Leading in the age of COVID-19
At the moment you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling the weight of responsibility hang on your shoulders like never before. You’re thinking of each and every employee on your payroll, the patients and residents in your care, and each of their families. You care about them and you want to keep them safe. You’re thinking days and weeks ahead so you can anticipate what they need next in this unprecedented marathon of a crisis that pervades every aspect of life and leadership.
Stop for just a minute, take a deep breath and look back on the past several weeks. You’ve made a lot of smart choices. In the process, you’ve made your organization stronger for the long term.
You’ve put on your own oxygen mask first. You know that you cannot take care of those in your care unless you’re eating well, sleeping, moving your body and connecting with people who truly care about you. Rather than pushing these things aside to make one more phone call or send one more email, you’re making time in your life for self-care. Because you know your team is watching and you’re teaching them how to take care of themselves.
You’ve made communication a top priority. You’ve kept your teams informed on the evolving crisis and your organization’s response plans, even when those plans change several times a day. (We’ve compiled a one-pager on our COVID-19 response page with more tips and tactics on best practices for internal communications.) You’ve stayed close to referral sources with a focus on helping them. You’ve kept visible and relevant in your advertising to prospective patients and families who simply don’t know who to turn to for help in this crisis. And, you’ve helped these families connect on a deeper level with the value you bring. You’ve helped donors channel their passion for your organization into meaningful and visible actions that support your team.
You’ve figured out how to work from home … possibly while homeschooling a kid or two! You’re Zooming, Teaming and GoToMeeting-ing with the pros. You’re using all the tools in your toolbox to stay connected, focused and empathetic.
You’ve celebrated, no matter how small the win. From negative test results to new skills mastered to healthy patient discharges to just making it through the day, you know that celebration is a powerful tool. You’ve used moments of celebration as a powerful pause to knit your team closer together, to deepen bonds with referral sources and to connect with collaborators and donors. You know that healthy companies with strong cultures, high engagement and low turnover celebrate.
You’ve surprised and delighted your team and patients/residents. You’ve bought carryout for your staff’s families when they’re working and can’t cook dinner. You’ve redeployed chaplains, social workers and therapists to care for your team. You’ve arranged for a local band to Zoom bomb your staff meeting, turning it into an impromptu dance party. (Each of these really happened, by the way.)
You’ve solved incredible challenges creatively. From sourcing PPE from the manufacturing plant across town to finding creative new ways to protect mental wellness to navigating patient access issues, you’ve slayed some pretty big dragons. And, you’ve seen your team rise to these challenges like never before.
Look at all you’ve accomplished in just a matter of weeks. No one knows how long we’ll be living and leading through COVID-19, but leaders like you make me proud to work in this industry. You make me want to be a better leader. Thank you for getting up each day and doing what you do. Hang in there, we’re all in this together, OneClique.
Stephanie Johnston is president and CEO of Transcend Strategy Group, a team of advisors helping companies in the senior care industry evolve and grow. Her personal experiences in caregiving led her to leave a Fortune 500 career for the senior care industry.