Disaster management and the need for a relational leadership framework founded upon compassion, care, and justice

Mark Crosweller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasing recognition of the human capacity to alter the underlying dynamics of the planet's basic life support system for themselves and all other forms of life. Resulting impacts include large scale loss, damage and harm and significant negative impacts on human and non-human species. Managing and minimizing these resulting impacts rests in part with disaster management leaders who have responsibility for providing protection, improving wellbeing, and minimizing vulnerability to natural hazards influenced by climate change. The difficulty for effective leadership resides in attempting to manage and minimize these impacts whilst potentially being influenced by sociocultural factors such as anthropocentrism and neoliberalism that shape worldviews. Here, a comparative analysis of 89 influential disaster management leaders in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America is conducted. The extent to which these leaders are influenced by a worldview labelled ‘invulnerable’, and/or by an alternative worldview informed by three ethical perspectives labelled ‘relational’, is examined. The extent that these two worldviews influence leaders when providing advice and protecting others is also examined. The results indicate a propensity towards a relational leadership worldview that is undermined by an invulnerable leadership worldview dominated by insensitivity to the suffering of others. How a relational leadership framework can actively contest this insensitivity is then discussed. The article concludes by advocating for a relational leadership framework that encourages leaders to think, speak, and act relatably with commitment, venturousness, and accountability, concomitant with an ethic of compassion, care, and justice, to reduce suffering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100404
Number of pages20
JournalClimate Risk Management
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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