Fallston Group

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Abandoning Ship; Many Leaders Have During Critical Times

The wife of Captain Francesco Schettino is now weighing-in after her husband has been accused of abandoning the Costa Concordia cruise liner off the Tuscan island. Captain Schettino’s wife claims that her husband is not the “monster” he is being made out to be and that he is nothing more than a scapegoat. “My husband is at the center of an unprecedented global media storm,” Fabiola Russo, Schettino’s wife, said in an interview released by Oggi, an Italian magazine. “I cannot think of any other naval or air tragedy in which the responsible party was treated with such violence. This is a manhunt, people are looking for a scapegoat, a monster. It’s shameful,” says Russo in the article.

According to various global news sources, the Costa Concordia capsized on January 13, 2012 when it hit rocks near Italy’s Tuscan coast. Of the 4200 passengers on board, 16 were found dead so far, 17 are still missing. In addition to the loss of life, massive fuel leakage and ship debris continue to threaten the area’s wildlife, waterways and coastline. While Captain Schettino claims to have tripped into a lifeboat during the accident, many doubt the story he told – the investigation continues.

Interestingly, “tripping into a lifeboat” is somewhat of a symbolic phrase as there are many who manage to save themselves, but not others, during times of crisis. The hallmarks of resilient leadership, as presented by Dr. George Everly in his book The Secrets of Resilient Leadership, include, in part:

  • Operating with integrity
  • Communicating effectively
  • Engaging in decisive, optimistic leadership
  • Taking responsibility

As we now collectively look-out over the bow, we see none of the above. Our hope is that leaders will learn from the Captain’s reported action and work to save those that depend on them in the future, whether they must be rescued from a sinking ship or partnership. To learn more about how to handle crisis-oriented issues, contact the Fallston Group, a crisis communications company.

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