Be Vivid with COVID
What is the Principal’s chief responsibility during Covid-19? In my view, it is to lead and rally their teachers for a better future. Like a lot of us, teachers have anxiety about the future at this current time. This isn’t a problem it points to us and our adaptive state as human beings. We tend to be more anxious about the unknown than the known. What we struggle with is seeing what this future could look like. So how do Principals take this legitimate anxiety about the future and turn it into positiveness? The answer according to Marcus Buckingham is to be vivid in the pictures of the future the Principal paints.
Take for example the move to alert level 3. The mixed messages from Ministry, the unions, colleagues, Facebook etc literally bombarded us all with a plethora of information. Some very well-intended but nevertheless overwhelming. This did nothing to ease staff and parental fears about what this would look like. The Principals that have handled this extremely well with their staff have been very vivid in their descriptions of how they see the move out of Level 4 occurring for their school. They have a plan and they communicate this well to their staff and as a result, the staff feel confident in the plan and in control.
In other words, the vividness of the leader has caused staff stress levels to lessen as they have faith in the direction the Principal is going to take them. The Principal has painted a picture of what the move out of level 4 will look like and people find this reassuring. These leaders are able to put themselves into the shoes of their staff and understand what their needs are and how best to achieve this under the restrictions imposed by the Government and Ministry. These Principals have an in-depth understanding of how accountable they are to give confidence and positiveness to their staff and community. The really in tune leaders also seek feedback from senior staff at this time to ascertain how they are coming across in a very different form of communication.
Key points for leaders in this Covid-19 environment are:
Be vivid. Paint a positive and engaging future for the teachers and parents in your school community.
Have a plan and make sure it aligns to the Ministry and Government requirements but also meet the unique needs of your school community.
Communicate it well and seek feedback from Senior staff as to how the message and you as a leader are coming across to the staff and wider community.
Be confident, decisive and positive. People want to follow a leader who paints a vivid picture.