Leadership in Times of Crisis
Since the start of my career as a young physician, from a battalion surgeon to the Surgeon General of the IDF, I have practiced medicine and learned leadership lessons along the way. In this TedMed talk I hope to share with you some insights based on my experience running the IDF Field Hospital after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for example, and also drawing on the strong organizational culture of leadership in crisis that the IDF Medical Corps has gained by responding to emergencies and disasters all over the world — a collective wisdom of 60 years.
One of the leadership principles I believe in most is to always set the bar higher than what seems possible. Keeping expectations high helps to generate an atmosphere of dedication and encourages people to express their own individual commitment.
The second lesson is to adopt collaboration as a strategy: as leaders, we are obligated to overcome barriers of language and culture, and to find the ways to bridge differences in working procedures and legalities.
The third lesson I discovered is the power of something I like to call “shared leadership.” As a leader, the overall responsibility always remains yours. But sometimes the guidance you need doesn’t come from the top, it comes from the people you lead.
In every humanitarian mission, Israel is a part of an international relief effort and together, with many other nations, we try to do the most we can to support a community of fellow human beings and to provide them a measure of hope. We have had the opportunity to aid more than 30 humanitarian missions including: Kosovo in 1999; Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010; Japan, after the tsunami in 2011; the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda in 2013; deeply collaborating within a small local hospital in Nepal in May 2015; and today, over a hostile border, in special humanitarian operations for victims of the Civil War in Syria.
In each of these very different settings, the same leadership principles held true. I hope you will enjoy hearing the details from my TedMed talk, since I continue to apply them today and they might also be applicable to the challenges you face.
Professor Yitshak Kreiss, a Wexner Israel Fellowship alum (Class 18), is an expert in both military medicine and disaster management and the former IDF Surgeon General. He has treated victims from all around the world, from Kosovo refugees in Macedonia and earthquake victims in Haiti, to serving as the executive authority in the more recent Tsunami in the Philippines (2013) and in the special humanitarian mission for the victims of the civil war in Syria since 2013. Yitshak is currently a Senior Executive in Sheba Medical Centre and an Associate Professor at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine. He can be reached email@example.com.