9. Leadership Lessons Learned During an Unexpected Crisis - the Outbreak of Civil War in South Sudan
Everyone has one or more moments in their life they will never forget where they were or what they were doing when an unexpected event took place. For me it was a typical hot sticky evening in South Sudan, with a broken generator in the hundred degree heat. I remember getting up in the night to douse my hair with water to cool down enough to get to sleep, and lying back down hearing fireworks (or maybe gun shots?) through my open window. The next morning we discovered indeed those gun shots overnight signified the government splitting in two and the country tumbled into a Civil War. As things escalated and we sought how to adjust to this new reality, it was an emotional time period and one which was especially stressful for our national staff, most of whom fled with only their families to hide from the onslaught that followed.
Looking back on this time period, I am curious how I would have handled managing a country program of over 400 staff during this time, and how to keep everyone united despite all the chaos. In order to explore what she experienced and what she was thinking during this time, I asked Lorraine Bramwell, the Country Representative at the time, to share her lessons learned. In the interview Lorraine is very honest about her thoughts and feelings, as well as what she learned which made an impact and that which maybe could have been done differently. It is always easy to reflect back and think what we could have done or would have if we were in the leadership position, but in a situation like this you will really not know unless you are in the middle of it. That said, it is to our advantage as leaders to learn from others who have been in difficult situations that we may never experience but heaven forbid if we should, we at least have some ideas on how to handle them.