Leadership Encouragement “Keep Your Cool”

Keep Your Cool

It was May 10, 2005. The 43rd President of the United States was in the capital city of Tbilisi, Georgia, a country formerly under Russian rule. The man stalking the president was a Georgian national named Vladimir Arutyunian. The assassin didn’t have a knife or a gun. However, in his possession was an RGD-5 hand grenade.

As George W. Bush and his entourage made their way from one engagement to the next, Arutyunian waited for his opportunity. It finally came. In the open air, Arutyunian threw his grenade in such a way that it would be positioned directly over the president’s head…but the grenade continued on a path Vladimir did not expect.

The grenade had malfunctioned.

As it fell back to earth, it struck a young girl before coming to rest just 61 feet from the president.

Had it detonated, the president would have surely been killed.

Vice President Dick Cheney said this about the assassination attempt:

“I remember the incident. I don’t remember where I was. I don’t recall any sense of crisis, or gee that was a close call…the president moved on and we had all moved on.”

What’s the leadership lesson? There are actually two in this story.

First, know the risks. Bush knew that as president he would be a target. Before even considering running for office, he had to settle in his mind that he could be killed.

As a leader, you must know the risks of leadership. You will encounter downturns. People will create grief. You will have to fire people. You’ll make bad hires. There will be missed income targets. Therefore, be comfortable with the risks before you step into a leadership role.

Second, keep your cool. Your team will take their cues from you. Bush didn’t react in fear. He kept his schedule and allowed his security detail to do their jobs. To that point, remember to keep your wits about you as well. Showing fear and having a breakdown along the way does not evoke confidence among the team. Never forget that you set the tone for your organization.

Any storm an organization faces could become a hurricane. Your stomach may be in knots, but you can’t let it show. As the leader, you must stand on deck and put your team in their appropriate places. Help them believe, so they can successfully navigate the hurricane.

  • Don’t flinch.
  • Stay cool.
  • Know the risks…and embrace them.

Be the example for your team.


Brian Sanders serves as Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio. He regularly writes and speaks on leadership topics. His new book, “Leadership Endurance,” can be purchased HERE.

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