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5 Traits of Highly Effective Leaders in Challenging Times

Whilst this edition of School Leadership Insights is sent to you on April 1, I don’t think the current environment is one where April Fool’s Day jokes are suitable – although maintaining a sense of humour in times of high stress is beneficial.

The impact of leaders can NOT be overstated. Leaders have a huge impact on the culture in a school, staff morale and stress levels of all in the school community.

I have been stunned by the quality of school leadership evident in the past few weeks. In this edition I want to highlight 5 behaviours that are commonly found and are indicative of awesome leadership.

Increased visibility – it can be tempting to bunker down when you are inundated with information and demands on your time. However, in these challenging times it is more important than ever to be accessible to staff and visible in the school. Be strategic when allocating key times eg being at your office and accessible in the hour before school starts, drop in to the staffroom during morning break, take a few minutes at lunch time to walk through the playground and touch base with staff on duty and be by the front gate at pick up times. These crucial times leverage your impact as a leader.

Communicating the intent behind decisions – people are always make assumptions about ‘why’ we made a particular decision. If they presume that our intentions are good they are more likely to trust us. If they think our intentions are NOT in their interests then they are LESS likely to trust us. Wherever possible we should endeavour to communicate the intent behind our decisions. This is especially important in times of high anxiety.

Only worrying about the factors you can control – there are many factors beyond our control in these times of uncertainty. Worrying excessively about factors that are beyond our control is pointless. Try to focus your attention on the factors that ARE in your control.

Taking more time with people – whilst the demands placed on leaders during recent times are massive, highly effective leaders have great skills in making people feel valued and supported.

Keeping calm and slowing your reactions – as a leader your attitude is contagious. It is vital that we ensure that our attitude is worth catching. Highly effective leaders communicate calmness and stability on the surface, even though I know they are ‘paddling’ like crazy beneath the surface. If the leaders are calm, the crew are usually calm too. If the leaders is panicking and running around like Chicken Little screaming “The sky is falling…the sky is falling!!!” then inevitably their crew too is stressed. The calmness of highly effective leaders extends to an ability to being LESS REACTIVE.

If I can be of any help to you, your leadership team OR staff during this uniquely challenging time, I’m only a phone call away.