COVID-19: Compassionate Leadership in a Crisis

Roger Levin, DDS


Most dentists haven’t studied leadership. It wasn’t taught in dental school, and, prior to now, it hasn’t been essential in operating a successful practice. Those who have studied it may have reached higher levels of success. However, most dentists have had practices that provided a reasonable income for their lifestyle, and leadership training wasn’t deemed necessary.

Fast forward to the COVID-19 crisis. This is a time for compassionate leadership. It is now essential for you to adopt empathy and express compassion in every communication you have with your team and with your patients.

Compassionate communication will be the key to giving patients confidence to return and your team the solidarity and cohesion needed to support your practice recovery. Remember, your team members are an essential part of getting your practice back on track. Regarding your team, here are two key recommendations for leadership communication in a crisis.

Show Compassion

If there was ever a time for compassion, this is it. Most people have never faced adversity of this nature or a crisis with this level of fear. Most people have never been told that they cannot leave their homes. This will be the first time that many of your team members have confronted a challenge like this in their lives. So when communicating, show compassion.

Think of your communication as a sandwich. The main point of the communication will be what is in between the two slices of bread. But the two slices of bread will represent compassion. Open your communication by acknowledging the situation that we are in and wishing everyone safety and health for their families. That’s the top piece of bread. End the communication by telling people that you are available, ready, willing, and able to help them if they have questions. That is the bottom piece of bread. In between, you make your main point. Following this crisis, people will remember who was compassionate and who was considerate.

Be Honest

Share with people what you do know, but also let them know what you don’t know. The truth is that regarding COVID-19, we still don’t know much. If you give people information that turns out to be wrong, it breaks down trust. If you speculate about things that may never happen, it breaks down trust. It creates fear and it damages relationships. Feel free to say the words “I don’t know.”

Communication for a leader in a crisis is different than at other times. Compassion and honesty are the hallmarks of practice leaders who care about their team and appreciate their importance to a strong practice recovery.

Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

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