Infectious disease often leads to irrational behavior. It’s a primal defense. We saw this during the early days of the AIDS pandemic, as infected children were barred from schools and some health professionals wouldn’t provide care. We are seeing it again now with Ebola.
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, analyzes the situation:
Ebola is exposing a broader problem: the sober reality of our fragmented, uncoordinated private health-care system. We have enormous health-care resources in the United States. What we lack is a national, integrated system needed to respond effectively to a severe national threat such as Ebola.
In many ways the U.S. Ebola crisis is a crisis of leadership. So, what does a leader do in a time of crisis?
In addition to the CDC provided Ebola information for hospitals and providers, here is a CRISIS LEADERSHIP CHECKLIST from the Physician Leadership Institute. Based on our physician leadership model, we’ve developed 5 key areas that must be addressed based on the physician leadership model:
» Leading with Purpose:
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy
In times of crisis, leaders anchor their teams in both the purpose of the organization and their individual purpose.
- Have we clearly articulated our organizational purpose of serving others?
- Are we connecting with individual’s burning ambition versus burning platforms?
- Have we clearly articulated our organization core values such as compassion, care, and service to others?
- Have we clearly articulated our goals and capabilities for the crisis at hand?
- Have we shared these goals with all our internal stakeholders (employees, staff, physicians, patients)?
- Have we communicated these goals with all our external stakeholders (citizens, local institutions, press, public agencies)?
- Are our actions timely?
- Are we trusted?
- Am I trusted as a leader?
- Do we have the right communications team in place? Do they know what to do and when?
- Does everyone know who is in charge and responsible across the entire process?
» Leading Self:
“It is said that one who knows himself and knows others will not be endangered” – Sun Tzu
- Have I communicated clearly my core principles and values such as courage, duty and service to others?
- Have my actions been consistent with my core values thus inspiring trust?
- Am I authentic in my actions and behaviors? Do I lead by example?
- Do I demonstrate the courage required by the situation?
- Am I forthcoming and timely with my communications?
» Leading People:
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” - Nelson Mandela
- Do we put our people first?
- Have we showed empathy towards our team’s concerns for safety and wellbeing?
- Are we actively listening to our teams and they feel heard?
- Are we providing our people with the best training required?
- Are we coaching our people on all critical tasks and priorities?
- Have we built the appropriate teams – at every level of the organization?
- Do we have a collaborative mindset?
- Are there any leaders whose crisis management leadership we are concerned about and for whom we need to provide special guidance?
- Are we present and visible? Are we leading by walking around ?
- Do our teams know standard protocols on when, and how to escalate potential concerns, issues?
- Do our teams know standard protocols should they be approached / questioned by the press outside of work?
- Is the communications team trained to be proactive?
- Do we have a FAQ document distributed to our employees?
» Leading with Strategy:
“The effective strategist (leader) only seeks engagement after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to loose first fights and afterward looks for victory.” – Sun Tzu
It is useful to reflect on Sun Tzu’s advice to “learn and do the orthodox, but win with the unorthodox.”
- Have we assessed the impact of the crisis on the organization? The community?
- Have we planned for how can this situation escalate?
- Is my “river of information” sufficient to provide me swift access to critical information/ breaking news internally and externally from which to make appropriate decisions?
- Have we benchmarked and learned from other best practices?
- How do we manage fear and panic?
- Are we executing our strategy effectively with a plan–do–check process?
- What will be our own unorthodox best in class strategy and actions? What innovative actions, processes can we develop to manage the crisis?
» Leading for Results:
“The pinnacle of excellence is not marked by number of the victories, fame for wisdom or courageous achievement, it is about flawless execution.” – Sun Tzu
- What are our measures of success? And do our teams know them?
- Are we focused on key activities?
- Are our processes tried and tested?
- What systems thinking models are required?
- Are our decisions based on evidence and best practices?
- Have we taken all possible safety precautions?
- Are we optimized for productivity and effectiveness?
- Have we published a regular communications frequency and are we communicating to our teams per that schedule: our progress towards our goals, any concerns and responses, updated FAQs, reminder of linkage between purpose, actions and results, etc ?