For direction during the coronavirus pandemic, most of us naturally turn to prominent decision-makers appearing on television or in news headlines. But some of the very best leadership has been quietly demonstrated far away from cameras and microphones.
Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, which gives millions of seniors the food and resources they desperately need amid COVID-19
Ironically, we're now facing the same social isolation component that we've faced for decades with the homebound seniors we serve. But I'm committed to making sure that social isolation and social disengagement aren't the same. You can be socially isolated, but you don't have to feel lonely. As a leader, I set the example. I am having virtual staff meetings where we'll put up funny pictures of our faces. I'll start singing Gloria Gaynor's “I Will Survive.” We have places online where staff members can ask questions, and I'm also checking in one-on-one with my staff. They're not expecting it, so they might get a little nervous, but I want to know how they're doing.
Kevin Sowers, president of the Johns Hopkins Health System, a world-renowned academic network that includes one of America’s top-rated hospitals
I’m an old oncology nurse, and when your job is to go in and tell people they have cancer and talk to them about the implications, it puts perspective on crisis management. That translates now to remaining calm, because if your own emotions are built into the crisis, you become a part of the problem. For example, faced with shortages in the supply chain, we had to teach staff how to cleanse N95 masks for re-use according to CDC guidelines. That’s very different from what people were accustomed to. But if you stay calm, making sure that you build your strategies and actions on facts, employees respond.
Diane Pearse, is CEO of Hickory Farms, a mid-size business known for its gourmet foods
Being in this crisis is like driving a car without your glasses. Accept that you can’t see certain things. Normally we’re making decisions and commitments now to be prepared for our busy season at the end of the year. This year, we are delaying by several weeks the decision on which malls we will operate in for the 2020 holiday season; we are spreading out our commitments with suppliers; and we are gating our website development work rather than committing up front to the full statement of work for 2020. We’re thinking in two-week increments. Or I’ll say, what can we do best today? What can we do best over the next 45 minutes? Sometimes it’s just, what’s my next move? Shortening the timeframe gives you greater control.