Lifting Up Leaders When They Need It Most

By Aubrey Wiete

Pramod Reddy, MD, director, Pediatric Urology

Leadership can be difficult in the best of times. In a crisis, it is that much harder – and that much more important. It is why Cincinnati Children’s is focused on providing leaders with the skills and support they need to be successful through a new program called "Leadership Lifts."

This new initiative is for leaders at every level of the organization, focused on helping them start by taking care of and understanding themselves. Virtual sessions will be held throughout May and June, each focusing through a different lens of leadership: Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading the Institution.

Since mid-March, information has shifted frequently and changing work environments, responsibilities, and schedules have created a myriad of challenges that every leader must navigate with his or her team. Vicky Hickey, a clinical director on A3N, knows that clear and consistent communication is a lifeline for her staff. “The course changes daily as we learn more about COVID-19 and how to best care for not only patients and families, but especially our frontline caregivers. Keeping everyone abreast of the changing information, care algorithms, and workflows is a constant and overwhelming challenge,” she said.

Simultaneously, the fabric of society is being expanded. The separation of work and home have collapsed with many of our colleagues sharing their houses—and sometimes new workspaces—with young children, spouses, pets, and extended family members. Beyond that, we are being asked to distance ourselves from our friends, families, colleagues, and support networks, the impact of which continues to reverberate and resonate with Dave Krier, vice president of Access Services and Family Relations.

“The physical distance that now separates us has highlighted our human need for connection with one another," he said. "As a leader, it is incumbent upon me to create spaces for our teams to authentically and vulnerably share with one another the challenges and successes of a ‘new normal.’”

Echoing this sentiment is Pramod Reddy, MD, division director of Pediatric Urology. “It is during a crisis that true leadership is needed and that great leadership stands out. When I think about the expectations for myself and my staff, it’s trust. In the face of the changes to work lives and our home lives, our actions to contain this virus are predicated on our imperative mission: we must enhance the trust we have in each other.”

Helping every leader define and aspire to greatness is one of the goals of "Leadership Lifts." Each session is designed to explore what it means to be a Cincinnati Children’s leader and how to use specific leadership techniques, build capabilities to leverage strengths, and create a safe space for leaders to share stories and practices to lift each other up with human connection. “The human spirit is beautiful and cannot be easily broken,” Reddy added. “This resilience will guide us as we emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before.”

Dave Krier, vice president, Access Services

Helping every leader define and aspire to greatness is one of the goals of "Leadership Lifts."

The leadership stakes have never been higher—and proudly, Cincinnati Children’s leaders have never stepped up more. “Time and again throughout this situation, our colleagues have demonstrated a deep sense of compassion for one another and a spirit of empathy and appreciation,” Krier remarked. Cincinnati Children’s has focused on ensuring employees have career and financial stability so they are able to focus on fighting this virus together and celebrating the accomplishments of colleagues through eCards and CenterLink Shout Outs, among many other things.

“This pandemic has created synergy, enhanced teamwork, and narrowed the gap between our senior leaders and frontline clinical staff,” Hickey shared. “Difficult times have the unique ability to bring us all together. Safer apart has managed to support the Cincinnati Children’s effort to be SaferTogether!”

"Leadership Lifts" is just one way the medical center is helping leaders at all levels of the organization find the time, support, and expertise they need to continue to serve their teams. “COVID-19 has turned life upside down in ways we never imagined. This program reminds us that leadership starts with ourselves,” Nerissa Morris, senior vice president and CHRO, said. “It is about creating intentional space and community so leaders can learn from experts and each other about the best ways to tackle the challenges in front of them.”

"Leadership Lifts" will debut the last week of May. All managers will receive communication about how and where to register and participate through the Manager Update section of the "Connect Daily News." For additional questions or information, please visit the COVID-19 manager page.

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