The COVID-19 pandemic brings huge challenges to the delivery of health care in Aotearoa, and on those providing leadership across the Health & Disability sector. Leadership during this time will be demanding and stressful, members of your teams may be fearful and anxious, requiring reassurance and facts to understand the complex issue of COVID-19. 

This page provides useful information to support leaders in their roles through maintaining their own wellbeing in times of crisis, enabling them to care for the teams they work with. Click the + symbol to expand each section.

  • Leadership in a crisis

    A very brief introduction to teaming (The King's Fund)

    The response to COVID-19 has meant people who may not usually work together – or even know each other – are coming together to tackle complex and urgent challenges. This is a one-page guide from The King's Fund on forming new effective teams in complex everyday work.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19): Leadership resources for times of crisis (Center for Creative Leadership)

    This website provides tools to support leadership in organisations in times of crisis, while preparing for future opportunities.

    COVID-19 in New Zealand and the impact of the national response: a descriptive epidemiological study (The Lancet)

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand implemented graduated, risk-informed national supression measures aimed at disease elimination. This article investigates the impacts of the epidemiology of the first wave of COVID-19 in NZ and response performance measures.

    COVID-19 transmission in hospitals: management of the risk – a prospective safety investigation (Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch)

    This prospective patient safety investigation of the NHS in England loooks at how the health care system operates to minimise the likelihood of patients catching coronavirus on acute hospital wards.

    How you see problems can change what is possible (The King's Fund)

    Understanding and making sense of the world around us has a profound impact on our goals, plans and actions. Humans develop 'cognitive frames' that enable the ability to scan and filter the mass of information encountered every day and identify what is useful and relevant. Practical tools and resources are provided to assist with framing.

    Leading in a crisis starts with acknowledging your own feelings (The King's Fund)

    Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, leadership consultants at The King’s Fund have continued to coach and consult with leaders across health and social care. This article includes experiences shared by leaders through the crisis.

    Maintaining motivation in uncertain times (The King's Fund)

    This article is based on William Bridges’ model of psychological transition which helps people as they realise that the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear and that we’re in this for the long haul. When the future is uncertain, and it’s difficult to plan even a holiday, this can be tiring, demotivating and team morale may suffer. This article helps people to understand what it means to grapple with change and live with uncertainty.

    Making decisions in difficult circumstances (The King's Fund)

    A three-minute video from the King's Fund about how leaders can make decisions in difficult circumstances during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, including recognising and overcoming 'decision inertia'.

    Reset your organization for the post-COVID future with creative leadership (Center for Creative Leadership)

    This article offers guidance to help leaders understand some of the most important things they should be doing in the near future. The advice falls into three broad actions: take care of your people, take care of the future, and take care of key stakeholders.

    Responding to COVID-19 - Lessons from Healthcare Research (158KB, pdf) (New England Journal of Medicine)

    This article outlines five actions that should be taken by health care leaders: put people first, manage operations creatively, attend to teamwork and communication, create outside partnerships, and embrace clear and humble leadership.

    The most difficult thing I have done in my life: reflections on leading through COVID-19 (The King's Fund)

    An experienced coach and consultant who specialises in supporting and developing senior professionals shares emotional responses from experienced senior leaders during COVID-19 in the UK.

    The nurturing role of leaders: Dr Navina Evans (The King's Fund)

    This video features Dr Navina Evans, chief executive of the East London NHS Foundation Trust, talking about the importance of nurturing as a leader.

    Why is leadership important right now? Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer, NHS (The King's Fund)

    The King's Fund talks to Prerana Issar, the Chief People Officer for the NHS to ask her why leadership is so important during the COVID-19 crisis. Prerana also discusses important points about leading teams during crisis situations.

  • Supporting your team

    3DHB staff welfare and wellbeing tips (Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs)

    One page guides from 3DHBs with tips on a variety of topics.


    Achieving sustainable change: Capturing lessons from COVID-19 (Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors)

    This guide from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors is to help people working in the health and social care ecosystem capture valuable practice and improvements made during their response to COVID-19.

    Bouncing back – the theory and practice of addressing health care backlogs post-COVID-19 (Health Quality & Safety Commission)

    In this first in a series of short, rapid-fire health quality intelligence papers, the Health Quality & Safety Commission raises the question of our national response to the consequences of measures to contain and eliminate COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand, in particular that of the gathering backlog of scheduled or elective work.

    COVID-19: Peer Support and Crisis Communication Strategies to Promote Institutional Resilience (Annals of Internal Medicine)

    This short article from John Hopkins University Hospital in the USA outlines principles for leaders supporting health care workers through the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a short video clip explaining the principles.

    COVID-19: Risks to health care workers and their families: Mistakes made in the first wave must not be repeated in the second (BMJ)

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, health workers have shown resilience and professional dedication despite the risk of becoming infected and infecting others. This article reports robust and concerning findings regarding the risks of COVID-19 among health workers and their households.

    Creating space for conversations (The King's Fund)

    The King’s Fund have developed some suggestions for having virtual conversations – based on their work with leaders involved in the COVID-19 planning response – to help people collectively download what’s happening for them, stay connected to each other and provide a space to think together about how best to lead.

    Finding solutions in complex situations (The King's Fund)

    The King's Fund talks to Ian Bullock, chief executive of the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, about finding solutions in complex situations.

    Guidance for planners of the psychosocial response to stress experienced by hospital staff associated with COVID: early interventions (The King's Fund)

    This guidance document is intended to inform planners, managers and team leaders of the organisational and psychological processes which are likely to be helpful, or unhelpful, in supporting staff during the early stages of the response to COVID-19. It is collated from research, best practice guidelines and expert clinical opinion and produced by the COVID trauma response working group trauma group UK.

