Acting on F.A.I.T.H. in Times of Crisis

At the 2019 International Association of Emergency Managers conference, I gave a talk on “Keeping the F.A.I.T.H. when You’re It!” The talk described five concepts people and organizations use to lead through times of crisis.

As the whole community leans into supporting COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, we’re seeing leaders and organizations act on F.A.I.T.H. As this situation continues to evolve, the five concepts  endure:

  1. Fellowship – “Social distancing is not the end of social cohesion.” This quote was raised on a call that consisted of nearly 250 emergency managers, all of whom were processing the impacts of the COVID-19 response for medically fragile and socially vulnerable populations (access the recording here). An examples of an effort looking to strengthen social cohesion is Team Rubicon’s (TR) neighbors helping neighbors initiative. Team Rubicon is one of the many National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster offering support to impacted people and communities.

  2. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) – Currently, people are taking action by focusing on current assets (as opposed to deficits) as the United States works toward a shared goal: flattening the curve. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Healthcare Ready are examples of organizations leading across silos to support near term and long term decision making.

  3. Integrative Thinking – Leaders around the world are working to find a balance between tensions caused by two opposing ideas. Instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, creative approaches that include elements of both ideas.

    It’s important to consider the tensions between the equity implications and legal and policy considerations of each decision, and the desire to reach a new “normal” as we respond to COVID-19 in the United States. For those looking to get in touch with an expert, I invite you to connect with us or check out Operation 50/50: a joint effort by Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security and Women in Global Health. These groups partnered to crowdsource a list of female health security experts working to strengthen global, regional, national, and local capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks.

  4. Transparency – Building and maintaining trust with the public is a crucial factor when navigating times of crisis. Edelman’s Barometer Special Report on COVID-19  explains the essential role of the private sector. According to Edelman’s report, the most credible source for information is employer communications. The World Health Organization and provide clear, concise, actionable, and transparent information for employers and employees to reference.

  5. Humility – In times of crisis, humility and leadership mean embracing uncertainty while actively valuing and verbalizing the strengths of those around you. It’s great to be at a company of leaders with experience in responding to incidents like H1N1 and SARS that are willing to elevate the voices and expertise of others while focusing on our company’s highest point of contribution.

Where do you see keeping the F.A.I.T.H in action? And which of the five principles will you commit to next? For me, these concepts are intertwined in my desire to change the world for good. I hope they provide a helpful framework as you work to build a more resilient community. 

Special note: The EMVision talks series is a very helpful tool for emergency managers and people seeking to make meaning of moments of crisis. Each talk is less than 10 minutes you can access all the 2019 EMVision talks here.

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