High Performance Leadership Lessons from Power Grid Failure During Texas Winter Storm

High performance leaders are skilled in the area of balance. Strong leaders balance risk with caution. Their team is carefully selected to have a variety of knowledge, experience and opinions in order to make the best decisions possible. Together, they create visions for the future of their organization by learning from history as well as current trends. A highly skilled leader examines the past, present and future so that they hopefully escape unfathomable failures on their way to glorious success.

Such was not the case with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), when it came to the Texas winter storm during the week of February 14, 2021. Important leadership lessons can be learned from how they approached – and didn’t approach – their responsibilities.

Here are questions that high performing leaders should demand be asked, researched, reported on and acted upon on an on-going basis.

The Past

What actions has this organization taken that had a positive effect on its employees, shareholders, customers, clients, stakeholders, community, etc.?

           How was the decision made to take these actions?

           How was it done?

           What was the ROI?

What actions have other entities in our industry taken that had a positive effect on their employees, shareholders, customers, clients, stakeholders, community, etc.?

           How was the decision made to take these actions?

           How was it done?

           What was the ROI?

Bonus: Move beyond our industry and study organizations in completely different fields.

What actions has this organization taken that had a negative effect on its employees, shareholders, customers, clients, stakeholders, community, etc.?

           How was the decision made to take these actions?

           How was it done?

           Could it have been prevented?

           If so, how?

           What was the fallout/impact?

What actions have other entities in our industry taken that had a negative effect on their employees, shareholders, customers, clients, stakeholders, community, etc.?

           How was the decision made to take these actions?

           How was it done?

           Could it have been prevented?

           If so, how?

           What was the fallout/impact?

Bonus: Move beyond our industry and study organizations in completely different fields.

The Present

What successful processes, procedures and initiatives do we currently have in place?

           What resources, conditions, steps are a part of the success?

           Are there any improvements that can be made to achieve even more success?

           What factors should be considered in deciding on those improvements?

           What measurable indicator(s) will determine that we move forward on making

           those changes?

Without committing corporate espionage, ask the same questions about other entities both in and outside of our industry.

What are current trends in our industry?

           Are we in line with them?

           Why or why not?

           Is this positive or negative? How/why?

           What are the pros/cons to redirecting, modifying or staying the course?

The Future

What is our vision/mission?

           On what is this based?

           What resources, conditions, steps must be in place to make this happen?

           How feasible is the above based on our current status?

           What are possible negative ramifications or outcomes?

           How can they be avoided?

           What is the ROI?

What are all possible contingencies for which we should be prepared?

           Types/Events

                      Global

                      Domestic/Local

                      Onsite

                      Financial/Economic

                      Natural Disasters

                      Cyber Attacks

                      Threats

                      Pandemics

What are the possible negative impacts/outcomes?

What are preventive measures we can take?

What emergency preparedness measures can we take?

What are the risks/costs involved if we take/don’t take these measures?

If these can’t be addressed all at once, what is the order of priority?

Actions

Based on all of the above information, what initiatives/processes/procedures will continue?

           Who will be responsible?

           Who will do what by when?

What initiatives will be started?

           Who will be responsible?

           Who will do what by when?

What initiatives will be terminated?

           Who will be responsible?

           Who will do what by when?

That’s a huge amount of information to gather and consider, which is why the best leaders don’t do this alone. A high performing leader surrounds her/himself with people who probe, investigate, futurecast, take action and are accountable. There is a system in place for archiving what’s been learned so that anyone at anytime has access to that institutional research and history. There is a project management map that is monitored by a designated manager to be sure that ideas become actions. There are debriefings in order to learn from every situation.

During the Texas winter storms, power was intentionally cut or lost throughout the entire state. The power outages caused a loss of heat and water, which led to hypothermia, illness and burst pipes for tens of thousands. It also led to businesses and services having to shut down – no medical service, dialysis, chemotherapy, oxygen, ventilators, refrigerated medications. There were dozens of deaths immediately reported, and we’re only just uncovering the widespread effects of the power grid failure.

At the time I’m writing this, we’re only one week into the investigation of the abysmal and preventable failure of the Texas power grid. Information trickles out daily about resignations of ERCOT board members and finger-pointing in various directions. Even if the Public Utility Commission (PUC) oversees ERCOT and is technically also responsible, if ERCOT had even mediocre leadership, someone should have reached out to the PUC years ago to say, “This can happen, and we need your permission to take action to prevent it.”

Next week, I’ll share additional personal lessons learned about emergency preparedness. While you’re waiting, here’s my blog from last week with Part 1 about emergency preparedness.

 

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead? The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits. Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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