Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Navigating Dual Crises: An Interview with Anna Ohler, Small Business Manager

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Leadership in Times of Crisis
Today, we had the opportunity to interview Anna Ohler who is a Ownerat Small Business Manager.

Join us in this insightful interview with Anna Ohler, an accomplished Small Business Manager with a diverse background in healthcare management and small business ownership. Anna shares her experiences leading through two contrasting crises—the COVID-19 pandemic in a healthcare setting and managing a plant nursery during the same challenging period. Discover how she successfully ensured the safety of her team and patients while delivering exceptional care, and how she maintained the profitability of her small business amidst uncertainty.

Interviewee Name: Anna Ohler

Company: Small Business Manager

Anna Ohler’s favourite quote: “To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence … When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’” – Lao Tzu, philosopher (I am a strong believer in servant leadership, and this quote captures it perfectly)

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Anna Ohler : Thank you for having me! I am a career manager with over twelve years of experience managing interdisciplinary teams across multiple departments. When I was in college, I didn’t set out to be a manager. However my leadership skills really took over once I was working full time and my future in management was inevitable. My first decade of experience took please in the healthcare realm, managing departments in hospitals, private practices, and laboratory settings. After healthcare, I moved into marketing and small business ownership, assuming management roles in both industries. While every industry has its own challenges, the core principles of leadership and management always stay the same.

Could you please share a specific crisis situation you’ve faced as a leader and walk us through the strategies you employed to navigate through it successfully? What were the key decisions and actions you took, and what were the outcomes or lessons learned from that experience?

Anna Ohler : I managed a private OBGYN practice for the entire duration of the COVID epidemic – while pregnant. Every day was a new scramble to figure out how we would continue operations while also keeping our staff and patients safe. Our local hospital system offered daily lunch webinars where they would share the latest data for our region, and any updates from the CDC or WHO. I created an “A” team and a “B” team who never crossed paths with each other during the first 5 months of the pandemic. We learned how to use telehealth when appropriate, and how to give care to patients who were COVID+ and could not enter the office. I delivered a healthy baby later that year, surrounded by my wonderful team. Not a single person in my office contracted COVID for the first 14 months of the pandemic – something I attribute to excellent training and a fully dedicated team. The top thing I learned while managing during this crisis is to invest in a dedicated team, they will go to bat for you when you go to bat for them.

Simultaneously, I owned and operated a plant nursery with my husband during 2020 as well. The juxtaposition was interesting, because as all my friends were getting laid off from their jobs, I was involved in 2 of the few industries that were actually permitted to stay open during that timeframe (we live in Michigan and had some stricter guidelines on who could/could not stay open). We successfully kept our small business open that year, and the practice I managed had a record year for profitability.

From your observations, what common mistakes or pitfalls have you seen leaders fall into during a crisis?

Anna Ohler : I think it’s really easy to get caught up in stress and drama during a time of crisis. If leaders assume a “but what about me?” attitude, their team will soon follow. During a crisis like the pandemic, when everyone was potentially at risk, it would have been easy for myself or my team to say “no, I don’t want to do that because then I’m at risk”. Instead, my entire team followed our guidelines to a T and helped to ensure our office stayed a safe place to work.

Leaders Perception would like to thank Anna Ohler and Small Business Manager for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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