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Keeping Up with COVID-19: 5 Leadership Lessons from Lisa LaFontaine

March 31, 2020, The Association

The Association’s Katherine Shenar and HSUS’ Kim Alboum recently checked in with Lisa LaFontaine, CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance, on leadership in the time of COVID-19. “All of the things that we are now called on to do—disaster response, disease control, calming things down when the world throws ‘crazy’ at us we’re already good at,” says LaFontaine. Here are 5 more empowering takeaways from that convo.

Let staff know it’s okay not to be perfect

LaFontaine actively encourages her staff to try out new ideas—and, more importantly, to expect that these ideas will probably need tweaking as the situation changes. “We have to be a little bit forgiving about perfection,” she says.

Ask these three questions when planning or strategizing

What is essential?
What is nice to have?
What can fall off the plate?

Put a working group together (& subgroups if necessary)

Early on as the crisis unfolded, LaFontaine organized daily huddles for her leadership team. When the calls got too unwieldy, she divided the team into subgroups and asked each group to convene around a certain theme and report back. These themes included Operations, Staffing & Financial Resources, People Care, and Animal Welfare Citizenship.

Get out of the trenches

LaFontaine acknowledges that, for most animal welfare EDs and others in executive leadership roles, this one is probably going to be hardest of all—but it’s key to keeping everyone healthy and safe. “I want to be in the trenches with my front-line teams every day and every minute,” she says. “But the reality is, what I do doesn’t require that. It’s hard—but you have to find other ways to connect with your staff that don’t require physical presence and possibly contaminating them.”

Lean in on your colleagues in the field

“Remember that we are part of a generous community,” shares LaFontaine. “You are not alone. We are all fighting the same battle. If you are thinking about making an important change in your operations or services, chances are someone else is thinking about it, too, or they’ve already had to make that change.”

Watch the complete interview here:

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About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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