Leadership is all about understanding your staff and aligning them to the school vision, which means leaders need to be excellent communicators, motivational and at times, inspirational.
But these are not normal times. Suddenly, being inspirational is something that we need to be on a daily basis – to keep our teams motivated, our parents engaged and our students learning.
Even if this is not your strong suit, your staff need a strong and passionate leader right now. We’re three weeks in and staff are starting to feel isolated. They need to know they are valued and are part of a wider, positive organisation – that they belong to something special.
But it’s not that easy. Afterall, we’re only human. So, having spent the past few weeks leading my own schools, here’s a few thoughts I wanted to share on how I think we can tackle leadership in lockdown…
Communicate you care
As busy and as overloaded we are, both professionally and personally, as leaders we need to maintain the lines of communication between the SLT and staff. An email is OK, but a personal phone call is better. In this way, we can measure people’s wellbeing and support them appropriately. More importantly, it shows them that we care. Also consider a weekly ‘call to arms’. A staff wide email explaining how proud you are of your team will go a long way to lift spirits and gel the team.
As leaders you must also be mindful of the information you share with your team from the news or social media. Use the opportunity to share only positive, uplifting messages about the role we are taking in this fight. Constantly remind them of the good we are all doing.
Keep the school spirit alive
Schools are social environments and as leaders we need to consider replicating this in our current situation. Organise quizzes, bingo sessions, silly games and joint video calls. Planning these things will show staff that you want them to be happy and connected and that although separated physically, we are still an unbeatable team (but let staff know they can choose if, and when, they join in).
Work on wellbeing
We’ve found that there’s excellent resources available to support with wellbeing. For example, look at your staff insurance package. Many of these now have wellbeing resources for staff, and some have even updated these for home learning. There are also companies such as Hays who are creating resources for leaders to manage staff wellbeing. Delivering these positively will show that leadership puts wellbeing first.
Equally important is monitoring engagement of these facilities to see if anyone may need extra support (and if they do, we need to broker this immediately).
Schools need inspirational leadership more than ever. In these uncertain times, staff need to believe that some things will never change – that they are valued, they are doing an incredible job and that you care. That’s not to say that we don’t need to also focus on the usual management processes for when normal service resumes – I’ll be talking about how we can best do this in my next blog.
Until then, let’s also give ourselves a break. Leaders need downtime and the opportunity to clear a bit of head space too. That’s why I won’t be working all over the Easter break. I’m going to take some time out and spend quality time with my wife and kids – and in week three of lockdown that’s also going to call for some pretty inspirational ideas to keep them entertained!