Extreme Leadership
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Extreme Leadership

Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm

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.
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Chapter 17: The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings

Amy E. Hurley-Hanson and Cristina M. Giannantonio


Unfortunately, extreme situations occur in places we can only hope they would not. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred on 14 December 2012 was an extreme situation. In less than five minutes, a person walked into a school and killed 20 children and six adults. The student victims were eight boys and 12 girls, between six and seven years of age (Reuters, 2012a). The events that occurred that day were well outside the norm of daily activities for the principals, teachers and aides that worked at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT. We include this tragic event because it illustrates the wide spectrum of extreme situations where inspirational and authentic leadership may emerge. By analyzing the selfless behaviors displayed in this extreme situation, leadership lessons may be learned from those who were thrust into an extreme situation and ran towards it to do what they could to save lives.THE EVENTS OF DECEMBER 14It was approximately five minutes from when the shooter entered the building until he shot himself. It was 40 minutes from when the shooting began until the survivors were led out of the building. To those living this nightmare it seemed like an eternity. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT illustrate the leadership behaviors of ordinary citizens who found themselves in an extreme situation. The administrators and teachers who lost their lives trying to stop the shooter and protect the children will be remembered as heroes. Each of these individuals were leaders in this extreme situation.

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