Crisis Leadership in Barbados During the Initial Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Vanessa L. Deane, Jason Ramel
Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Grant Report Series, 345. Boulder, CO: Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado Boulder.

This study brings a small-island perspective to the broader discussion of disaster leadership by examining the crisis leadership attributes of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, and her Acting Prime Minister, Santia Bradshaw, during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. We reviewed frameworks of crisis leadership in the literature on emergency management and used this review to assess the Prime Ministers’ press briefings and speeches from March through May 2020. Our content analysis showed that sensemaking, meaning making, and orchestrating vertical and horizontal coordination were the three most prevalent crisis leadership attributes displayed by the two leaders during the first two months of the pandemic. The paper concludes with a brief reflection on the implications of these findings for global leaders beyond this pandemic, in the face of threats pertaining to climate-related disasters and disruptions that are disproportionately impacting the Caribbean region.

Wagner Faculty