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Leadership the New Normal

There is a lot of talk about the ‘new normal’ and what leaders need to do and focus on in the developing pandemic. In leadership, the successful organisations are the ones where the new normal has not been a disruption or dramatic adjustment.

Many care organisations and their leaders were not prepared or had the capacity to deal with a crisis such as Covid 19 or any other type of crisis for that matter.  The sector is typically operating flat out on a normal day and leaders simply don’t get a chance to look up and over the horizon or have ready an ‘emergency action plan’ to be implemented as a scenario unfolds. Going forward these preparations should play a key part in your new normal.

Your choice – become a Jedi or simply create a strategic emergency plan

Wouldn’t it be easy if we were all gifted like a Jedi Knight and could see the future? You may not be a Jedi, but you do have ‘the force’ and that’s your staff. Combined, there is a lot of experience and potentially under-utilised talent among your team, and if given the chance they may spot a crisis coming and have ideas on how to deal with it. The hard part is mobilising your staff to think like a leader and as a leader or manager; accepting that you need help.

Creating a leadership and strategic thinking culture

The benefits of mobilising your staff to create a culture of leadership, where everyone thinks like a leader, is that it creates an engaged team who take ownership and responsibility of results. This includes in a crisis.  The additional benefits are improved team cohesion and a positive impact on care quality, staff retention and morale.

The following simple strategy will help you to build a culture ready for any crisis: 

Announce to your team that in order to adjust to the ‘new normal’ they must play a vital role in emergency strategic decision making for the future. It’s a bold first step and although you may feel you’re giving up ownership and command, you’re not. This will be a powerful demonstration of your flexible leadership and communication style and encourage staff to step up.

When selling this concept to your team, be conscious that your style of delivery should be visionary, creating a positive vision for the future. You should also incorporate a coaching style, asking openly for thoughts and opinions. You need to have all eyes and ears wide open and unity within departments and this will support staff to be successful at any time let alone in a crisis.

Let these four key phrases become your mantra as your build this new culture:

Engage – introduce your staff to the concept that they are now all leaders and as a leader they are required to act like a ‘Jedi’ and see issues that may be ahead.

Empower – let staff share thoughts about future issues and how equipped you are to deal with it.  Start to create contingency action plans that are ready to be used in the event of a crisis.

Transparent and Safe – Make communication pathways and meetings safe and free from comeback.  Egos and sensitivities need to be put aside and you should have a flat hierarchy when discussing strategic issues.

Normal – Make short reviews a regular monthly event but mid-crisis they should be weekly, if not a daily.

Building a leadership culture may seem like a lot of work, but there’s no better time to start than now while you can clearly look back and see what could have been done better and create a plan moving forward. Good luck and use the force, they are all around you!

Rob Coulthard is the managing director of Judgement Index and runs leadership academies and workshops for care companies. His mission is to share best practice and transform care organisations based on a proven philosophy and award-winning strategy of developing a values-based culture to reduce staff turnover and increase care quality. He is the co-author of The Care Leader’s Handbook, a practical guide to care leadership, available on Amazon.


The Care Leader’s Handbook



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