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September 01, 2010


Gayle Ely

Scott-This quote from the NY Times article regarding Mr. Urzua really struck me.

"When health officials asked him to narrate a 40-minute video of the miners’ life underground, he turned the task over to a younger man, Mario Sepúlveda, 39, who praised Mr. Urzúa in the video for bringing “calm” to his compatriots."

The participants in our organization's Leadership Development Program had just yesterday been discussing the importance of "leadership presence". It is important for leaders to recognize that their responses to issues and circumstances set the tone for those they lead. Mr. Urzua brought "calm" to his compatriots. Had Mr. Urzua panicked under the circumstances, the tone would have been very different.

Steve Barry

Nice post, and insightful comment Gayle. That's the second or third time I've heard the phrase "set the tone" in the past week. Tone-setting must be entering our collective consciousness as key to establishing a normalcy in face of turbulence.

Scott Eblin

Thanks for the thoughtful comments Gayle and Steve. The other thing that struck me about the aspect of the story that you cited Gayle was that Urzua turned over the microphone. Servant leadership in action.

Jennifer Tucker

Beautiful post, Scott, and great synthesis into key transferable insights. Let's keep these men in the spotlight even after initial press interest has waned - true leadership is sustained over the long haul, and 2-4 months is a long long time. They are in our prayers.

Scott Eblin

So true on the long haul Jenny and most definitely on the prayers.


Excellent points and lessons.

Am I missing something though, I wanted to share this via Twitter and I could not find a "share" button any where on the blog. It just makes it so much easier for others to share your great work. More people need to read your message.

Thanks...Edie Galley

Scott Eblin

Hi Edie. Many thanks. If you'll click on the share this button at the bottom of the post, you can select Twitter as one of the options for sharing. Appreciate it!

Jim Jackson

Great, great examples of leadership. Always wonder what one would do in that same situation. Trust in the Lord.

Jim Mathis

Great comments. I particularly like the point on shared roles. Too many leaders are afraid of sharing power, and pay when trust isn't shared as well.


The mental and spiritual component of providing leadership is pivotal. I would hope that this instance could serve as an inspiration to trend including it at all levels of leadership. It is interesting to note that these circumstances are forced - what are the implications for generalizing the same concepts in a regularly functioning situation when so much free will is involved?

Sergio Zaragoza

Great insight on a deep leadership story, in all senses.

Pablo Gacitua

It´s amazing how far has this story has gone. Here in Chile we are very proud of our miners. The way how they organized themselves to stay alive for 17 days -yes, 17 days in the dark with no food- before contact from the surface was made, is amazing. The leadership, self-control, encouragement, but also faith and trust that "someone" will find them was never lost. Finally contact was made, and as we say in our country... Viva Chile!

Engr. Awodeji J.T.

The day we learn to adopt the miners' approach in resolving our issues as a nation (NIGERIA ) is the day we are set to get out of our overwhelming national problems. Come to NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF MINING AND GEOSCEINCES (NIMG),JOS. Leadership Skills in practise here!


This is great illustration of leadership from those who may not have felt that they were a leader. The story is heart touching about what a difference small acts make everyday and in this case difference in a life or death situation. It is actions that establish leadership and influence more than position. Thanks for the article


Great blog post. Love the phrase "turned over the microphone". A great leader once said to me "there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don' care who gets the credit.

Scott Eblin

Thanks one and all for your thoughtful and heartfelt comments. Your points about small acts, integrated approaches to leadership and the human spirit on all well taken. In addition to Pablo's comment, I've received a few e-mails from Chileans who are so justifiably proud of their miners. As Pablo said, Viva Chile!

Damian Gerke

Great article. Great to see leaders who are secure enough in themselves to share the leadership and get the job done. Very courageous; and a potent, relevant example.

The dynamic of shared leadership is such a vital — and rare — experience in most of our social structures today. I wish more organizations would structure themselves to allow for it; and reward it.


It is a chilling analogy to see the miners as humanity under the burdening constraints of environmental degradation. It is inspiring to see that, despite complete darkness and a very thin thread of hope, their faith in a better future prevailed and became a vision and incentive for sensible organization. In more ways than one, they have probably lived enriching events that they would have not experienced otherwise. It is one of the blessings of intentionally moving out of our comfort zones, the discovery of such connecting power. Here we are, talking about them, 800 meters below the ground and the world around.

leadership development

Great post. Knowing who you are, what you can do and where you are going, is very important in a situation like this. This is the best example of bringing together individuals of different styles and competencies to work together towards a common goal.

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