Business continuity management might be defined as “doing things right” in business continuity. Leadership on the other hand is doing the right things. In a world where businesses and threats to businesses change rapidly, management in a general sense isn’t sufficient. Unless someone carries the torch of leadership, any organisation is ultimately doomed because it won’t adapt. And as they say, adapt or die. Leadership in business continuity is no exception. In fact, for several reasons, it’s even more important. Business continuity frequently faces two challenges. On the one hand, it is of vital importance to an organisation. By definition, business discontinuity means the organisation stops functioning as it should. If the business discontinuity lasts long enough, the organisation will stop working for good. On the other hand, it’s still difficult for many people responsible for business continuity in their organisation to get the high-level attention that BC should have.
Strong leadership in business continuity is required to address both aspects. A business continuity leader needs the vision and independence to be able to identify what needs to be done to keep BC plans effective and also cost effective for an organisation. But that person also needs to have the leadership strength to elevate BC awareness to director and board level, and to avoid the trap of simply doing whatever he or she is told to do.
Like leadership in general, leadership in business continuity can be a lonely business. On the bright side however, there is a wide range of leadership principles, tools and methods that can be applied. Even if the importance of leadership is that much more pronounced in business continuity for the reasons mentioned, it’s still leadership. Whether you get the best results by applying directive leadership (for example, in an emergency or a disaster situation) or participative leadership (possibly in non-emergency, planning contexts) will depend on the circumstances, the people you’re working with and the culture of the organisation, just as in any other leadership situation.