What a difference six weeks has made.  What were you doing 45 days ago? Think about that; in less than 45 days, our world has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected every interaction in our lives.  We are working different, exercising different, playing different, leading different…and with each day, a new different seems to be thrust upon us.  This global crisis will be something we all will remember with the impact it has had on our family, our friends, and our society.

Since 2003, I have been fortunate to have worked with two different companies in the medical industry.  Both of these organizations provide products, treatments, and technologies that improve patient lives and clinical outcomes.  I have witnessed many stories from patients who attribute their health and healing to the products we promoted, and I have always felt lucky to have been a small part of their journey.

Please note that I played a small part in their journey, as the products we represented are only as good as the professionals who are treating the patients.  Over these last 17+ years, I have been humbled by the relationships I have built within the healthcare community.  From each level of the multi-disciplinary experience a patient goes through when being treated for a complication or illness, these heroes are trained to deal with unplanned emergencies every day. While this current scenario is new and troubling, it is with no surprise that our medical professionals are beginning to receive the credit and RESPECT they deserve.  In addition, many of the patients I have met have also exuded these same RESPECT qualities.

7 Characteristics the Medical Community Uses to Handle a Crisis with RESPECT: Resilient, Empathy, Simple, Persistent, Empower, Consistent, Team

Resilient: Being resilient is the mental or physical ability to recover quickly from a setback.

Empathy: Recognize another person’s feelings and to respond accordingly

Simple: Make things easy to understand

Persistent: Continuance in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition

Empower: Giving someone the authority to make a decision

Consistent: Behaving in the same way with each interaction

Team: The sum of the group is better than that of an individual

An example: My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer many years ago.  The chances of him surviving six weeks were incredibly slim.  However, my dad and the team who treated him, from the nurses to the surgeons, followed the same example my dad set of being resilient and not accepting the odds of surviving past six weeks.  They showed empathy with our family throughout his treatment, realizing what we were going through, and explained scenarios to my mom in simple terms.  They showed persistence in providing a solution to overcome the tumors that were ravaging his body, and they empowered each other to think of new methods of treatment.  This consistent approach allowed my dad to live 13 years past the original 6-week diagnosis, and he was able to witness weddings, births of his grandchildren, and many other great cherished moments.

7 Ways to Lead with RESPECT in Times of Crisis:

  1. Embody Resiliency: Companies are dealing with situations they have most likely not prepared for. Make sure you are communicating with your teams on your specific plans to recover and set realistic time frames on each project you start. Most importantly, set the expectation of what the future holds.  After getting knocked down, people will get up quickly if they know that good times are ahead. Mistakes will be made in times of crisis…the concept of failing forward and starting over will get you through difficult times.
  2. Lead with Empathy: Your teams are going through a time of uncertainty right now, whether it is working in a new environment, having to help their children learn from home, or the countless other ways that our lives have been affected. And each individual is experiencing these challenges differently.  Conduct a call with the teams you lead with no work agenda…just ask questions and listen to understand versus listening to respond.  Don’t feel you have to offer a solution to every scenario.  Shallow leaders think they need to fix each situation, making it about them.  Often time, just listening and acknowledging is the best course of leading others.
  3. Keep Things Simple: In challenging times, many companies’ over-complicate situations, especially as business needs change and suddenly evolve. Ask these two questions for any solution you are looking to provide: Does this solution provide a positive experience for our customers? Do we have the resources to offer this solution in a timely manner, in addition to supporting this solution?  You have to answer yes to these two questions before investing time and resources.
  4. Be Persistent: Inspire your teams to realize the value your company provides.  Motivation is an internal characteristic that either people have or do not.  If you or your teams are not willing to put in the work to overcome setbacks, then your resilience will suffer as well…persistence and resilience are synonymous with destination companies who evolve with the times.
  5. Empower Your People: Insecure leaders begin to micromanage in times of crisis, continually talking and focusing on their own self-work and importance, and making decisions without involving the teams and others. Successful leaders delegate tasks, even the highest priority ones, and create an environment of development and trust, which leads to an engaged culture. Make sure your teams are involved with all projects, not just the low-visibility ones.  And provide recognition to those who deserve it.  Make a point of recognizing or thanking one person per day (phone call, text message, e-mail) with a specific way they have helped your team.
  6. Stay Consistent: Successful teams usually have a leader who provides consistent messaging and are constant in their day to day operations with their teams.  If your organization is not sure what to expect from their company or their leader from one day to the next, the team environment suffers, and culture eventually is compromised.  Establish a team of peers and ask them for advice on how they are leading with their teams.  Make sure your behaviors are the same in times of prosperity as they are in times of worry.
  7. It Is All About The Team: President Eisenhower said: “Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.” Prosperous organizations are comprised of a group of individuals who understand their roles and responsibilities to succeed as a team.  Make sure your team is aligned on what you are looking to accomplish (vision and mission) and know that what you can achieve as a team far exceeds what you can complete as an individual.

Now more than ever, our healthcare professionals deserve our respect.  I have learned so much from people like Dot Weir, John Lantis, Seth Rosenbaum, David Galler, Robin Bethell, and Shannon Carroll, who are just a small sample of the thousands of medical people I have worked with over the years.  They are committed to help others improve their quality of life by providing a level of care that meets all of the above characteristics.  Clinicians are taught to deal with crisis on a patient by patient basis, and I hope this blog post shows my respect for these front-line warriors in our current landscape.  And for my followers, a crisis always ends…while times may be tough now, we will come out stronger and better, having lived through these times of adversity.