Nancy Anderson, RN, MA

In a crisis, people generally take one of two paths. Some go down the pessimistic path of fear and helplessness, assuming a victim mind-set. Others take the optimistic path of resilience and a “we’ll get through this!” attitude. Right now, in the midst of this pandemic, employees are watching leaders very closely to determine which path their leader is taking.

In times of crisis, employees need to feel hope from leaders, and that there is a way forward. But how do you lead when things are so unpredictable? After all, for most of us, this is probably the most challenging upheaval we’ve experienced in our lifetime — both professionally and personally. While there are no easy answers, I’d like to offer 3 actions that directly and positively impact your employees’ experience of your leadership.


The disruption of the pandemic and looming uncertainty leaves people hungry for information. The fact is, we don’t know when it’s going to end — nor what it will look like at the end. So, all you can do is communicate what you do know and do so routinely and consistently. Establish a steady, reliable flow of information to employees … here’s what we know and here’s what we don’t know yet.


While your staff act to ensure the well-being of residents, leaders need to demonstrate care for the well-being of employees. Your staff need to know that you’re very aware of the unique stressors in play and that you’re doing everything you can to ensure their safety and well-being. The degree to which people feel confidence in leaders is highly driven by whether employees believe that leaders are looking out for their best interest.


When things start to settle (and they will), think about what needs to change. I’m reminded of some sage advice offered by Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic: “Never waste a good crisis.” As we’ve been forced to get back to basics during the crisis, this will be an opportunity to make changes going forward that we may not have otherwise considered. A crisis primes us to think differently, allowing us to transform things that may have gotten entrenched for the wrong reasons. A crisis allows us to bring about needed change much faster than non-crisis mode. Involve your employees in redesigning the future.

A crisis is a true test of leadership. But good crisis management can ultimately improve your employees’ experience working in your organization.  

Nancy Anderson, RN, MA, is the SVP of Engagement Solutions for Align. In her role, she provides strategic leadership and supports development of solutions to help providers successfully build and sustain a culture of engagement.