Letter Re: Origin of the "13% of People are Leaders in a Crisis" Statistic?

Thursday, Dec 27, 2012

Captain Rawles,
I have seen this statistic of "13% of people are leaders, 74% are followers, and 13% shut down during a crisis". I have seen this stat mentioned on Dr. Koelker's blog, on your blog, and it was even mentioned on a NBC Dateline program covering the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident. Despite seeing this stat mentioned in a variety of places I have yet to see who created the stat. I have never once seen where it was cited from and I can not seem to find any citation of it on the internet. Have you ever come across the origin of this data?

Please Advise, - Arthur K.

JWR Replies: Reader Kris N. reminded me: "In the book, "The Survivors Club" by Ben Sherwood , in chapter two, he tells of the studies of John Leach. Mr. Leach was curious about why so many people died when the "Herald of Free Enterprise" ferry capsized outside the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium in March of 1987. His subsequent Theory of 10-80-10 was the result of examining this as well as many other disasters. It states that roughly 10% of people will handle a crisis in a relatively calm and rational state of mind. Under duress, they will pull themselves together quickly. They assess situations clearly and their decision making is sharp and focused. The majority of people however will be stunned and bewildered with significantly impaired reasoning who will behave in a reflexive, almost automatic or mechanical manner, such as the commuters in the King's Cross fire who trudged forward with their routines despite the smoke. The other 10% will just simply do the wrong thing in the crisis."


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