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  1. Importance of effective communication skills for leadership during a crisis    



    Discuss importance of effective communication skills for leadership during a crisis    



Subject Administration Pages 12 Style APA




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Group Case-Study

            In Dec 2019, a new Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) that was causing a severe acute respiratory syndrome emerged in a place known as Wuhan in Hubei Province in China (Boulos and Geraghty 2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has risen into a global crisis in 2020. The crisis has resulted to closure of schools in Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Italy, and beyond in order to control COVID-19 transmission (Wenham, Smith, and Morgan 2020). COVID-19 outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, and has spread of more than 50 countries. The first case outside China was reported in on Jan 13, 2020 in Thailand. By Jan 31, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as outbreak of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (Amira et al. 2020).

It has limited economic activities and jobs of millions of people globally. Travel restrictions have created uncertainties especially to foreign domestic workers in countries such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore (Wenham et al. 2020). Patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 require hospitalization. In one of the cases of the disease in Australia, a 47-year-old- woman presented to an emergency department in Melbourne, Australia.  She came from Wuhan, Hubei province in China. Before she presented to the emergency department; her symptoms started a about four days earlier with dry cough, sore throat, lethargy, mild dyspnoea, pleuritic  chest pain, and subjective fevers. She had travelled from Wuhan to Melbourne seven days before the presentation. She had no contact with known COVID-19 or seafood market in Huanan. She was a non-smoker and otherwise and taking no medications (Thevarajan et al. 2020). Clinical examination indicated a temperature of 38.5 °C, a pulse rate of 120 beats/minute, respiratory rate of 22 breaths/minute, a blood pressure of 140/80 mmHg, and oxygen saturation of 98% while breathing on room air. Bi-basal rhonchi were revealed by lung auscultation. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus variant-2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detected through real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction from a nasopharyngeal swab (Thevarajan et al. 2020). Consistently, COVID-19 D characterised by symptom such as shortness of breath, diarrhoea, fever, and a cough. In worst case scenarios the disease can cause severe pneumonia and even death. The disease has an incubation period that can last for two weeks or longer. During the latent infection the disease may still be transmitted. SARS-CoV-2 may be transmitted from person-to-person though close contact and exposure to respiratory droplets (Hamzah et al. 2020).

            Effective communication skills are required in order to better manage the pandemic. Currently, there is over-abundance of COVID-19 related information and the outbreak. Some of the available information may not be accurate. It becomes difficult for individuals to find or identify trustworthy and reliable resources and guidance when it is necessary. WHO social media teams and technical risk communication teams been working closely to monitor, respond, and track rumours and myths through WHO headquarters in Geneva (Hamzah et al. 2020).

















Executive Summary

In Dec 2019, a new Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) that was causing a severe acute respiratory syndrome emerged in a place known as Wuhan in Hubei Province in China. Since, then the virus has spread globally and gained has been declared as a pandemic. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the importance of effective communication in leading the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. A review of published sources of evidences indicated that effective communication strategies can help address uncertainties, promote delivery of accurate, timely, reliable and evidence-based information to the public. Besides, it can help in adoption of necessary behaviours such as taking of precautionary measures and avoidance of undesired behaviours such as stockpiling of food and panic-buying.          













            COVID-19 is a fatal respiratory disease that was declared by WHO Jan 31, 2020 as a global pandemic. There is lots of information on COVID-19 that is becoming more difficult to identify which information is coming from trustworthy and reliable sources (Hamzah et al. 2020). Leaders in this epidemic are expected to communicate effectively during the epidemic by being responsive to the media, providing accurate information, being creative and calm, by assigning a single-spokesperson to channel information, and by being factual and quick. The purpose of this paper is to conduct a review of literature to identify and evaluate the importance of effective communication in control and management COVID-19 pandemic. Effective communication skills for leadership during COVID-19 pandemic are important for better control, management, and mitigation of the effects of the pandemic.
Research Question: What is the importance of effective communication leadership skills in COVID-19 pandemic?


            A review of published literature was conducted to identify importance of effective communication skills in leading control and management of COVID-19 pandemic. Information was drawn from secondary sources that included journal articles, authoritative sources, and government statistics. Databases such as EBSCO, Clinical Knowledge Network, Business Source Complete, AUSTHealth, and PubMed databases were explored during the search of relevant and trustworthy information for answering the research question. Search terms that were exploited included effective communication leadership skills AND a crisis; building and maintaining trust AND COVID-19; principles of effective communication AND COVID-19; and effective communication AND COVID-19. Although COVID-19 is recent in origin (2019) and the current healthcare problem sources as that were published as from 2015 onwards were included as part of evidence sources since some information sources on effective communication leadership skills were identified as from 2015. Exclusion criteria included sources published earlier than 2015 and based on relevance to the research question.


