Leading through Covid-19: supporting health and care leaders in unprecedented times

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The health and care system in the United Kingdom is facing a huge challenge, placing enormous pressure on health and care staff with unprecedented demands on leaders, wherever they work.

These pages aim to provide support to health and care leaders, whether you are working in the NHS, social care, public health or the voluntary and independent sector. We want to ensure this is practical, helpful and works for you. So please use the form below to tell us how we can help. 


Resources and guidance

We're adding new support resources and practical guidance weekly. Below, you'll find content on managing self, working with others and learning from experience

We're supporting leaders and teams during this time through organisational development too.

Managing self


Coping with divergence: opening up, but not for all

Health and care staff are experiencing a range of emotions as lockdown lifts. How can leaders support staff through this next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic? (3-minute read)


Self care and resilience during Covid-19

We spoke to Fatima Khan-Shah, Patient Leader and Partnership Lead for the Unpaid Carers Programme, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, about why it's so important to prioritise self care during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis. (3-minute video)


Responding to the Covid-19 crisis: Don Berwick

We spoke to Don Berwick to ask him how leaders can take care of themselves and their teams during this crisis. (3-minute video)


Managing anxiety over loss

What are you afraid of losing as the pandemic unfolds? We have summarised four strategies for surviving and managing our anxiety about loss, which may be useful to you and your teams. (4-minute read)


Boredom and what it can do for you

While many people are working at full stretch during the current crisis, some people may be experiencing boredom. But what does this feeling tell us and how could we use it to good effect? (3-minute read)


Making decisions in difficult circumstances

We spoke to Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Chief Fire Officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, about how leaders can make decisions in difficult circumstances during the Covid-19 crisis. (3-minute video)


Finding solutions in complex situations

We asked Ian Bullock, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Physicians, about how leaders can find solutions in complex situations. (2-minute video)


Managing your energy

The practice of restorative self-care among leaders is hugely important for sustaining energy and building resilience in the weeks and months ahead. (3-minute read)


Heroic leadership: the order of the day?

Leadership is about relationships, not being a superhero. We've set out five key points to keep in mind that can help support you and your team to retain your collective strength. (3-minute read)


Managing anxiety: breathing

At a time when many leaders and clinical staff are under enormous pressure, taking time to notice and reflect on your own breathing can help to anchor you in your leadership role. (3-minute read)


The space to think

At a time of immense pressure on both the health and care system and on individuals – and when everything is changing so fast – how can you find space to think about how you are leading? (3-minute read)

Working with others


Supporting others through loss

By supporting colleagues through their experiences of loss, we can help to build important relationships for the future. (3-minute read)


The importance of psychological safety

We spoke to Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, about the importance of psychological safety in health and care. (3-minute watch)


Maintaining motivation in uncertain times

As teams and individuals experience change as a result of Covid-19, we look at how leaders can support teams to stay motivated and move forward. (3-minute read)


The nurturing role of leaders

We spoke to Dr Navina Evans, Chief Executive of the East London Foundation Trust, about the importance of nurturing as a leader. (2-minute video)


Leading teams virtually

Leading a team virtually presents new challenges, even for seasoned leaders. Here we look at some ideas for building and strengthening virtual teams. (4-minute read)


Leading in a crisis starts with acknowledging your own feelings

We have been listening to leaders across the health and care system about their experiences during the Covid-19 crisis. Here we look at how people feel as result of these experiences and how acknowledging these feelings can help people regain strength and focus. (4-minute read)


Creating space for conversations

When people are stressed and anxious, creating a shared, safe space to keep thinking and to maintain and develop relationships with colleagues is important. We have developed some suggestions for having virtual conversations. (3-minute read)


The importance of teaming in health and care

We spoke to Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, about the importance of teaming in health and care. (2-minute video)


Looking after colleagues during the Covid-19 crisis

We spoke to Michael West, Visiting Fellow at The King's Fund about why compassion is key to looking after colleagues during the Covid-19 pandemic. (3-minute video)


A brief introduction to teaming

Covid-19 has meant people who don’t know each other are coming together to tackle complex and urgent challenges. How can people work together and support each other effectively in these circumstances? (3-minute read)


Leading virtual meetings – top tips

Leading virtually can seem challenging, but a few basic technical and human skills will help you to engage with colleagues and ensure your virtual meetings are productive. (4-minute read)


Why is leadership important right now?

