The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest global crisis of our lifetimes, and leadership has been critical to societies' capacity to deal with it. Here effective leadership has brought people together, provided a clear perspective on what is happening and what response is needed, and mobilized the population to act in the most effective ways to bring the pandemic under control. Informed by a model of identity leadership (Haslam, Reicher & Platow, 2020), this review argues that leaders' ability to do these things is grounded in their ability to represent and advance the shared interests of group members and to create and embed a sense of shared social identity among them (a sense of "us-ness"). For leaders, then, this sense of us-ness is the key resource that they need to marshal in order to harness the support and energy of citizens. The review discusses examples of the successes and failures of different leaders during the pandemic and organizes these around five policy priorities related to the 5Rs of identity leadership: readying, reflecting, representing, realizing, and reinforcing. These priorities and associated lessons are relevant not only to the management of COVID-19 but to crisis management and leadership more generally.


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Haslam, S., Steffens, N., Reicher, S. & Bentley, S. 2021, 'Identity leadership in a crisis: a 5R framework for learning from responses to COVID-19', Social Issues and Policy Review, 15(1), pp. 35-83. https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12075

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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