                Ten principles of strategic leadership is necessary for effective communication in the time of a crisis. These principles include distribution of responsibility, being honest and open about information, create multiple paths for raising and testing ideas, making it safe to fail, providing access to other strategies, developing opportunities for experience-based learning, hiring for transformation, bringing your whole self to the work, finding time to reflect, and recognizing leadership development as an ongoing practice (Leitch, Lancefield, and Dawson 2019). Apart from application of leadership principles, intercultural communication strategies should be observed in management of the crisis (Croucher, Sommier, and Rahmani 2015). 

The masses are not well informed about COVID-19 (Mohamad and Azlan 2020). Health consumers and the public must be informed on the impending health threat caused by COVID-19. Difficulties in provision of accurate information on COVID-19 is due to uncertainties such as the exact route of transmission, prospects of recovery, treatment of the disease, and the likelihood of survival. Effective communication leadership improves collaboration in a crisis (Hamzah et al. 2020). Scientific based tools and methods should be used in tracking, monitoring and reporting the spread of an infectious disease in an outbreak (Boulos et al. 2020).

            Academic leaders leading the fight against COVID-19 crisis should communicate clearly as well as communicate frequently to all stakeholders, collaborate in decision making, and communicate using a variety of channels. Effective leadership and communication will result in radical change of values, beliefs, and attitudes among various stakeholders (Fernandez and Shaw 2020). Effective leadership communication may slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce impacts of the disease in the society (Nicola et al. 2020). It can also lead to streamlining of workflows for rapid diagnosis of cares and management (Phua et al. 2020). Effective communication is necessary in follow-up of outbreaks, educating the public about precautionary measures, and for elimination of outbreaks in human populations (Heymann and Shindo 2020).

Discussion and Recommendations

Significance of the Study

            The study affirms that effective communication skills for leadership during COVID-19 pandemic are important for achievement of control, management, and mitigation of the effects of the pandemic. COVID-19 is a represents and adaptive and serious challenge that can be best addressed through effective communication, leadership, building of trust relationships, collaboration, and shared leadership in the crisis. These strategies will enable institutions to withstand COVID-19 crisis and to address uncertainties. In addition, effective communication and leadership is known to promote radical changes of stakeholder values, beliefs, and attitudes (Fernandez and Shaw 2020). In addition, effective leadership communication may slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce impacts of the disease in the society. It may also help reduce stockpiling of food and panic-buying behaviours (Nicola et al. 2020). Similarly, effective leadership and communication skills among healthcare personnel will lead to streamlining of processes for rapid diagnosis of cases and isolation, infection prevention, clinical management, and effective management of the staff (Phua et al. 2020). Effective communication is necessary in follow-up of outbreaks, educating the public about precautionary measures, and for elimination of outbreaks in human populations (Heymann and Shindo 2020).

What Can Be Learnt From It

            Outbreaks of pandemic proportions may spread uncontrollably if there is lack of effective communication and leadership. Health care consumers and the public must be provided with trustworthy and reliable information regarding COVID-19. This information includes transmission, aetiology, prospects of recovery, treatment, and the route of transmission. This is because it has been identified that there is a high degree of uncertainty relating to disease route of transmission, likelihood of survival or recovery, and treatment of the infections. Effective communication strategies on COVID-19 should aim to prevent anxiety and avoid amplification of risk perceptions. Accurate and trustworthy outbreak related information should be shared on social media since social media has proved as an effective platform used by the public to obtain outbreak-related information in a quick and simple way. For example, Malaysian Ministry of Health has been using social media since Jan 19, 2020 to educate the public about COVID-19 (Hamzah et al. 2020).   

            Effective communication leadership is necessary for promoting collaboration in a crisis. The WHO coordinates with other partners in various countries to improve pandemic-associated communication as well as to respond to community engagement. To ensure that there is people-centered response to COVID-19, the WHO has collaborated with global response agencies such as the International Federation of Red Cross, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the Red Crescent Societies to coordinate various biomedical recommendations (Hamzah et al. 2020). In the United States academic leadership and efforts directed towards the fight of COVID-19 include collaboration, emotional stability and intelligence among academic leaders, involvement and empowerment of academic leaders, and distribution of leadership responsibilities to improve decision-making. In addition, academic leaders leading the fight against the COVID-19 crisis need to communicate through a variety of channels, communicate frequently and communicate clearly to all stakeholders (Fernandez and Shaw 2020).

Effective communication of information on an infectious disease outbreak should rely on scientific tools and methods. Reliance on science can lead to generation of reliable, accurate and trustworthy information. During the original outbreak of SARS-CoV epidemic of 2002 to 2003 in China geographic information methods and systems, near-real-time mapping, and real-time mapping of cases of the disease as well as social media reactions to the spread of the disease proved to be effective means for understanding the spread, controlling, and managing the disease. Other strategies for generating reliable information include predictive risk mapping, contact tracing, and use of population level data (Boulos, and Geraghty 2020).

