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The ancient Greeks believed that true leadership in crisis came down to what they called pronoia — the Greek word for “strategic foresight.”
Some statesmen, such as Pericles and Themistocles, had it. Most others, such as the often brilliant and charismatic but impulsive Alcibiades, usually did not.
“Foresight” in crisis means sizing up a nation’s assets and debt, then maximizing advantages and minimizing liabilities. The leader with foresight, especially in times of irrational despair, then charts a rational pathway victory.
Such crisis leaders do not fall into panic and depression when the media shouts “Catastrophe!” Nor do they preen when the same chorus screams “Genius!” in times of success.
The English poet Rudyard Kipling would have defined such a gift as, “If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” or, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same.”
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