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What's Needed From Leadership in the Coronavirus Crisis

Clasped hands in PPE gloves indicate the need for healthcare leadership during a supply shortage.

True leadership isn't determined by your position or seniority. It's determined by your ability to serve as an example. And in the age of COVID-19, setting a positive example is more important than ever.

(Please excuse the occasional GIF attempt to relieve the tension of this serious topic.) 

During the pandemic, finding supplies, finding a supplier, and finding a way of keeping track of those supplies once you have them are all crucial challenges. But the novel coronavirus hasn't only presented a crisis in logistics.

We're all dealing with our own personal crises at the same time as we're trying to provide the best care possible to those in need. That's soul-crushing. 

Not surprisingly, the mental toll on healthcare workers is extremely high at the moment. 

Part of that is because healthcare workers - with good reasons in many cases - are not convinced of their safety in their own facilities. There have been thousands of complaints to OSHA about a lack of PPE at healthcare providers and related businesses. 

And part of the strain on healthcare workers is related to the stress of being alive in 2020, period. Any one crisis would be too much, but we're facing an onslaught of more than we can handle every day. 

It was estimated months ago that deaths of despair - from suicide, substance abuse, etc. stemming from COVID-19 and quarantine anxiety - could top 100,000. With no end to the pandemic in sight, that number is likely to be much higher (and much more difficult to determine). 

So what does all this have to do with leadership? 

You are responsible for the health and safety of the people around you. In your facilities and in your community. You're already a leader. 

And that shouldn't be an increased burden. Because the more you reach out to others, the more they reach back. 

All of which can sound a little wishy-washy. So, to prevent this from becoming too much of a cat poster, here's some brief but specific things you can do to lead your coworkers at every level. 

Communicate your plans and your capabilities. Fill the gaps in others' capabilities where you can, and insist that they do the same for you. 

Dedicate yourself to improvement. That will probably take lots of flexibility and openness to new ideas. You've got a great head start with all the changes you've had to implement recently to keep up with changing conditions. Don't let that slow down. 

And set boundaries for yourself. You don't have to do it all all the time. It's easy to ruin your own health trying to make sure everyone around you is healthy. Take time for yourself where you can, even if it's just five minutes. 

That's all we've got for this week. Thanks for doing all you do. Be safe out there. 


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