Recommendation/Proposals for Future Action for Solving Similar Outbreaks/Improve the Situation

            Principles of strategic leadership including distribution of responsibility, honesty, access to various strategies, and reflection may be relevant in managing COVID-19 pandemic (Leitch, Lancefield, and Dawson 2016). In addition, intercultural communication that draws Social Identity Theory is needed to meet communication needs of diverse peoples, communities and individuals. In addition, leaders should demonstrate intercultural communication competence (Croucher, Sommier, and Rahmani 2015). Intercultural communication is necessary so as to meet people’s belief systems, values, attitudes, behaviours, and address disbelief systems (Issa, Yunusa, and Ali 2015).

All countries, governments, and healthcare agencies should have prepared the existing public-health communication-networks, the media as well as communication engagement staff in readiness to tackle the pandemic. In addition, each county and all governments are expected to have put in place effective responses for managing the epidemic and its various impacts (Hamzah et al. 2020). Collaboration is one of the most effective ways of tackling COVID-19 pandemic. Collaboration and effective communication may lead to effective responses to uncertainties and exertion of creative influence (Fernandez and Shaw 2020). Collaboration at the regional, local, national as well as the international level will improve the chance of survival for the severely ill COVID-19patients (Phua et al. 2020). In future, outbreaks the masses should be informed in a timely manner about the cause of a given disease, how it spreads, and the risk of infection, preventive measures. Besides, adequate measures should be put in place to address disinformation, misinformation, and false news that may spread via the social media (Mohamad and Azlan 2020).


Use of effective communication skills in leading the fight against COVID-19 pandemic is important for better control, management, and mitigation of the effects of the pandemic. It can promote better understanding of the aetiology, route of transmission, treatment, likelihood of recovery, and the spread of the infectious agents. In may also inform adoption of precautionary measures and engagement of all relevant stakeholder in the fight against the pandemic.  Leaders need to address COVID-19 uncertainties and promote improved detection and treatment of cases. 





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Boulos, Maged N. Kamel, and Estella M. Geraghty. “Geographical tracking and mapping of coronavirus disease COVID-19/severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic and associated events around the world: how 21st century GIS technologies are supporting the global fight against outbreaks and epidemics.” International Journal of Health Geographic 19, no. 8 (2020): 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12942-020-00202-8

Fernandez, Antonio Arturo, and Graham Paul Shaw. “Academic Leadership in a Time of Crisis: The Coronavirus and COVID‐19.” Journal of Leadership Studies 14, no. 1 (2020): 39-45. https://doi.org/10.1002/jls.21684 

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Leitch, Jessica, David Lancefield, and Mark Dawson. “10 principles of strategic leadership.” Leadership, May 18, 2016, no. 84 (2016). https://www.strategy-business.com/article/10-Principles-of-Strategic-Leadership?gko=af52a 

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Nicola, Maria, Zaid Alsafi, Catrin Sohrabi, Ahmed Kerwan, Ahmed Al-Jabir, Christos Iosifidis, Maliha Agha, and Riaz Agha. “The socio-economic implications of the coronavirus and COVID19 pandemic: A review.” Int J Surg. 20 (2020): 1-32.

Phua, Jason, Li Weng, Lowell Ling, Moritoki Egi, Chae-Man Lim, Jigeeshu Vasishtha Divatia, Babu Raja Shrestha, Yaseen M. Arabi, Jensen Ng, Charles D Gomersall, Masaji Nishimura, Younsuck Koh, and Bin Du. “Intensive care management of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): challenges and recommendations.” The Lancet 8, no. 5 (2020): 506-517. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30161-2

Thevarajan, Irani, Thi H. O. Nguyen, Marios Koutsakos, Julian Druce, Leon Caly, Carolien E. van de Sandt, Xiaoxiao Jia, Suellen Nicholson, Mike Catton, Benjamin Cowie, Steven Y. C. Tong, Sharon R. Lewin, and Katherine Kedzierska. “Breadth of concomitant immune responses prior to patient recovery: a case report of non-severe COVID-19.” Nature Medicine 26 (2020): 453-455.

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Croucher, Stephen M., Melodine Sommier, and Diyako Rahmani. “Intercultural communication: Where we’ve been, where we’re going, issues we face.” Communication Research and Practice 1, no. 1 (2015): 71-87.  https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2015.1042422

Issa, Abba Auwalu, Muhammad Yunusa, and Fatima Zara Ali. “The meaning and theories of intercultural communication.” ResearchGate Working Paper (June 2015). DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.14026.36806



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