Six leadership qualities for crisis management

Published on June 1, 2020 in Productivity by Dirk Schlimm


Effective leaders focus on clear communication.

When difficult times strike, good leaders set themselves apart by their ability to communicate, empathize and remain strong. Over the past few weeks, we have seen many subject matter experts, like doctors, epidemiologists and economists, taking center stage, who otherwise work out of the public eye.

Leaders and specialists often possess different, yet mutually beneficial, skill sets, which are needed equally in times of crisis. The most effective leaders trust expert advisors to deliver credible information in order to make sound decisions.

What can we learn from the influential people, both new and familiar, who are leading us through this health crisis?

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1. Competence

The many public health experts turned advisors and crisis managers have incredible professional records to back up their recommended guidelines. The UK newspaper The Guardian put together a list of the senior medical experts taking the lead, highlighting their extensive experience at the top of the field. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, for example, played a role in the response to SARS outbreak in 2003 as well as H1N1 in 2009; France’s national health agency director Jerome Salomon specializes in tropical and infectious diseases; White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has reported to six U.S. presidents.

2. Energy

Crisis management requires huge amounts of energy. Dr. Tam, for example, not only advises Canada’s Minister of Health but also heads the Public Health Agency of Canada and coordinates public health agencies across the country, prompting Maclean’s to ask whether she ever gets a day off.

Successful leaders learn how to sustain themselves with little rest, without wearing themselves out, until normality is restored.

3. Presentation skills

The pandemic has shown the importance of clear communication. In many countries, medical experts have been given the responsibility to address and update the public on the latest measures being taken to curb the spread.

Fauci has been praised for his “one-of-a-kind” ability to articulate medical information in a way that is accessible to the public. In Germany, Christian Drosten has become his country’s “de facto explainer”. Officials like Fauci and Drosten communicate clearly and straightforwardly, helping audiences understand the importance of their message and heed their advice.

4. Showing emotion

While public health experts must remain calm, that does not mean that they cannot show emotion. Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s public health institute (RKI), was seen showing visible distress when reporting that many people were not following his advice to stay inside. As a result, the federal government introduced stricter measures, proving that public displays of emotion, when appropriate, can be impactful.

5. Admitting error

Many experts have freely admitted their errors in order to move forward in remedying the current crisis. Dr Fishman, a University of Toronto epidemiologist, admitted in a podcast that he had previously made erroneous assessments. Karl Lauterbach, a German MP, epidemiologist and health management expert, similarly admitted that he had misjudged the severity of this fast-changing crisis.

6. Nothing to prove

Many of the influential people taking the lead during this situation are doing so out of a genuine desire to mitigate the pandemic’s short and long term effects, not to further their own career. Fauci, for example, repeatedly turned down the role of National Institutes of Health director and, at age 79, could be enjoying retirement.

Adapted from an article on Jenoir.com. See the original article here.

More from this author:
Leadership trends: An interview with with Dirk Schlimm
Four questions about cybersecurity every fleet executive must ask


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Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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