Abstract The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak poses a serious public health risk. To date, the disease has affected almost all countries in the world. The enormous scale of the outbreak and the relative lack of knowledge and information regarding a new virus, as well as the unpredictability of events, make it challenging for leadership teams to respond. This paper shares how we have reconfigured our radiology leadership team into a smaller disease outbreak task force (DOTF) to respond and coordinate all related efforts during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The DOTF format is modelled after the military with domain groups looking at manpower, intelligence, operations, and logistics matters on a daily basis so that timely decisions can be made and action plans executed promptly. In managing the DOTF, discipline, flexibility, and teamwork are key principles, and these are built upon a strong foundation of focus on infection prevention and control, and patient and staff safety as well as staff well-being. The DOTF has positioned us well to confront the many challenges to date. We believe it will also help us navigate the complex issues that will arise with future surges in cases and in formulating strategies to manage exit from the present and future lockdowns. Key Points • In a pandemic, regular and directed meetings by a smaller leadership core group are required, for prompt decision making and execution of action plans. • The military format, with domain groups to look at manpower, intelligence, operations, and logistics matters, is useful in managing a pandemic. • Discipline, flexibility, and teamwork with strong focus on infection prevention and control, and patient and staff safety as well as staff well-being are key principles for leadership teams managing a pandemic.