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Adaptive leadership in the Covid-19 response: navigating crisis and change

Time (GMT +01) 15:00 16:30
Hero image description: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, speaks at a press conference regarding the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in DRC, 2018. Photo: UN Photo/Elma Ok Image credit:Photo: UN Photo/Elma Ok


Sara Pantuliano @SaraPantuliano – Chief Executive, ODI


David Nabarro @davidnabarro – WHO Special Envoy on Coronavirus Response

Ruth Carnall @ruthcarnall – Former Chief Executive, NHS London

Arkebe Oqubay – Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia

Ben Ramalingam @benramalingam – Research Associate, ODI


The ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges to leadership across the world. The pace at which policymakers, practitioners and researchers react to this emerging and complex crisis will make a profound difference to people’s lives and livelihoods. But how can we ensure effective, collective decision-making based on emerging evidence, changing trends and shifting scientific understanding, all in the face of considerable uncertainty?

Recent experience highlights the need for adaptive leadership in national and global responses to the outbreak. This requires adaptive leadership capacities like being open and transparent about learning, using collective decision-making processes and building trust with communities and individuals.

Using ODI’s research on adaptive leadership during the coronavirus response, we discuss practical applications of adaptive responses during the Covid-19 outbreak, bridging science, policy and practice.