make the right decisions and take the right steps towards addressing and managing the crisis when it does occur.

Secondly, there is great need for leaders to develop their emotional intelligence and social alertness – involving the ability to communicate clearly, calmly and respond empathetically in difficult situations (se George, 2000). Most crises have human dimensions given that there are likely to be human victims, or pressure on human beings – whether they are employees, stakeholders, or local communities. A very important aspect of crisis leadership therefore involves the ability to connect with one’s own emotions and those of others: to make them feel that you understand their plights and emotional states; that you care about them; and that you are committed to finding solutions to the existing problem(s). Developing this ability would greatly increase one’s effectiveness as a leader in crisis situations.

Vision for Future Research
While the present research provides significant insights into some of the main elements involved in leadership during organizational crisis, there is an obvious limitation in scope and dimension as it focuses only on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the leadership lessons arising from the handling of that crisis. This does not provide sufficient indication about whether the lessons from the case study may be applicable in other cases where the perceived failure of leadership during crisis may be attributed more to defects in technical competence and managerial incompetence. Given that evidence from the present study essentially attributes the poor leadership exercise during the BP crisis to non-technical defects, it would be necessary for future research to focus on more cases in order to investigate the extent to which technical and managerial competence is also critical for effective leadership during organizational crisis.
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