    How are you doing? – 5 questions (leadership during times of crisis) (Patient Safety Learning Hub)

    This short video talks about five questions leaders should be asking to support their team during COVID-19.

    How to do 'learning' in practice (The King's Fund)

    This article explores how to learn from our COVID-19 experiences to collectively process and recover, and guide our activities in response to whatever may come next.

    How to talk about COVID-19 (The Workshop)

    Developed in New Zealand, this guide supports leaders to develop specific COVID-19 communications, supporting good decision-making and collective action.

    Leading virtual meetings – top tips (The King's Fund)

    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. Here are some hints and tips on working virtually adapted from Zoom and from the research of Ghislaine Caulat (2012).

    Looking after colleagues during the COVID-19 crisis (The King's Fund)

    A short three-minute video with Michael West, Visiting Fellow at The King's Fund, about why compassion is key to looking after colleagues in the health and care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Managing teamwork in the face of pandemic: evidence-based tips (British Medical Journal Quality & Safety)

    This article from the BMJ Quality & Safety offers evidence-based recommendations to help health care teams working directly with patients during COVID-19 and in potential future crises. Tips are included for both leaders and members of teams, as well as for management who support or oversee clinical teams.

    Mental health and psychosocial support: what is stress? (WHO)

    A short resource from WHO for front line staff on managing stress.

    Mental health symptoms in a cohort of hospital health care workers following the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK (BJPsych Open)

    The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a significant increase in mental health disorders in health care workers. This paper evaluates the rates of anxiety, depressive and post-traumatic stress disorder in a population of health care workers in the UK.

    RapidCheckTM (546KB, pdf) (Cognitive Institute)

    RapidCheckTM from the Cognitive Institute is a simple five step briefing and debriefing tool leaders can use to ensure staff are aware, understand and are coping with the rapid changes around them.

    Responding to stress experienced by hospital staff working with COVID-19 (The King's Fund)

    Drawing on research, best practice guidelines and expert clinical opinions, The King's Fund's COVID trauma response working group has created rapid guidance for planners putting in place psychological support for staff in the early stages of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. This graphic is a quick reference version of the detailed guidance available on the website.

    Responding to the COVID-19 crisis: Professor Don Berwick (The King's Fund)

    In this video from The King's Fund, Don Berwick talks about how leaders can take care of themselves and their teams during this crisis. He stresses the importance of tending to your own health, wellbeing and energy and urged leaders to continue to exchange ideas and support, leading with confidence and honesty.

    The importance of psychological safety – Amy Edmonson (The King's Fund)

    As a leader how can you foster a work environment where people feel safe to speak up, share new ideas and work in innovative ways? Amy Edmonson explains why psychological safety at work is so important and what leaders can do to create it.

    The path from crisis (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce via

    This article contains a good framework for assessing new COVID-19 practices and whether we should end or amplify them, and pre-COVID-19 practices that we should stop or restart. Written in the UK, it asks these questions in terms of a UK-based socio-cultural and political context.

    Wellbeing and team performance webinar series (Cognitive Institute)

    This on-demand webinar series focuses on insights and techniques to sustain physical and mental wellbeing and team performance through COVID-19 and beyond. It is suitable for clinicians and clinical leaders. The webinars share practical evidence-based strategies including RapidCheck™, a new operational team briefing and debriefing tool leaders can use to maintain maximum performance and ensure staff are aware, understand and are coping with the rapid changes around them. Watch the series in your own time and share with your colleagues.



Videos from leaders in health care

We have had several health care providers in leadership roles record short videos on how they have been supporting their organisation, their teams and their own wellbeing in preparation for COVID-19. They have considered their leadership through the resilient health care approach of anticipating, responding, monitoring and learning during this complex and challenging time.

Pharmacy leadership during COVID-19 (Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group)

In this three-minute video Aarti Patel, general manager of the Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group, talks about pharmacy leadership during COVID-19.

Experience in primary care during COVID-19 (Hilary Morrish-Allen, Pihanga Health)

Hilary Morrish-Allen is the practice manager at Pihanga Health, a small rural general practice at the top of Taupō-nui-a-Tia (Lake Taupō). Hilary reflects on the challenges for primary care during COVID-19; elements for team work in a changing environment and the importance of community collaboration. 'Local solutions to local problems was critical,' Hilary says.

Jane O'Malley

Dr Jane O’Malley, chief nurse at Whānau Āwhina Plunket, talks about her experience co-leading Plunket during the global COVID-19 pandemic; the challenges the team had to navigate and creating a new virtual service in just two weeks. Their focus was on prioritising those with highest needs. Now we are moving to COVID-19 alert level 1, they are evaluating the impact and future model.

Helen Rook

Helen Rook, registered nurse and senior lecturer school of nursing, midwifery and health practice reassures nurses that they are well equipped to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rachel Prebble

Rachel Prebble is the organisation development manager at Capital & Coast District Health Board (DHB) and a clinical psychologist. She is leading the staff welfare and wellbeing response to COVID-19 for Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs. Rachel is working from home at the moment and presents her video from the garden outside her home in sunny Pukerua Bay.

Dr Carl Horsley

Dr Carl Horsley is an intensivist in the Critical Care Complex at Middlemore Hospital, and the clinical lead for patient safety at the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

He is an active member of the Resilient Healthcare Network (RHCN) and has presented widely on topics which include the medicolegal barriers to Safety-II, effecting change in complex systems, the implications for clinical simulation and the links between complexity and staff burnout. In this video, Carl talks about what COVID-19 means for the way we normally do our work.

Catherine Epps

Catherine Epps, head of health and technical services at Worksafe, talks about how she has been leading a resilient health care approach at Worksafe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated 05/02/2021