This article presents five challenges public health leaders face related to COVID-19 and discusses approaches to overcoming them.
Effective public health leaders are needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted by the author, communication is the best tool public health has to combat COVID-19 because even the best strategies will fail if not communicated effectively by leaders. Communicating effectively involves regular, transparent communication with both external partners and the public as well as internal partners determining responses. Besides effective communication, another important task is decision making. Knowing who and when to make decisions is important, especially when facing so much ambiguity. Third, leaders must lead up, down, and across. It is important to remember the human factors in this emergency and lead with a clearly articulated mission to all stakeholders. Fourth, leaders need to plan for what is next, not just responding to what is now. Strategic foresight and planning are essential for adaptive leadership to be effective at moving beyond the day-to-day operations. Finally, leaders need to care for themselves by resting, recharging, and refreshing themselves before they can care for others. Although it may be complicated leading during COVID-19, the challenges are not new. Leaders just need to adapt their evidence-based strategies to the size and scale of this pandemic.