Are Leaders Responsible for Minimizing Risks?

Recently, someone in my writers’ circle asked me why I am always thinking about risk? He said that I seem to focus on the risk inherent in most activities. My answer was that my studies and career had increased my risk awareness and thus, I have become a de facto risk manager.

That conversation made me think about the impact of our daily dose of negative news in the US. Beyond the crime reports, are the breaking news stories such as: “First Ebola Patient in the US!”FAA Center Arson Fire Caused by Disgruntled Former Contract Employee!”Major Data Breach at JP Morgan Chase!”riskmanagement

One result is that more of my family, friends and colleagues are shying away from watching TV or online news. For some, it has become too frightening or depressing for them to watch the news. Others have become complacent and suffer from news overload.

So where is the balance between being informed and being in the dark? If we are to remain vigilant, at least about some of the risks that we face, is it wise to avoid the news altogether?


We encounter risks every day. The important question is whether we can minimize the risks that impact our daily lives, including risks to our health, safety, wealth and identity?


Ebola has now moved from West Africa to the US. It is suggested that the first Ebola patient entered the US via inaccurate information, screening and care both outside and inside the US.

Both the infected individual and the transportation safety agency failed to contain the situation in Liberia. When they both fail, they put the health of the community at large at risk.

When dealing with a life-threatening risk, how much can we rely on leaders and other people to try to prevent or decrease the risk?

With Ebola, preventative measures need to be taken quickly and require accurate information. Even here in the US, we are not prepared for the rapid response required to limit the contact and exposure to Ebola. Will the rigorous exit-screening process give be sufficient to contain the disease in Africa? Will we begin to halt flights from those nations if more Ebola patients from those places arrive in the US?


Workplace safety is becoming a greater concern in the US as former employees seek revenge against former colleagues. The recent arson fire on the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control center in Aurora, IL impacted the entire air transportation industry and its air passengers.

One disgruntled contract employee who set fire to equipment and cut cables created a ripple effect that shut down Chicago’s airports and resulted in business interruption of historic proportions.

Latest reports indicated that the radar facility is expected to be back on track three or four weeks after the attack.


Without a financial loss, many people are not concerned about cyber-attacks, lost data or stolen credit cards.

New York State Department of Financial Services Chief, Benjamin Lawsky, has said that the prospect of an Armageddon-type cyber event is one of the most significant issues he plans to address next year.

Lawsky has mentioned his concern for a failure of imagination to prevent harm to our financial system.

Are we willing to take that gamble with our individual wealth or the wealth of the nation?

Data breaches that steal our personally identifiable information (PII) are becoming commonplace. When our PII is stolen, we wait to hear what the result will be. Sometimes it is not clear what the cyber-attackers are going to do with our data. Other times, we begin to see that our credit cards are being used fraudulently.

Unfortunately, the latter is the case with the Home Depot Data Breach, now the largest retail card breach on record. Despite 56 million credit and debit card numbers being stolen via malware, Home Depot’s stock price is up more than two percent since the breach. Home Depot says it expects its sales growth this year to be unaffected by the cyber-attack.

Is data-breach fatigue making consumers complacent about cybercrime?


Identity theft may be important to the general public but it is very serious for the victims who spend months, if not years, trying to repair the damage and restore accurate data.

The recent JP Morgan Chase data breach compromised the PII of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. Yet, the company’s stock price has hardly budged.

Leadership Responsibility

As a leader, do you have a duty to minimize risks?

First and foremost, we lead ourselves every day. Then, we lead others. Our roles, actions and inaction have consequences. Whether you are leading yourself or others, if you fail to take necessary precautions, you may put yourself, and others, at risk.

Standard of Care

Standard of care refers to the standard that a person is held to in order to act as a reasonable or prudent person under the circumstances. Someone who falls short of the standard of care can be held liable for damages suffered by another person who is suing for damages.

Does anyone have a duty to protect us from risks? Can we go so far as to say that leaders must meet a higher standard of care than the average person? Not likely.

Era of Vigilance

Each one of us must take responsibility to remain vigilant, beyond what our leaders are able to control. Together we have the opportunity to minimize risks and prevent harm.

Despite being bombarded with frequent news reports on another data breach or workplace shooting, we still have the opportunity to be proactive and influence positive outcomes.


As a society, we are experiencing an increase in risks to our health, safety, wealth and identity. Do we take these risks seriously or do we simply shrug them off?

Is it time to redefine our roles as leaders in minimizing risks?

Dawn Kristy

Dawn Kristy

Dawn Kristy has a writer’s love of words and storytelling, an editor’s keen eye for details, a risk manager’s proactive caution and an advocate’s desire to help those in need whether in the for-profit or non-profit community. Dawn is an attorney licensed to practice law in NJ and PA with over 25 years work experience in law, insurance, reinsurance, business development, writing, editing, presenting, sales, fundraising and campaigning. Dawn had the good fortune of working abroad for nearly 13 years gaining first-hand experience in cross-cultural client relationship management, business development, marketing and communications. Dawn has successfully led projects with determination and compassion, developed new business and raised funds for non-profit organizations. Disclaimer: This blog post is made available for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional or legal advice. No attorney client relationship is formed or implied between you and the guest blog author or the blog/web site publisher.
Dawn Kristy
Dawn Kristy



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