Leading Through COVID-19: Grounded in Principles, Embracing What is to Come (Part 1 of 2)

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This week we take a look at what it means to effectively lead through the COVID-19 crisis.

Responding to the emotional needs of patients, employees, and colleagues with empathy and compassion can be challenging, even more so during COVID-19. The added pressures of social distancing, wearing PPE, and meeting ever-changing and often contradicting safety guidelines make these times truly unprecedented.

Couple all that with the need to rapidly deploy new technologies in the face of huge reductions in traditional revenue streams such as in-person office visits and deferred or even eliminated elective procedures and surgeries, it is essential that today’s healthcare leaders possess and exhibit superior leadership skills to effectively lead their organizations through this COVID-19 crisis.

Five Leadership Qualities

According to, “The heart of resilient leadership: Responding to COVID-19, A guide for senior leadership”, Deloitte author Punit Renjen describes five qualities that resilient leaders may use to guide their organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Design from the Heart…and the Head
  • Put the Mission First
  • Aim for Speed Over Elegance
  • Own the Narrative
  • Embrace the Long View

Express Compassion & Remain Rational

Mr. Renjen stresses the importance of demonstrating empathy while simultaneously being rational and real about the financial impacts of each decision.
Having the ability to incorporate genuine compassion for those impacted — whether it be patients, employees, colleagues, or even ourselves – while at the same time being aware of the potential adverse effect on the viability of the organization is difficult.

Approaching each decision with a heavy dose of compassion, off-set by a sobering evaluation of the financial consequences, proves to be a balancing act that effective, resilient leaders practice and master as they navigate through crisis.

Urgent and Important

Responding to the immediate demands of the crisis is both urgent and important. Seeking out new opportunities to further the mission of the organization is important, but not necessarily urgent.

Many leaders argue that during the crisis, when things are a bit crazy, is not the appropriate time to innovate, explore, and seek new opportunities.
The ability to do both, take care of the urgent, immediate needs, AND keep an eye out for and pursue new opportunities during the crisis is a defining attribute of resilient leaders.


When I first read #3 above, “Aim for speed over elegance”, my mind went to, “that’s carelessness”.
After reading Mr. Renjen’s statement, which reads, “Resilient leaders take decisive action—with courage—based on imperfect information, knowing that expediency is essential,“ I must admit, I agree.

Effective leaders understand that in certain situations, the luxury of having more time to decide is simply not an option.

Leaders are called on every day to make decisions based on imperfect information under an external time constraint beyond their control.

What’s Happening Right Now

Understanding the current situation is important.

As important, if not more so, is acknowledging that there is much a good leader will not know or understand about the current situation.

Despite not having all the answers, resilient leaders can envision a prosperous future for the organization and communicate that vision in a way that inspires those around them to stay the course during the crisis.

Now is the Time

Now IS the time to look to the future. Now IS the time to innovate. Now IS the time to hold on to our principles – showing compassion and empathy — while simultaneously embracing what is to come.

Effective leaders are finding ways to move forward during COVID-19 while staying grounded in their organization’s guiding principles.

Please let us know if you have comments or questions, and subscribe to our Email Updates, so that you can be assured to receive Thinking Thursdays TIPs.

Have a great day!

Jerry L. Stone
MedicalGPS, LLC.

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