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A Review of “Are You Leading Through the Crisis… or Managing the Response?”

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By Authors Eric J. McNulty and Leonard Marcus

By Kelly Sanders

In this article, the quote the authors close with is paramount:

“The most effective leaders in a crisis ensure that someone else is managing the present well while focusing their attention on leading beyond the crisis toward a more promising future.” As the article opens it talks about the timeline of a crisis and that it can be useful to think of the crisis as stages – the stability of what was, the chaos of what is, and the future which is what will be. As the title suggests, the authors emphasize that as a leader you need to focus on what the future holds throughout the stages of the crisis and trust that you have key team members managing the day to day of the response. The article also hits on some key pitfalls to avoid as a leader:

Taking a Narrow View

As a leader, you must do the opposite, step back and take a wide view of the situation to see both the struggles and the opportunities that exist. Look at the bigger picture and all of the issues unfolding, where is your leadership truly needed. It likely will not be in the immediate management of the crisis itself. In your practice, once you support making the necessary decisions, let your team focus on the day to day. Be there help steer through obstacles that may occur, communication efforts with the community, look at what opportunities may exist that you never saw for PT in your community, and plan to implement them.

Getting Seduced by Managing

Don’t be tempted to jump into the operational side, look downstream to what comes next, what is needed to move through the immediate recovery to prepare your practice for what the future looks like. Will telehealth be a permanent part of the future? How will you integrate it into your historical practice? What opportunities do you see that you can plan for? How can you prepare your team for what the future of PT looks like? Resist the temptation to go into patient care, head down because you are the best clinician. Do not fall back to your comfort zone.

Over-Centralizing the Response

Despite wanting to, you cannot control every aspect of your practice right now. If you try to take all of the reins and make every decision about every patient, phone call, and issue, you will handicap your team and make them less nimble to respond to change. Create expectations for each team member and be clear with what decisions you must make as the leader and which things you will delegate.

This article is a great, quick read and very pertinent to the times we are in now as practice owners and managers. Take a few minutes to breathe, review the three points above, and contemplate what things look like in 2021. Then get to work drawing that out for your team!


Additional Reading:

What Small Businesses Need to Survive the Coronavirus, By Catherine Monson
hbr.org/2020/03/what-small-businesses-need-to-survive-the-coronavirus-crisis

A 5-Day Plan to Keep Your Company Afloat, By Steve Blank
hbr.org/2020/03/a-5-day-plan-to-keep-your-company-afloat