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In good times and bad: Five keys to great leadership

March 10, 2021
From the March 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Donald Armstrong

There are several tried and true leadership behaviors that apply during the good times, as well as the tough times.
It is my belief that leadership is leadership, whether in the sun or in the storm, because as a leader it is difficult to have a different set of behaviors during a crisis and then change behaviors when times are calm. Leadership should be reliable and demands consistency. With that being said, 2020 into 2021 has been a time like the world has never seen, and we are still in the midst of it. So, while leadership behaviors must stay consistent there is some extra care that needs to be applied during unprecedented times, such as these.

Here are the leadership behaviors I believe are most important during time of crisis or when times are calm. I will also point out the extra care needed when in a crisis that helps in navigating these tough times. As important as the behaviors are, I believe that being consistent is just as important, maybe even more important.

Transparency (Honesty)
I like to use the word transparency, as opposed to honesty, because shouldn’t we all start by being honest? Transparency, like honesty, is how we build trust. If your staff/team does not trust you or know what you stand for, it will be very difficult to successfully lead though any situation. I would always let my staff know that I would be as transparent with them as possible, without getting into protected information. It is especially important during tough times to be open and transparent, as the staff may face various uncertainties, and having a leader who is willing to share the details will instill a sense of teamwork. Leaders may also feel unsure and vulnerable at times, and having a staff of professionals to work with and go through this with is a tremendous advantage. A team responds to any issue (including COVID-19) when they feel informed and truly had a say in developing a strategy.

Additionally, it is extremely important to be transparent to senior leadership about how the department is handling any adverse situation. The HTM department is a crucial part of the overall healthcare delivery system and should be a strong voice. That means providing updates and progress reports on how the department is performing.

Direct communication
A large part of being transparent is communicating with the staff about any changes or progress taking place. The best way I have found to accomplish this is by having a daily huddle to keep everyone informed and on the same page. I believe communication works best when it is a two-way stream of dialog, so asking for ideas from the staff on how to solve problems is a great way to engage them while evaluating creative and “outside the box” solutions. Leaders will ultimately have the final say in how the team responds, but getting input from all sides is an impactful way to resolve a problem.

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