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How to Lead Your Team in a Crisis

Jeff Thoren, DVM, PCC, BCC

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Published on April 2, 2020, at 9:42 AM CST

For practice owners who have the responsibility of paying their staff, keeping everyone safe, and keeping a business running, all while not running themselves into the ground, what advice can be offered? In the face of reduced hours, possible closures, and fear, how can practice owners support and maintain a team even if financial support isn’t possible?

Major crises can place a heavy burden on practice owners who see themselves as the person for whom the phrase “the buck stops here” applies. Though practice owners may need to make some difficult decisions, these leadership principles can make the process more productive and a bit less painful.

Following are the author’s top 3 tips for leading a team in the midst of a crisis.


Co-create Solutions Together with Your Team

Having the ultimate responsibility for tough decisions doesn’t mean that practice owners are alone.

Be transparent and open with your communication. Share openly the reality of the situation, especially from a financial perspective. Neither exaggerate nor minimize. By sharing important information with employees, they can make informed decisions and be part of solutions.

Practice leaders don’t always have to have a perfectly worded statement or all the answers about how to respond to crises. In the face of reduced hours, possible closures, and fear, the best way to support and maintain a team is to turn to the team themselves. Ask the team what they need to be supported even when financial support isn’t possible. Seek input and, when possible, give employees a choice about how to solve problems and overcome challenges. Facilitating conversations together offers the best chance of arriving at creative solutions that work for everyone.  


Honor Your Core Values

Many of our own thoughts center around what we need to do to remain safe during the pandemic. It’s also important to consider how we want to be during this time. Imagine asking yourself in the future, when the current crisis is behind us: What key values did I honor as I navigated through the crisis?

Being intentional about values you want to honor (eg, adaptable, trustworthy, dependable, resilient, encouraging) can help you make tough decisions and take authentic action in response to the current crisis.


Practice Being Mindful & Centered

Trying times call for leaders who are capable of responding from a place of love, curiosity, and possibility rather than fear, worry, and resignation. Mindfulness can help leaders stay grounded and lead from strength and neutrality. Learn practical exercises for managing stressors and staying mindful here.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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