Table of Contents

Extreme Leadership

Extreme Leadership

Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Cristina M. Giannantonio and Amy E. Hurley-Hanson

Much has been written about how leaders and teams function in traditional business settings, but there is comparatively scant literature on the behaviors of leaders and teams facing extreme situations: that is, situations that fall outside the scope of daily experience. This book presents cases drawn from a diverse set of non-traditional and extreme leadership scenarios, offering a fresh perspective on both leadership research and management practice.

Chapter 15: Lost in a fog? Power comes from values

Andrea Hornett, Peggy Daniels Lee and James G. Perkins

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


Leaders need and use power. In extreme crises, leaders can feel powerless. This case is an example of power in leadership during an extreme crisis, when the leader is ‘flying blind’.One summer day, Andi and Jim met for lunch but it wasn’t casual or usual. Jim’s US-based company was in crisis: ‘The coil market has gone crazy. Tyco’s Mallinckrodt Division (TMD) has closed their plant in Mexico and stopped shipping product. We’re going nuts trying to serve our existing customers and meet the new demand from their customers. We’ve got the plant on double shift and we’re shipping twice the volume we had two months ago. What’s going to happen next? A few weeks ago, TMD came to us and asked us to produce product for them. Should we do it?’Jim was in trouble and Andi was alarmed. What should Jim do?An extreme situation is defined as one that falls outside the norm; that is, the situation falls outside the scope of daily experience (Hurley-Hanson and Giannantonio, 2012). When TMD, with 65 percent share of the US market, announced that it would not be shipping any computed tomography (CT) lines,1 the situation was extreme. For Custom Medical Specialties, Inc. (CMS), with less than 5 percent US market share, this was not merely a disruption, it was a veritable tsunami.Jim was flummoxed and trying not to panic. He told Andi that he felt like he was ‘flying in fog without instrumentation’.

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