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Helpers of the Healers- Insights for HR and OD Leaders

by The Leadership Development Group

Over the past several months communities around the world have seen their healthcare systems pushed to their limits. As the initial shock to our global physical health begins to wane an important second wave of need is becoming more tangible. As physical distancing continues, many are experiencing isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and other mental health impacts that will result in a potentially overwhelming curve of its own.

HR, OD, and talent leaders tend to play the role of emotional first responder within organizations they serve. At TLD Group we are passionate about supporting HR leaders by creating the space to surface and acknowledge the emotional weight they may be carrying, recognize underlying fears and frustrations, and ultimately create strategies to sustain themselves during this prolonged period of disruption.

On May 28th, TLD Group hosted their first 'Helpers of the Healers' Panel Discussion bringing together Healthcare HR/OD leaders with our panel of expert coaches and consultants to discuss tips on resilience, adaption, leading in times of crisis, and what employees need from HR and leadership. Below our panel of TLD Group senior coaches, Dick Massimilian, MBA, Liz Keever, PCC, MA, and Michele Brown, PCC, share their thoughts and reflections on questions and topics brought to them by the group.

For OD leaders, there’s a lot of anxiety about livelihood.  Leadership development is considered discretionary, and it takes work to keep leadership development on the agenda.  What will happen to our jobs?  How can we ‘up’ the leadership development experience to make greater impact?

Dick: Start from your organization’s bottom-line, business imperatives. What must happen, and by when? What are the critical few business objectives? Articulate them. Then ask, who do our leaders need to be to achieve those objectives? Answer that question, then ask, is that who they are now? If the answer is anything but yes, then the business imperative of supporting those leaders to develop the critical skills needed for the organization to succeed in a critical time will be clear, and will be linked to the business results. That is the path to the L&D function maximizing its impact.

What are the best tactics to bring OD/Talent support to leaders when they don’t see “leadership development” as a top priority or are extra distracted by the disruptions to their daily routine?

Liz: Coaches ask questions that prompt different choices for their clients.  Here’s a coaching question that is appropriate here:  "How else could you think about this? The job of OD/Talent professionals is to develop leaders. The way in which leaders are developed evolves as circumstances change. So, how else could leaders be developed now? Building a trusting relationship by listening more deeply to leaders and attending their meetings to observe where there are opportunities can give us, as OD/Talent professionals, opportunities to offer choices that will be of service. Ask powerful questions about what leaders are experiencing rather than what they need. Ask them how they want things to change and offer choices to them, based on your expertise. That will build a strong relationship and add value to the business.  

There is a lot written about resilience, managing in times of crisis, etc. Based on my work, there is a disconnect to what front line leaders really need. The requests coming from the front are basic management and leadership skills. The organization is exhausted, the approach needs to be simple.  Thoughts on what this might look like?

Michele: We’re living and working in unprecedented times, given the COVID-19 pandemic. When faced with a crisis, the expectation is to “stay calm and carry on”, but that's easier said than done. As front-line leaders, figuring out how to persevere while at the same time helping yourselves and others get through this--personally and professionally takes strong leadership skills and behaviors to manage and lead through a crisis.

During unprecedented and tumultuous times there is no such thing as ‘simple'.  Crisis Management is complex and difficult.  Now more than ever before strong leadership is an essential factor in mobilizing and motivating teams while working remotely, still aiming to achieve the business objectives front line leaders are still ultimately responsible for delivering. For more information on supporting employees please read Michele's 'Leadership Actions to Support Employees in Tumultuous Times'.

Looking for impactful solutions to bolster your workforce through these tumultuous times?

View TLD Group's Coaching Solutions here

About the Panelists


Richard MamillionRichard D. Massimilian, MBA

Dick consults to CEOs and C-Suite leaders of publicly and privately held companies, many of whom are currently in crisis. He operates from a pragmatic, and optimistic point of view, neither minimizing the current threats nor denying the need to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Dick has an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Political Science from Yale. He is a former Wharton Public Policy Fellow and serves an adjunct faculty in the Masters of Organization Development and Leadership Program at St. Joseph's University.


Liz KeeverLiz Keever, PCC, MA

Liz was one of the pioneer designers of virtual team development programs for IBM.  She has deep experience in the virtual development arena and her work in the use of video communication for leaders has been featured in research papers around the world. Liz served as adjunct faculty at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies in the department of Leadership and Human Capital Management where she taught courses in Executive Coaching, Transformational Leadership and Teambuilding to business professionals and graduate students.  


Michelle BrownMichele Brown, PCC

As a Certified Emotional Intelligence Specialist for many years, Michele uses her knowledge of emotional intelligence to equip leaders with the insights they need to motivate, engage and support their teams during trying times. She has coached and trained executives and senior managers in the fields of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, media, telecommunications, wealth management, legal, accounting, manufacturing, consumer goods, healthcare and non-profit with organizations across the US, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Canada. Michele helps managers’ leverage their emotional intelligence not only to escape tricky situations, but also potentially turn them into opportunities.

Topics: Leadership Resources, Mindfulness