In these unusual and challenging times, as a leader it would be easy to flip into survival mode: running around trying to fix things; dealing with employees fairly; providing a patient service where needed; and undertaking many tasks previously undertaken by those currently on furlough. Yet, while action is important, remember:
- We currently have no idea how long Covid-19 is going to affect our lives and businesses. The most important thing any leader can do, is to look after their own health. Sleeping, eating healthily, planning breaks and taking time to relax are not dispensable. They are within our control and are absolutely vital if we are to see out this emergency and come out the other side, ready to move our practices forward. If you are feeling the strain, time taken to manage the stress is time well spent and there are many within and out with the profession who could help or point you in the right direction.
- There is not likely to be the perfect solution to every problem you encounter. You are dealing with the unknown and you won’t be able to control or predict the outcomes of your decisions when you make them. Therefore, as a leader, try to keep communication channels open, seek others opinion and monitor feedback and data so that if things aren’t turning out as you had planned, you can quickly reassess and adjust. Flexible leaders, humble enough to adapt, are most likely to thrive in the long run. Likewise, don’t be too hard on yourself when mistakes are made- you are human. Employees and colleagues are much more likely to respect and support a leader who listens and is honest when communicating, than one who puts on a brave but unapproachable face.
- Stay true to yourself. In any situation, if we begin to make decisions which are against our values it can cause great emotional strain. Remind yourself, what is important to you? Why does your practice exist? Use this knowledge to guide your choices. An accountability partner is a great help in these circumstances and a useful sounding board.
- Learn from others. There is no shame in lifting the phone to a neighbouring practice and discussing actions taken or options for supporting and helping each other. They may be your competitor, but now is a time for collaboration, not fierce competition.
- Retain perspective. Covid-19 won’t be forgotten, but it will pass. Looking back five years from now, what would you like to remember about your leadership? Negativity, burnout and covert decisions OR looking for the positive, open communication, adaptability, clarity, kindness, respect, caring for yourself and others? As a leader, you are the role model. Keep a diary, look for the positives, celebrate the successes, be grateful for what you have now and encourage others to do the same.
Leadership has received much attention in the profession in recent years. Now is an opportunity to put the learning into practice and demonstrate what exceptional leadership can achieve.