As Pandemic Persists, Health Care Heroes Beginning To Crack Under The Strain”
NPR, Weekend Edition, August 22, 2020
In August 1914 soldiers, almost all of whom were volunteers, marched off to war in high spirits. The bands were playing and the ladies threw flowers and blew kisses. The men had been promised that they would be home by Christmas.
In November 1918, the survivors trudged home exhausted and broken in spirit.
In 1914, it was easy to “motivate the troops.” By 1918 that challenge was much more daunting.
When the COVID-19 pandemic exploded on the scene early last spring, we honored frontline heroes. Healthcare workers made signs saying “we got this” and celebrated each COVID-19 patient as they were discharged from the hospital. People found creative workarounds to make due in the face of severe shortages of personal protective equipment.
As the crisis has dragged on, and brought in its wake severe economic challenges and social disruption, the “we got this” spirit is flagging. When I speak with healthcare leaders now, the two words I most often hear them use to describe their people are anxious and exhausted.
This is the time when inspiring leadership is most important. It is also the time when it is hardest.
In his classic book The True Believer Eric Hoffer wrote that any leader who would change the world, or a corner of the world, must know how to spark and fan “an extravagant hope.”
Beginning with themselves.
Sparking and fanning “extravagant hope” is not something that is taught in school. In my four years of graduate business school I never heard words like courage and perseverance in the classroom. I doubt you did either.
That’s why I’ve created the video series Everyday Courage for Extraordinary Times, which will launch on September 14. Watch upcoming editions of Spark Plug for details. For now, here’s a 6-minute introductory video: