Dumb Leaders Through History – George Bush and Hurricane Katrina

When a nation suffers a natural disaster, the people look to their leaders to stand strong. They look to their leaders to set direction, to administer the efforts to rebuild and help the affected. This is a story on a dumb leader president and how he was detroned by a hurricane.

George Bush, damaged his presidency and never recovered from his lacklustre response from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was devastating to the city of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Bush was on holiday in Texas at the time and stayed on holiday with no public response for a number of days.  While the American public saw the devastation in their news feeds, they also saw no response from the President. Finally, he moved back to Washington and photos of Bush, viewing some of the damage from Airforce 1, hastened the anger and the perception of the people. To compound that, he didn’t personally visit the affected areas, furthering the perception of aloofness.

Read the story here.


The Lesson.

A plethora of wrong decisions ultimately led the president down the path of being seen as aloof and one not of them. A perception that never went away. A perception that ultimately derailed his premiership.

Once a leader loses the “locker room” he is on his way out. We have seen it time and time again in the sporting arena, in this case the locker room was the American public. Once they were lost, it was simply a matter of time. Ultimately Bush was lost.


Leadership was once described by Tony Curl as an almost “noble” pursuit. Bit wanky in my eyes, but the basic premise is that leadership is about the people they lead. In this case, Bush may not have made any fundamental errors, he was poorly advised, and he remained detached when he should have been on the public eye, on the ground and leading the recovery efforts.

This is a classic case of perception is reality. It’s so true. It actually doesnt matter what you think or believe, it will surely be about what your team think and believe.

Hopefully, in your leadership career you will never have to be deal with something as catastrophic as a hurricane, but your strategy needs to be one that takes care of the people you lead, whatever that looks like for you. While you never may be a dumb leader president, you deserve to be a better leader. Good luck.