It’s been said that the mark of a true leader isn’t how he or she acts when things are going well, but how they act when the going gets tough.

In an Emergency Department, the going certainly can get tough.

Within your ED team, whether you’re a doctor or administrator, knowing how to react will prevent the situation from becoming even more problematic. Here are some leadership tips to begin incorporating into these difficult situations:

1. Never take things personally 

Circumstances and situations don’t always play out logically for a variety of reasons. Your role as a leader is to remain calm without getting defensive or thinking that you have to justify your every action.

By taking things personally, it’s harder to maintain your composure and makes it harder for others to believe that you have things under control.

2. Be decisive 

Leaders who are decisive speak with confidence, conviction, and authority – even if they don’t have the right answer, yet. Decisiveness gives members of your team reassurance that everything is under control.

3. Always be communicating

It’s dangerous to assume that your team understands everything that’s going on, even if they’re in the middle of it. Being clear, and communicative, about every step and solution being implemented is vital. Stress levels escalate when people don’t understand what’s going on or why.

4. The best leaders are prepared

While you might not have the right answer or solution right away if you’re a great leader you know where to look. While it’s important to be able to think on your feet, having a plan in place for when things get tough is extremely helpful.

5. Accept responsibility

Good leaders are ready to take the blame if something goes wrong. It can be easy to pass the buck – and the blame – over to someone else, but it’s essential that you accept responsibilitywhen you make mistakes.

6. Be personal

If you truly want to lead people, they need to know that you care about them on a personal level. Maintain a personal connection with everyone on your team – not just the most “important” members – because it helps ensure that they’ll be with you when times get tough.

7. Follow the leader(s)

Learning from the successes of others is always a great step to take when you’re trying to improve yourself. That certainly applies to leadership, and emulating other leaders who’ve had success in good times and bad can motivate you to work at your top potential.

8. Be fair (but tough)

There’s nothing wrong with holding your employees to the same high standard that you hold yourself. However, it’s important to remember that everyone is human and you can’t expect the impossible out of everyone else.

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