Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Resilience in action: leading for resilience in response to COVID-19
  1. Michelle A Barton1,
  2. Marlys Christianson2,
  3. Christopher G Myers3,4,
  4. Kathleen Sutcliffe3,4
  1. 1 Management Department, Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Joseph L Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4 School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michelle A Barton, Bentley University, Waltham, MA 01890, USA; mbarton{at}


Resilience matters now more than ever in healthcare, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting healthcare providers and systems under unprecedented strain. In popular culture and everyday conversation, resilience is often framed as an individual character trait where some people are better able to cope with and bounce back from adversity than others. Research in the management literature highlights that resilience is more complicated than that – it’s not just something you have, it’s something you do. Drawing on research on managing unexpected events, coordinating under challenging conditions, and learning in teams, we distill some counter-intuitive findings about resilience into actionable lessons for healthcare leaders.

  • behaviour
  • medical leadership
  • management
  • learning

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ's website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Twitter @ChrisGMyers

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conceptualisation and writing of the article. MAB is the guarantor and attests that all listed authors meet authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted.

  • 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.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.