Background The COVID-19 pandemic impacted many aspects of normal operations in academic medicine. While effective leadership is always important, the intensity and urgency of COVID-19 challenged academic medicine leaders to find new ways to lead their institutions and manage their own experiences of the pandemic.
Methods Sixteen physician leaders from Michigan Medicine took part in semistructured interviews during April and May 2020. Participants were asked open-ended questions about the attributes and techniques that were important to effectively lead during a crisis. The authors analysed the interviews using thematic analysis.
Results Participants described three overarching themes of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic: (1) bringing together a diverse team with clear, shared goals; (2) using a range of strategies to tend to their teams’—as well as their own—well-being; and (3) engaging in leadership reasoning as a way of learning from others and reflecting on their own actions to inform their future leadership practice.
Conclusion The results of this study reveal several salient themes of crisis leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings also highlight the role of leadership reasoning, a reflective practice employed by leaders to understand and improve their leadership skills. This finding presents leadership skill development as part of lifelong learning in medicine. Findings may be incorporated into best practices and preparations to inform future healthcare leaders.
- leadership assessment
- medical leadership
- clinical leadership
Data availability statement
No data are available.
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Contributors TCS and DP conceived the idea. LG and AV further developed study idea. TCS, DP, NT and KD recruited participants and performed data collection. TCS, NT and KD performed data interpretation and analysis. AV oversaw data analysis. TCS and AV wrote manuscript. DP, NT, KD and LG provided manuscript revisions. All authors have provided final approval for manuscript publication and agree to be accountable for the overall content.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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