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Take a tip from 9/11 families

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

The families of Americans killed on 9/11 rose from crippling tragedy to reshape national policy, becoming the most successful citizen-advocates in generations.

Their advice to leaders?

First, set goals. Mary Fetchet, who lost her son on 9/11 and now directs Voices of September 11th, advises advocates to learn everything they can, form a strategy and study tactics. Fetchet became an expert on terrorism and intelligence.

Act swiftly and strongly. The families focused on a specific recommendation—establishing a 9/11 commission—says co-chairman former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. “They did not come forward with a 50-point program.”

Persist. The families cultivated allies and kept up constant pressure. “The most important lesson is to never give up,” says Carie Lemack, who lost her mother and went on to head the Homeland Security Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Co-chair former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, remembers the families’ demand that he subpoena testimony and documents: “One of them said, ‘Put this ring on your ­finger. This is all that’s left of my husband.’ ”

— Adapted from “Playbook,” Jill Lawrence, National Journal.

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