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How ‘ordinary’ people became heroes during the bushfires ND
Fiona Smith and the Ethics Alliance, Ethics, March 2, 2020



The Australian bushfires which lasted for several months over the 2019-20 summer were an unforgettable reminder about what leadership in a crisis looks like, with “ordinary” people becoming the unforeseen heroes. Leadership can include “ordinary” people as many jumped into action, into their cars and boats as a means to protect their families and escape the ravaging bushfire that was quickly approaching them. These informal leaders took the initiative when the authorities were absent. NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance described the situation: ““There were community relief centres that were set up immediately after that fire event, without the involvement of government. That was what was heartening.” The Centre’s Executive Director, Wayne Burns lost his house at Lake Conjola to the fires and he reflected on the difference between authority and leadership during the crisis in his op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald: “Leadership is an art exercised and practised deliberately. It is about influencing, encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes pushing and cajoling without being asked,” he writes. In speaking to The Ethics Centre, Burns says the government and emergency services were unable to step beyond their authority which created a power “vacuum”. Ordinary citizens put themselves into positions of informal leadership, “there is no personality type, there are no natural-born leaders – they don’t exist – people just decide to act,” Burns explained.

For the full story go to The Ethics Centre