Leading Under the Pressure of the Pandemic

Leaders are known by the influence they leave on the communities they serve and the staff they lead. When faced with adversity, the skills as a leader will be challenged beyond what can be imagined. In the last few months, leaders have been pushed to the limits as the COVID-19 virus became the forefront of all human life.

What is known for sure, is that the face of leadership as we know it will never be the status quo after the current pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to unfold, leaders have to successfully create strategic planning to address such a massive undertaking of first understanding COVID-19, and how to meet the needs of their staff.

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Today we reflect on the leadership of Social Work Chief, Bobette Hart-Nelms who reigned as an influential leader during these perilous times. Bobette has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 20 years, and in her years of experience, she has worked tirelessly to protect and care for her staff as well as the veterans they served. Bobette understood immediately that social workers would be one of the many professions considered “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reducing exposure to the virus

Bobette met with her staff and began to work a plan to reduce the episodes of exposure to the virus. Leadership under the face of a crisis can build trust or create barriers. Bobette noted that “it was imperative to make sure staff were supported throughout this entire process, as my social workers have families that they have to take care of as well our Veterans.”

Recognising that your team is human

In times of crisis, everyone should be seen as equal, as a leader. Starting from the point of “we are all in the same place” was the best place to begin with my team to show that yes, we have a job to do, but first, we have to take care of ourselves. As a leader, I start each day by seeing people where they are and recognising that we are all human.

Transparency and cohesiveness

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The recent pandemic has pushed leaders to the limits of their expertise and skillsets. Bobette has successfully led her team of nurses and social workers through the COVID-19 pandemic by creating the platform of transparency and cohesiveness. The true success of leadership remembers the human touch, and that will always be your legacy of how successful you will be as a leader.

About the author – Carmela G. Daniels, LISW-S
Carmela G. Daniels, LISW-S is a Licensed Social Worker with the State of Ohio and is a DSW (Doctorate in Social Work) Candidate with Capella University. She holds a MSW (Masters of Social Work) from Florida International University, BA in Social Work from Capital University and Associates Degree in Mental Health From Sinclair Community College. She is employed with the Department of Veteran Affairs and she has a wide range of professional and clinical experience. Carmela provides individual mentoring and professional coaching, conducts workshops and presentations, as well as public and keynote speaking engagements throughout Ohio. Carmela Daniels is a member of various local and national organizations such as Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Top Ladies of Distinction (TLOD) & Federally Employed Women (FEW). She remains dedicated to working with people from a variety of backgrounds and enhancing the community.