Ohio Cargo Train Accident, A Great Example of Leadership Communication

Feb 22, 2023
Ohio Cargo Train Derailment Accident - Great Example of Leadership Communication

By now you are probably familiar with the Norfolk Southern Railroad cargo train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

It is creating, at a minimum, an environmental mess, if not an environmental catastrophe.

Time will tell.

In the Wall Street Journal today there is an article quoting Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw, who has visited East Palestine three times in the three weeks since the February 3rd accident.

It seems, from reading the article, Shaw, CEO for less than a year, is meeting the tragedy head-on, based on this quote in the newspaper:


“My job is to push out the noise and focus on the citizens of East Palestine, focus on the environmental remediation, focus on investing in this community,” Mr. Shaw said. 

Mr. Shaw said an employee who lives in East Palestine is now helping to be a liaison between him and the community. “He invited me to his home and I got to meet his wife and his daughter, and he invited a bunch of his friends and neighbors over,” he said. “We sat down and had a very emotional conversation about what happened and what Norfolk Southern would do about it.”

Mr. Shaw gave the employee, who works in mechanical operations, a budget of $1 million to help the community in East Palestine recover, in projects such as cleaning up a playground or helping the local flower shop."


 A little over a month later, Shaw was before the U.S. Congress and reiterated his support for stricter regulations that will enhance safety as well as the financial commitment to the community  (Link to NY Times article).


Remember this blog article from late last year regarding Irish Poet David Whyte, on his poem, "Start Close In" - Mr. Shaw is certainly starting "close in," I'm sure it was a step "he didn't want to take."


BUT, leadership calls, and Mr. Shaw so far is answering the call.


What are your thoughts on Mr. Shaw's approach? Leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.