By: Michael Steinhauer OTR, MPH, FAOTA
FOTA SIS Administration & Management Chair (Modified from Matt Cornner, Managing Director, Talent Development Solutions,

The rapidly evolving COVID-19 epidemic presents clinical leaders with an unprecedented challenge - leading teams through a crisis with unknown scope and no clear end in sight. Exercising the management practice of leading by emotional intelligence will require fierce orientation to purpose, self-awareness, self-regulations, empathy, and compassion. Emotional intelligence allows us to manage the human and emotional complexity of a moment like this.

Here are a few tips for administrators and managers to help navigate the clinical environment:

1. Position yourself to decide, not react by orienting to a clear purpose. It all starts with purpose, whereby health care leaders primary purpose should be health and safety for all involved (patients, family, clinical and non-clinical staff, etc.). But leaders must also maintain the financial health of their organizations or departments, under extraordinary pressures often in tension with one another. Leaders must position themselves to be deeply aware of what matters most at any given moment and in any given decision. The best leaders are relentlessly oriented to purpose.

2. Don’t get emotionally hijacked – practice self-awareness and self-regulation After orienting to purpose, leaders recognize the rapidly evolving and complex circumstances that can emotionally overwhelm, or “hijack,” even high performing leaders. The best leaders operate with a level of consciousness that allows them to notice those outsized feelings before they erupt into unproductive reactions. On the job decisions throughout the day can trigger an unproductive reactions. Good leaders check in with themselves frequently, even just 60 seconds between meetings, to take a beat and close their eyes to notice how they are feeling. You can use a label and learn exercise to monitor oneself. Research shows that when you can label your emotional reactions (fear, anger, frustration), that naming them starts to disengage the emotional brain (the amygdala), and re-engage the logical brain (pre-frontal cortex), which allows for greater calm in the moment. Then learn what those feelings are telling yourself about the situation. Your reaction is data and can be used to better navigate the moment. Processing your own emotions allows you to stay grounded and continue to be an effective leader.

3. Tap into your community of friends, peers, and colleagues for support Leadership can be isolating. You must lead but maintain calm. Concurrently you are not an island and effective leaders know to turn to their trusted community outside of work and with trusted peers at work. Emotional moments and difficult decisions may require a leader to send and receive support. The processing of feelings can be cathartic and validate the challenges that one is facing. A place to vent emotions is frequently necessary. Then pivot back to your purpose so you can continue to remain present and engaged in your organization or department’s ongoing challenges.

4. Be the Chief Empathy Officer and let staff know they are genuinely cared for With every communication, large and small, ask the question: Am I leaving this person/team/staff feeling genuinely valued and cared for? Notice if there is a provider or staff member that is being disproportionally impacted by the epidemic: as more people are infected, hospitalized, as PPE and care capacity are overwhelmed, as the economy deteriorates and peoples’ spouses or loved ones start losing jobs. It is often hard to know exactly what to say, everyone in the organization is trying to get by. Start with something very simple, “You are important to me and this organization and to what we are trying to accomplish. How are you feeling right now?” Leadership challenges rarely look like they do today with the COVIT-19 clinical practice environment, impacting on all treatment settings. Leadership requires a re-tooling of best practices to meet the needs of an ill-stricken community and the health care workers who support them. Adopting emotionally intelligent management practices will help leaders be successful in keeping staff motivated and directed.

Michael J Steinhauer, OTR/L, MPH, FAOTA
9260 Laurel Green Drive Boynton Beach, FL 33437
(h) 561-739-3242 (C) 608-332-5547 (Fax) 561-739-3283
@ [email protected]
Share this post:


Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment

Amazon searches starting from benefit FOTA!