Man with sick child in hospital waiting room, Mozambique. Photo: Eric Miller/ World Bank via Flickr
Proactively identifying and solving problems. Those are leadership traits.
But they're not always useful.
Often the skill is simply to be there.
Being there does not mean imposing yourself on the situation, on the problem -- shoving your agenda around.
It does mean physical, emotional and spiritual presence. Sitting with the people. Holding somebody's hand. Showing that you care.
Leadership often means empathy and not action words. Action-oriented people have difficulty understanding this. "What should I say? There are no new developments."
Especially in times when there is chaos and fear, the calming support of a leader is not just helpful. It is required in order for the organization to continue running.
People may not show it but they are frequently wracked with physical and emotional pain -- anxiety, apprehension, fear. Not to mention anger: "It's not fair."
A great leader does not play into negative emotions. Rather the leader calms them. "It's OK. We will pull through together."
You can be a leader at every level. In times of trouble what is required is to put yourself away for awhile. And let forth a healing energy.
It is possible to solve a problem without any problem-fixing words.
A great leader knows when to not say them.