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Responsible leadership and COVID-19: small Island making big waves in cruise tourism

Paul Pounder (Department of Business and Management, St. George's University, St. George's, Grenada)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 26 January 2021

Issue publication date: 4 February 2021




The purpose of this paper is to explore responsible leadership and crisis management. Many sectors and economies have faced the stark effect of coronavirus; however, the damage done was felt more in some areas than others. Cruise tourism is one such sector dramatically affected, as it ground to a screeching halt in March 2020. This has led to crisis management, as passengers, cruise-line crew, large cruise companies and governments were now faced with a new reality as countries around the world closed their borders. This article aims at discussing in detail how responsible leadership, in the small island of Barbados, championed a response to support the cruise tourism sector and assist in managing the crisis.


The author conducted a literature review on the current knowledge relating leadership and crisis management. Thus building a better understanding in the field and identifying gaps for making new arguments for best practices of leadership development in crisis management established in the cruise tourism sector. The author gave viewpoints based on the leadership style of the Prime Minister of Barbados.


Responsible leadership is a style that has been best observed as one that emphasizes a commitment to the common good and provides a constructive societal impact. With this approach, the leaders navigated the uncertainty surrounding the crisis and provided fresh hope to future plans. Thus, the coronavirus was perceived in a positive way, producing opportunities for progress and change.

Research limitations/implications

By developing an understanding of traditional leadership theories, it provides a framework for the adaptation of responsible leadership approach in crisis management. Moreover, the practice of responsible leadership in this COVID-19 era is shown to be crucial to crisis management and enhancing performance. Limitations on viewpoint are based on the author's philosophies.

Practical implications

This paper provides a better understanding of the principles surrounding leadership and fashions a framework for discussing responsible leadership from a crisis management standpoint. The viewpoint provides an optimistic difference in managing a crisis.

Social implications

The paper provides a better understanding of responsible leadership as an integrated approach to governance, ethics and social responsibility. The paper provides a basis to assess the intersection of the literature on leadership and crisis management.


This article contributes to the literature on responsible leadership within the context of crisis management.



Pounder, P. (2021), "Responsible leadership and COVID-19: small Island making big waves in cruise tourism", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 118-131.



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