Essential Practices to Respond Effectively in a Crisis

Theresa FerroneBlog

Recently, Mary C. Daly, CEO of the Federal Reserve bank of San Francisco, answered questions about leadership and handling crisis situations.  In response to the question “What would you say are the essential leadership practices required to respond effectively in a crisis?” Daly gave insightful and helpful tips and tactics.  

The first piece of advice she gave is essential: “The most important thing is to remain steady in the boat. Acknowledge the uncertainty, the difficulty, and the pain, and dedicate yourself to doing everything in your power to make things better and bring this to an end.” To be able to remain “steady in the boat” Daly outlined a three-part framework based on what we know, what we can do, and how to do it that is used at the Federal Reserve bank of San Francisco.

  1. What do we know? We’re not medical experts at the San Francisco Fed. But we’re a data-driven organization. So when it comes to figuring out a situation like COVID-19, that’s who we turn to: medical experts. And what we know from the CDC is the importance of “flattening the curve” of the virus through social distancing and staying at home.
  2. What should we do? Flattening the curve takes everyone. So we need to be part of the solution in everything we do. This means helping to limit the spread of the virus in every way we can.
  3. How should we do it? Limit the exposure of our employees and communities. This means leading efforts to telework, shelter in place, and protect essential employees who have to come to work. It also means reaching out to our communities, checking on their needs, and working to broker solutions.

In closing Daly said this about the extended use and need for this framework: “The important thing about leadership and this framework is that it doesn’t stop. You have to revisit it every day to make sure it still fits. Ultimately, the goal is to end each day knowing you were part of the collective solution to putting COVID-19 behind us. The good news about this kind of decision-making framework is that it works all the time, not just in a crisis.”