Leading schools during this springtime of the COVID-19 virus has been challenging for school leaders on many levels. Despite the uncertainty, fear, and upheaval the pandemic has caused in our society; educators have rallied and found many ways to continue to positively impact students and help them in ways that extend far beyond the learning experience. This includes providing food, basic necessities and some sense of normalcy. Educators should be proud of their efforts and a contribution to our society’s work to come together.
During this time there also have been many questions posed to school leaders about “what does next year look like?” This is a question that is most challenging to answer right now. First, the situation changes daily and schools must always follow the guidelines of the health organizations. So planning for an unpredictable future is the challenge on many minds of school leaders. In this blog post we discuss “how do you prepare to lead for an unpredictable future”
Here are some key areas leaders can focus on that allows them to be intentional with their efforts and support the work moving forward
- Humility and Grace – Leaders should be proud of the work they have done during COVID-19 with their school community. To help prepare to lead those you serve, we must be humble and not put ourselves at the center of the thinking but rather focus on those we serve – what are their needs, what supports will they ask for and how can we connect with each other. As John Maxwell has shared, the definition of humility is “not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”. In other words, leaders must focus on the needs of the students and teachers and what best practices can be used to support their work. At the same time, it is important to give yourself grace as you will not have all the answers and that is okay. The key is not having all the answers but developing the right questions that will develop solutions for those we serve to be put in positions of success.
2. Be Flexible and adaptable – The pandemic changes the situation within our county, state and country daily. Where you live will also impact how the pandemic impacts you to different levels. While it is important to prepare to best lead others, we must be ready for changes and when they happen, then embrace them. Our mindset of how we handle adversity is critical to support and lead others as they will look to you for guidance. Adaptability is one of the most essential skills for our times and leaders must model this for others. To be adaptable, keep your core values or principles in mind and model the way for others. When we connect with others and lead with our core then others will trust our actions and that will allow the pivot to be effective if significant adaptations must occur.
3. Connect with others and have conversations – No single person has this figured out. It is just not possible. As a result, the best way to learn nuggets of leadership and then apply to those you serve is to connect with others, listen, ask questions and see what can be applied to your thinking to lead your organization. The medium or methods you use to connect to others may vary but remember that who you spend the majority of your time with will determine in many ways your rate of growth – so find ways to connect with those that will challenge your thinking, give different perspectives and accelerate your rate of growth. Be a learner, a listener and understand everyone has something of value to share.
4. Importance of Reflection and then Action – When you think of all great leaders there are a few common traits that they share. One of these is the importance they place on reflection. They use this to learn from their experiences, understand their mistakes/blindspots and then adjust for greater growth. Reflecting alone is important but it will not move the needle. Most important part of this process is then putting that learning from the reflection into practice by action. Hope doesn’t create change, action does. Leaders understand the importance of innovation or trying something new to create better results and they are willing to take that risk.
Listed below are some previous blog posts I have written on the importance of reflection that I wanted to share:
Growth Through Reflective Questions (previous blog post)
Previous blog post on sharing failures and the learning from those experiences and all previous blog posts can be found at
True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own learning and that leads to an improved school. I encourage all leaders to think about how they can grow from this process and become better and then apply that moving forward. Using the items mentioned above will allow you to put those you serve in a position of success. By reflecting upon “How do you prepare to lead for an unpredictable future”, you can self-analyze if you are spending efforts towards the important and right work during COVID-19. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org