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Translating 6 key insights from research on leadership and management in times of crisis
  1. Denise Lucia Reyes1,
  2. Tiffany Bisbey1,
  3. David Day2,
  4. Eduardo Salas1
  1. 1Psychological Sciences, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2Psychology, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ms Denise Lucia Reyes, Psychological Sciences, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA; denise.l.reyes{at}


Background Certain leadership behaviours are particularly helpful for healthcare teams remain effective through crisis situations, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. This paper summarizes evidence-based insights based on their importance and prevalence in the crisis leadership literature to provide recommendations that apply to medical team leaders broadly construed. We recommend that leaders adopt these behaviours in conditions of intense difficulty, uncertainty, as well as physical and psychological peril.

Results We draw from research on workplace resilience, as well as leadership literature (ie, team leadership, transformational leadership, shared leadership, and crisis leadership) to provide six key insights along with evidence and practical guidance for healthcare leaders to help their teams in the midst of a crisis: (1) remain optimistic when communicating a vision, (2) adapt to the changing situation by deferring to team members’ expertise, (3) support organizational resilience by providing relational resources, (4) be present to signal commitment, (5) be empathetic to help prevent burnout, and (6) be transparent in order to remain trustworthy.

  • behaviour
  • management
  • organisational effectiveness
  • research

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  • Contributors DLR contributed in idea generation and writing. TB contributed in idea generation and writing. DD contributed in writing and feedback. ES contributed in idea generation and feedback. All authors contributed in drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content and have had made final approval of the version published.

  • Funding This work was partially supported by National Science Foundation grant no. 1853528 to Rice University, and the U.S. Army Research Institute (ARI) for the Behavioral and Social Sciences and was accomplished under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-19-2-0173.

  • Disclaimer The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Army Research Institute (ARI) for the Behavioral and Social Sciences or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government is authorised to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation herein.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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