Workshop Abstract

Evidence-Based Hope


Bill Tholl & Graham Dickson.


By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Inspire leaders at all levels to support one another as a critical success factor in building both individual and organizational resilience in coping with COVID.

  • Put LEADS to work as a practical, strength-based tool to help build resilience and grow coming out of the pandemic.

Evidence-Informed Hope Primer

The Problem:

The COVID-19 pandemic is now endemic and has taken a terrible toll on the health workforce and its leaders. Some were certainly hoping it wouldn’t last this long. It was a sprint that turned into a marathon; one with no real finish line yet in sight. The result has been increased stress and burnout, with physicians, nurses and others leaving in record numbers, the “Great Resignation”. This is the leadership challenge.

The Gap:

But there is some good news. The Canadian Health Leadership Network (CHLNet) launched an action research project in March 2020 to chronical lessons being learned as we lead through COVID-19. Using data collected during the first four waves of the pandemic, and a longitudinal analysis of that data, we identified ongoing challenges to health leadership related to building resilience and psychologically healthy workplaces.

Probably the most important lesson learned is that constructive leadership matters. We all experienced the inherent uncertainty that demands leadership, not management. And all of us saw leadership that either buoyed our confidence and helped motivate us or undermined our resolve.. Leadership can be—and often is—a tug of war between constructive and destructive leadership.

The Hook:

One of the key themes to emerge is that the LEADS framework is seen as a description of constructive leadership that can be applied to the evolving leadership challenge that is COVID-19 and its variants. COVID-19 has created a unique context for the practice of leadership in healthcare. LEADS is being use widely in the Canadian healthcare system as a common language of leadership. So, it made sense to identify successful leadership practices during the pandemic and related them to LEADS.

A second theme is that leaders can not just survive but actually thrive when they support one another. Specifically, eight actions emerge from ‘leaders supporting leaders’ that should inspire you. They are: build personal resilience; practice compassionate leadership; model effective interpersonal leadership behaviour; ensure frequent and authentic communication; participate in networks and communities of practice; apply systems thinking; balance short- and long-term commitments; and contribute to collaborative, national strategy.

The Take Home Point:

In this session we will elaborate on how LEADS is a constructive approach to the practice of leadership, but more importantly, the eight steps that leaders can take to support one another to address the challenge of building healthy organizations and a healthy society.