Web Analytics

3 Lessons for Leaders from Pres. Obama's School Shooting Crisis Response

Note: We don't do political commentary here. I wrote this post this morning to see if I could channel my anger and sadness about this horrible school shooting into something constructive.


Every leader of people, no matter how small the group, should listen and learn:

President Obama's weekly address this morning focused on the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT. In two minutes, the President:

1. Connected emotionally. His words are personalized as speaks of  his and his wife's feelings and empathizes with the parents of the lost children, and all parents.

2. Calls for action. The President puts the shooting in a larger context and sets the stage for a national discussion. He calls for "meaningful action...regardless of politics."

3. Uses non-verbal body language. Counter to Obama's reputation of coolness, he expresses his grief and connects. His eyes show his sadness, with some tearing. He is somber and subdued.

My message to CEOs and other leaders is always to remind them that people won't remember what you said, nor what you did. They only remember how you made them feel.

In a crisis, people need you more than ever. Be open, present and caring. Nothing else matters.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those effected by this tragedy.




On Friday, we learned that more than two dozen people were killed when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Most of those who died were just young children with their whole lives ahead of them. And every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.

Among the fallen were also teachers – men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today. We grieve for the families of those we lost. And we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived.  Because as blessed as they are to have their children home, they know that their child’s innocence has been torn away far too early.

As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years. An elementary school in Newtown. A shopping mall in Oregon. A house of worship in Wisconsin. A movie theater in Colorado. Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

Any of these neighborhoods could be our own. So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics.

This weekend, Michelle and I are doing what I know every parent is doing – holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them.

There are families in Connecticut who can’t do that today. And they need all of us now. Because while nothing can take the place of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need – to remind them that we are there for them; that we are praying for them; and that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their own memories, but also in their community, and their country.

Thank you.

I love listening to

audio books 


I've written hundreds of articles on this site. My secret weapon for learning is listening to books while I'm driving, walking or working out.

By clicking the green button below you'll get a 30-day free trial of Audible to kickstart your own learning.

Happy listening!

John Millen

* We may earn a commission from links on our site. We only offer products and services we know and trust.

Make Better Decisions with Charlie Munger's Mental Models

Dec 02, 2023

How to Avoid Awkward Holiday Conversations

Nov 25, 2023

Lincoln's Lesson for Leaders: Less is More

Nov 21, 2023