I live in Renton, Washington, a community just east of Seattle. This morning, as I turned on the news I saw a stunning example of exceptional leadership by our local news station KOMO 4 – an ABC affiliate.
A news helicopter carrying a pilot and camera man had crashed very near the Space Needle, a downtown Seattle landmark. Both men in the helicopter died. In serious condition was a man in a car that the helicopter landed on.
This helicopter was not owned by KOMO 4 News, but was contracted for use by the television network. The men on the helicopter were not KOMO employees, but were well known by everyone at the television station. The two men had personal relationships with most everyone in the news organization, and had been part of the KOMO family for years.
The accident happened at 7:40 am, just as the helicopter and crew had left the roof of the television station across from the Space Needle. Employees of KOMO 4 News heard the crash. They looked out their windows and saw the crash. Every reporters dream is to be first on the scene. KOMO reporters were not only first on the scene, they were the scene.
That segues into my purpose for writing this post.
I have been writing in this blog, and in my book about the four characteristics of exceptional leadership that I’ve identified in my leadership experience. The reporters and the anchor men and women of KOMO 4 News have been amazing examples of the first of those four characteristics.
Those words are the first elements of achieving exceptional leadership. They are an acronym: S.E.L.F. Exceptional leadership starts with self.
Besides wanting to be the first on the scene, any news organization faces tremendous competition to be the first to report the details of an accident or incident. Being the one to “break” the story or the details is all-consuming for reporters and news crews.
That is why it was so moving for me to watch KOMO 4 News anchor Dan Lewis and others report on this story, knowing full well who had died in the crash.
Dan and other anchors, with tears in their eyes reported for three hours about “the two men who died” in the crash. They did not provide the names of these men. My understanding (although not confirmed information) is that Dan Lewis was at the airport when the accident happened. He was boarding a plane to go interview President Obama – a sure feather in the cap of any news anchor.
Dan Lewis sacrificed the interview of his life to return to the news station and report on the death of “his KOMO 4 family members”, as he stated more than once. Can you imagine not only losing a close friend or family member, but having to go on television and talk about it without identifying the individual(s)? Sacrifice indeed.
I give enormous credit to KOMO 4 News, Dan Lewis, Molly Shen, Eric Johnson, and even Brad Goode and Liz Dueweke (who were on air when the accident took place). You are all exceptional leaders who have mastered the characteristic of sacrifice. Thanks for coming into my living room and so eloquently and professionally reporting a personal tragedy when your hearts were breaking.
For up to the minute details of the helicopter crash please click here: KOMO 4 News