How Chilean Leaders Managed With The accident At San Jose’s Mine | Q&A

Question 1. What risks did President Piñera face in launching a rescue despite the low chances of success?

President Piñera ordered to launch a rescue and approved significant expenditures associated with the rescue. The rescue took 69 days, and the chances of success were declining, so the President risked spending the resources in vain. Moreover, search process was also risky for those who performed the rescue, and if something happened to the rescuers, President Piñera’s position would be seriously affected. In addition, President Piñera had to acknowledge the issue at the international level; such public exposure was risky for his career and for the country’s reputation. However, balanced approach and commitment mitigated these risks and contributed to the rescue’s success.

Question 2. How did the miners demonstrate transformational leadership? Servant leadership? Authentic leadership?

The miners were driven by duty and by the respect to the lives of other miners; so, they were guided by ethical principles and values, and therefore demonstrated transformational leadership. Moreover, they put the needs of others before own needs (e.g. they cared about the weakest miners, shared food and supported others). The miners were honest to each other and demonstrated high integrity, therefore acting as authentic leaders.

Question 3. How did the Chilean president, mining minister, and drilling supervisor act as transformational leaders? As servant leaders? As authentic leaders?

All three key persons involved – the Chilean president, the drilling supervisor and the mining minister – acted as transformational leaders as they followed their moral commitments, continued the search even when the chances of success were very low, managed to mobilize a lot of followers and motivated them to complete the rescue successfully. Moreover, these three persons also demonstrated the qualities of servant leaders – they put the needs of their followers (miners) first, treated their followers as equal partners, and took their obligations seriously, continuing the work even when it seemed almost senseless. Furthermore, these three leaders openly spoke about the issue, admitted that the chances of success were low, but still demonstrated and shared their ethical approach; these qualities are the qualities of authentic leaders.

Question 4. Compare how Chilean leaders managed this crisis to how leaders in the United States responded to Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spirit. What are the key differences between the management of the Chilean mining disaster and the less successful responses to these earlier disasters?

The situations with Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spirit are different from the Chilean case, as the former two cases lacked proper leadership. The response to Hurricane Katrina was very delayed and the emergency evacuation was not performed in time. Although the resources for evacuation and for resolving the problem were available, the Mayor and the administration failed to implement the plan of evacuation and many people died because of that. In the case of the BP oil spill, BP failed to take the responsibility for the accident. The attempts to reduce the damage and to protect the shoreline were weak and poorly coordinated, and the damage to the people and to the environment was massive. The key difference between these two cases and the Chilean case is presence of authentic and transformational leaders in the latter situation. The leaders were guided by ethical values and acted quickly, yet efficiently. They were not scared to ask for help, and personally accepted the responsibility for the disaster.

Question 5. How can Chilean leaders build on the goodwill generated by the rescue to create a more just society?

Chilean leaders might be able to use the support and appreciation of the working class generated by the rescue in order to make their society more just. In particular, they might be able to suggest laws reducing income inequality and providing support to the poorest groups of population; using the goodwill, they would be able to support this law even if the wealthy part of the population opposed it. In addition, Chilean leaders might be able to change the taxation and introduce higher taxes for higher earnings, using the additional funds to support poor families and to improve educational and healthcare opportunities for low-income households.

Question 6. What did you learn from this case that you can apply as a manager or supervisor?

There are two key things I learned from this case that might be applied in a managerial or supervisory role. Firstly, I learned the importance of acting on the basis of ethical values and sharing these ethical values. Indeed,. President Piñera said “We made a commitment to  look  for the  miners as if they were our sons” and managed to engage and motivate his followers in this way. Secondly, I learned that it was very important to ask for help and consultation at all levels when needed; in the considered case, Chilean rescuers even consulted NASA how to keep the miners healthy.

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