Congratulations! You have the unique privilege of leading your school(s) through an unprecedented time in the history of the world.
Each day brings new data and information that heightens the level of concern. Meanwhile, you have to maintain engagement with your board, faculty, parents, students, donors, and community in order to sustain some level of mindshare and momentum.
Effective leadership through the fear and chaos of a pandemic requires adjustments. You've faced lots of challenges in your school leadership, but this is a whole new level. Now is the time for leaders to lead!
Your stakeholders are dispersed, especially faculty who are teaching from home using new tools and techniques for online instruction. Their stress level is even higher at a time of the year when it's already difficult. Parents are likewise feeling very anxious. They are all counting on you to lead them through this mess!
As you evaluate the best options to sustain your organization, consider these three priorities to stay on track even through such difficult times. CLICK HERE to watch the video webinars that provide more detailed guidance.
Building and sustaining relationships has become even more important and more complicated for school leaders with social distancing and everyone off campus. Effective planning and communication are vital for sustaining your culture and achieving your enrollment goals.
- Revisit your Website
Starting with the home page, take a fresh look at what it's like to view your site for the first time. Is your brand promise and call-to-action clear and prominently communicated at the top? Is it easy to find information and navigate? Do all the links work?
Read through your welcome letter (and other text heavy areas)--it's often way too long and lacks focus on the key messages. Update your pictures and upcoming events. One school site we recently reviewed was still promoting the golf outing for 2018!
- Engage your Ambassadors
If you don't have a Parent Ambassador program already, why not start now? This is the perfect time to define your initial structure and start training selected parents. You can begin "mobilizing the masses" during the current hiatus. Send an email if you need our Parent Ambassador Blueprint to get started.
- Analyze your Data
You have data from enrollment, competitors, surveys, accreditation, finance, development, community demographics, etc. Have you invested the time to connect the dots and conduct an honest assessment of where you are today as an organization and how you got to this point? Every school has access to data, but very few are using it to learn and advance the disciplines of effective school leadership. Perhaps you should schedule an online retreat to reflect and regroup.
Manage Your Grapevine
Communication is even more critical during a time of decentralized leadership and instruction. Your challenge is to manage a complex ecosystem of relationships (or what we call your grapevine) that is now spread throughout your community.
Consistency in the Sequence of your messages is a huge advantage because it builds confidence with each stakeholder group and enables you to refine your message for greater accuracy and effectiveness. Remind them about your mission and core values, and make them feel like they're part of the team.
Teachers and staff are wise to not allow themselves to be isolated from the their peers and administrators. Without frequent conversations and affirmations of progress, trust and engagement tend to decline. Talk, share, and track your work, and make sure you provide updates to your leadership.
CLICK HERE to learn more about how to avoid the headaches of miscommunication and to build greater trust using The Laws of the Grapevine.
Re-Focus on the Discipline of Talent
The real value of your school is in your people. Knowing that you cannot have a great school with a disciplined team of educators who share common beliefs and commitments, use this time to advance your Discipline of Talent.
- Who are the employees within your school who contribute at the highest level to your mission, culture, and goals?
- What do you know about them and how can you adjust your organizational habits and hiring practices to retain and recruit these top performers?
- What is your Talent Quotient? (The ratio of people who meet or exceed clearly stated expectations compared to those who do not.)
- How can you raise your TQ this year for the benefit of your leadership and all of your stakeholders?
Review your Performance Rubric to clarify your core values and expectations, and then develop your talent plan for 2020-21. The impact on your school (and on your own quality of life) will be worth this investment of your time and energy while enduring the current situation.