Leadership & Management

The Supportive Leader:
Resilient Leadership &
Management During COVID-19

By Sarrah Lal (@SarrahML) and Teresa Chan (@TChanMD)
Originally Published, March 23, 2020

Work has changed dramatically since social isolation began for the COVID-19 pandemic. Decreased in-person interactions leave many teams in need of additional supports and tools to maintain daily operations. How can leaders continue to be effective and ensure a smooth transition for their teams? 

Please read the resources we’ve aggregated for you below for a few useful resources to support you during these times.

Mastering the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) capabilities will help you navigate circumstances in which higher-order leadership is required.  Take a look at this article which summarizes this concept.

The Cynefin framework is helpful in illustrating how to differentiate between scenarios’ characteristics and develop a problem-solving approach in response. This Harvard Business Review article offers additional insights into how the Cynefin framework may be applied through case studies. 

Be mindful of your response to the crisis, and lead with empathy to address the human side of personnel before organizational operations. This McKinsey article also emphasizes the power of ‘deliberate calm’ and ‘bounded optimism’ when leading your teams in these unprecedented times. 

What will your team struggle with in this new remote work environment? Work-life balance, staying motivated, keeping away from distractions, finding reliable wi-fi and much more. This Vox article reveals some key elements to bear in mind. Make sure your team members have easy channels for communication, you are clear about the new set of work expectations and you empower them throughout this change.

While phone calls are useful in quick communications, they are less helpful in building rapport relative to in-person conversations. Remember that the lack of face-to-face interactions during social distancing efforts (i.e. 100% remote work) means that opportunities to build this social rapport must be intentionally created by leaders. This article highlights some great tools to consider when thinking about how best to communicate and collaborate with your team. Also check out some of the resources in our Inspired Teaching COVID-19 Collection which highlights many communication platforms - many of which can crossover to facilitate your work-life. 

And, that's a wrap for another quick hit from the @MacPFD team. Stay tuned for The Supportive Leader: Creating Effective Team Conversations During COVID-19 for more strategies and tools to use. 

Dr. Teresa Chan (@TChanMD) is an associate professor in the Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine at McMaster University.  She is the assistant dean for McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Program for Faculty Development (@MacPFD).  She is an avid scholar in health professions education and works with the MERIT group (@MERIT_McMaster), and conducts research and scholarship within this area.

Sarrah Lal, MBA is an assistant professor in the Division of Education & Innovation (DEI) within the Department of Medicine. She is a entrepreneurship and innovation expert and directs various educational efforts within the Michael G. DeGroote Initiative for Innovation in Healthcare. Currently she is also the lead of the Leadership & Management team in the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Program for Faculty Development (@MacPFD).