We spoke to Prerana Issar, the Chief People Officer for the NHS, to ask her why leadership is so important during the Covid-19 crisis. (5-minute video)


Disability and solidarity during Covid-19

In this video, Clare Bonetree, a disabled artist and activist based in Manchester, shares how she organised a group of disabled people to discuss and share their skills and expertise in how to maintain their wellbeing during lockdown. (3-minute video)

Learning from experience


How to do ‘learning’ in practice

How can leaders enable the development of a learning culture? Here, we share four tips for learning from the experiences of the first months of Covid-19. (4-minute read)


Responding in a crisis: reflections of a director of public health

Responding to the Covid-19 crisis has been a cycle of understanding, reviewing, adapting, taking action – and starting again. How can leaders respond to this challenge? (4-minute read)


Leading across the social care system during Covid-19

We spoke to Sharon Allen, Chief Executive at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, about how they've been managing across the system during the pandemic. (4-minute video)


Creating space for compassion, empathy and learning

It’s time to re-think our ideas about leadership and adopt learning cultures that will lead to better care and a fairer society, says Sam Allen, CEO of Sussex Partnership Trust.


Reflections on leading through Covid-19

Health services have changed beyond recognition in response to the Covid-19 crisis. How do we capture the learning from these changes? (2-minute read)


The role of pharmacists during Covid-19

We spoke to Nadia Bukhari, Academic Pharmacist, UCL, about the role of pharmacists during Covid-19.


Leadership and social justice in social care

James Bullion discusses the key tools that can be used to help tackle social justice issues in the social care sector. (6-minute video)


Leading in isolation during Covid-19

Lesley Flatley reflects on her experiences of leading in isolation, as a manager in an independent care home, during the Covid-19 crisis. (4-minute read)


Collaboration in a crisis

The Covid-19 crisis has meant multiple organisations working together to address a shared challenge. But how can we become better at cross-sector co-ordination? (3-minute read)


How the health system in New Zealand responded to Covid-19

We spoke to Sue Nightingale, Chief Medical Officer at Canterbury District Health Board, about how the health system in New Zealand has responded to Covid-19. (2-minute video)


Discipline and agility in a crisis

In a time of crisis, it is common to rely on command and control management approaches. So, how can we move away from this to create systems that combine both discipline and agility when responding to extreme events?  (4-minute read)


Adapting to changing circumstances

When the world is changing, how can leaders help their teams to adapt to changing circumstances? We hear from Don Berwick. (2-minute video)


Responding to Covid-19: reasons for hope

John James OBE, chief executive of the Sickle Cell Society, reflects on the challenges the organisation has faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and shares what he has learnt and what gives him hope for the future. (2-minute read)


Creating a common purpose and a supportive culture

We spoke to Jatinder Harchowal, Director of Pharmacy at London’s Nightingale Hospital, about creating a common purpose and a supportive culture. (3-minute video)


Leading council efforts through Covid-19

More than one million workers in more than 400 councils have been helping to keep essential services running across UK during the Covid-19 crisis. Here, 15 council leaders share their top tips for leading in this challenging time. (4-minute read)


Supporting leaders through the Covid-19 outbreak

Richard Murray explains how, through these pages, The King’s Fund and others are aiming to provide support to health and care leaders and how we'll be guided by what you tell us is needed. (2-minute read)



Responding to stress experienced by hospital staff working with Covid-19

We have developed a graphic as a quick reference version of the guide created by the COVID Trauma Response Working Group. (4-minute read)


Resources supporting our mental health and wellbeing

We have brought together some resources providing practical tools and information to support the mental health and wellbeing of health and care workers during the Covid-19 crisis. (3-minute read)


What challenges are health and care leaders facing?

Responding to Covid-19 (93922) Deborah Fenney and Lillie Wenzel reflect on what heath and care leaders have told The King’s Fund about the challenges they are currently facing and outline how we’re using this to shape our Leading through Covid-19 resources. (3-minute read)


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