Surviving and even thriving through a time of leadership change is one of the biggest challenges for school administrators and boards. Maintaining a healthy school culture is hard enough without the dysfunction that creeps into the organization during such transitions.
We posted a new video in our webinar series on, "The Biggest Challenges to Grow," that is focused on how to sustain momentum during the leadership search process. In our R.A.D. Campaign (Radically Against Dysfunction), we've created some practical guidance to help you grow even when the tension and stress are high.
Everyone has heard the stories.
What happens to school administrators and boards during times of transitions are hardly comforting. Reorganizations, revised expectations, reduced head count, career changes for senior leaders--they're all part of the narrative of upheaval.
The FUDs infect faculty and families, as they ask:
- How is this going to impact my work/life?
- How will this change all the progress on planning/accreditation/etc.?
- What if I have to find another school?
- If I stay here, how can I position myself for success?
- How long is this going to take? When will we know?
(You can learn more about the FUDs in the video)
In order to sustain trust and engagement through a leadership change, consider the following four recommendations:
1. Determine why the leadership change is happening
Honest assessment of what triggered the decisions that led to this change will help the board and remaining school leadership determine what improvements can be made to the organizational structure, expectations, and culture. This is an ideal time to learn and acknowledge areas for improvement.
Own it. Learn from it. Fix it.
2. Accurately assess Organizational Health and Context Alignment
A big part of your success is connected to your ability to solve difficult problems through collaboration and discipline. Dysfunctional leadership is unacceptable because of the high stakes involved.
Take a time out. Through a Leadership Retreat you can get an accurate assessment of your Organizational Health, and determine how aligned your leadership is around your Strategic Context. If your future direction is going to be different, then you must face the facts on where you are today.
3. Sustain Relationships: Create a Communication Protocol and Plan
Sustaining engagement should be your top priority! The school can't go into neutral while decisions are made. The calendar is unyielding with key deadlines for enrollment, employee coaching and feedback, budgets, contracts, etc.
Communicate with discipline. Define your Sequence, Frequence, and Flow, and then create a plan that keeps your stakeholders connected. Schools are complex organizations with emotionally bonded relationships that must be nurtured during this period of uncertainty.
4. Sustain Momentum: Define and Achieve Tactical Plans
Keep growing by creating short-term tactical initiatives that continue to move the school toward the goals defined in your Strategic Growth Plan. Delivering on your promises will help reduce the risks of negative alliances and cultural degradation.
Stay focused. Continue to love'em and lead'em.
You can continue to grow even through a leadership change, but not without a strong commitment to integrity and continuous improvement. School leadership requires courage and strength that will certainly be tested during these times--guard yourself and your culture from the "diseases" will seek to destroy your relationships and goals.