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Adaptive leadership in crisis: a healthcare system’s resilience journey
  1. Marie Aouad1,
  2. Maya Jalbout Hastie2,
  3. Vanda Yazbeck Karam3
  1. 1Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
  2. 2Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3Department of Anesthesiology, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vanda Yazbeck Karam, Department of Anesthesiology, Lebanese American University, Beirut, 03797751, Lebanon; vanda.abiraad{at}


Background Amid the complexities of a healthcare system facing economic collapse, pandemic challenges, a devastating human-made disaster, and critical staffing shortages, effective leadership becomes paramount. This article explores the adaptive leadership approach in the face of unprecedented challenges, drawing from the experiences of a healthcare system in Lebanon.

Methods Anchored in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and guided by the adaptive leadership framework, leaders addressed challenges resulting from the economic crisis, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and a catastrophic explosion in Beirut, which tested the resilience of the healthcare system.

Results Challenges ranged from resource shortages and financial strain to the critical staffing upheaval and psychological impact on healthcare workers. Prioritising physiological, safety, belongingness, self-esteem and self-actualisation needs, leaders implemented innovative strategies, including volunteer mobilisation, recruitment plans, makeshift clinics and psychological support. Transparent communication, self-esteem recognition and fostering resilience emerged as crucial components.

Conclusion The article provides insights into the practical application of adaptive leadership and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in navigating multifaceted crises within a healthcare setting. It underscores the significance of fostering resilience, prioritising the well-being of healthcare professionals and leveraging innovative solutions to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality care amid unprecedented challenges.

  • clinical leadership
  • health system
  • organisational effectiveness
  • strategy

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.

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  • Contributors All three authors, MA, MJH and VYK, made equal and substantial contributions to the conception, design and writing of this article. Each author participated in drafting and revising the manuscript, providing intellectual input and approving the final version for submission.

  • 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.