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It was a year no leader will forget.

Health and wellbeing were (and remain) at the forefront of most people’s minds, as they looked to the world’s leaders and experts to navigate the local, national and international challenges brought about by the COVID pandemic. Many critical decisions were made through 2020 in response to the pandemic: social distancing, school closures, travel restrictions, redeployments, state support, rapid investments in new technologies and opportunities, immediate withdrawals from existing processes and routines. The list can go on.

The decisions made all had the potential to affect the lives and livelihoods of millions, likely billions, of people. Right or wrong, these were not decisions that would have been taken lightly.

In a previous blog, we invited readers to consider what effective leadership means. Here, we invite readers to pause and consider the process of making good leadership decisions during these challenging times. Specifically, we invite our readers to reflect and consider: How those decisions may have been taken? Why were they taken? What efforts could be taken to ensure the decisions were the right decisions? How leaders evaluate and respond to the impact of those decisions?

Many difficult questions and so far, few answers. We welcome your thoughts and reflections.


Sean Heneghan is a Chartered Organisational Psychologist and Senior Tutor at the University of Oxford.

Kamal R. Mahtani is a GP, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, and Director of the MSc in EBHC Systematic Reviews.

Both authors lead the University of Oxford Evidence-Based Healthcare Leadership Programme.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this commentary represent the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the host institution, the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. The views are not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Competing interests: None declared