The Leadership Challenge During a Pandemic

leadership challenge


By Monica Lawson, MBA, RHIA, CRC, CPC, CPC-I

We are living in the challenging, unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet we must somehow continue to perform in a career that we love and cherish as a health information (HI) professional. This means ensuring departmental goals and deadlines are met, staff has support, weekly in-service Zoom meetings and webinars are conducted with limited technical difficulties, and everyone is managing their time efficiently.

To maintain a sense of normalcy, we must demonstrate resiliency, accountability, accuracy, and production in an ever-changing environment—while, in many cases, working from home, with our spouses and kids all fighting for the use of the one room called the “home office.”

Balancing a home-work-life atmosphere requires leadership skills; professionalism when speaking with colleagues to ensure everyone is on board with the duties and tasks and having common courtesy when interacting with family to ensure the home is operating smoothly.

According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, leadership is about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen by providing an experience that consistently delights the targeted audience every single minute of every single day.

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition, Kouzes and Posner write:

“Leadership is not about personality; it is about behavior. To effectively model the behavior expected from others, leaders should be clear about guiding principles by clarifying their values, beliefs, standards, and ethics that drives him or her and stand firm on it. Leaders use their voice to demonstrate beliefs and core values. To act with integrity, you must first know who you are.”

I believe a good leader build relationships. I deem a good leader knows their audience and can simulate an environment that is conducive to inspiring and motivating all to understand the mission in direct alignment with the vision of each goal.

I challenge you to pledge to one, if not all, five of the Leadership Challenge models that enable leaders to deliver value in any situation or circumstance. The five leadership models are: “Model the way” to lead by example; “Inspire a shared vision” to paint a picture; “Challenge the process” through innovation; “Enable others to act” to foster collaboration to build trust; and “Encourage the heart” to celebrate values and victories.

The model that resonates with me is “Inspire a shared vision” because it emphasizes painting a picture of enabling possibilities toward achieving goals. The task is accomplished by knowing your audience—their dreams, hopes, aspirations, visions, and values—and aligning it with the organizational goals. This model requires the skill set to promote dialogues and not monologues. The model “promotes a sense of purpose to establish common ground.”

I challenge you to venture out, away from the norm, to create a paradigm shift. Be a pioneer searching for new opportunities to innovate, grow, develop, and improve processes, especially during these troubling yet hopeful times of COVID-19.

Experiment, be a risk-taker, and provide a level of support in times of uncertainty because leadership is about learning by doing, listening to team members, and learning from failures.

Monica Lawson is a medical coder, auditor, and educator with the passion to empower others to fulfill their dreams.

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