Giving Your Team a Sense of Purpose
What Education Leaders Are Saying
As we connect with leaders across America this week, many are celebrating an unprecedented feat: transforming the high-touch world of teaching and learning into a remote one. Kids, teachers, parents and central teams are launching Zoom and Canvas for the first time and leaders are making critical decisions while managing a home-schooling business.
In the moments around the rapid-fire change, people see that the ground underneath them has shifted - and are vacillating between feeling adrift and pushing forward on an adrenaline rush.
Here’s what we hear:
“We got through this last week. Now a new set of challenges arises (quality content, grading policies, summer school). Do I have what it takes to lead through this?”
“I’m worried about my team. Some are managing the crisis, others are spinning their wheels. I fear a few won’t get anything done at all.”
“I may look fine, but internally I am struggling. I feel unmoored, and I fear for my future.”
In these uncertain times, great leaders paint hope for their people. But painting hope in uncertain times is not leaving one another to wallow in the darkness with broad guidance and well wishes. We believe painting hope comes by reminding people what is unchanged. It is charting a new path to move toward that True North. And it’s creating clarity so they know they and their work matter.
Painting hope is about giving pragmatic, concrete guidance to help people manage in a new reality.
What Your Team Needs Now: A Foundation to Work From
For most leaders, as the newness of remote learning settles and the adrenaline rush subsides, they start to process the implications. For the first week or two after you shift to a remote workplace, people are still getting technology working, figuring out childcare and shifting their calendars. But soon, they are looking for “their new normal.”
The foundation for this next phase has four pillars:
Connection - a sense of belonging and a space to be real and human in this fast-changing world
A True North - a sense of what is stable and durable. What you care about is unchanged (eg educating students, supporting families, growing teachers) - even if how you get there differs
Agility - a sense that leadership is thinking about the same questions I am and has a plan for help us adjust priorities and build new ways of working
Clarity - a sense what is expected of me right now, how I fit in and how my role changes
How to Find New Ground: Clarity is Kind
Earlier this week, we shared some tips for pausing to connect from the heart. Next, we focus on finding your True North and using Agility to define what that looks like in your new normal.
If you are ready to start moving toward clarity, you might consider the following steps:
Articulate What Is Unchanged: Your True North - create your narrative around what you collectively care about that is stable and durable.
Narrate Where You Are and What’s Ahead - create a short term path for some baseline clarity, while balancing the immediate needs of your people
Have Your Team Begin Identifying A New Route - what are the big rocks that still must occur even in the midst of COVID-19? what still needs to happen (though differently) and what needs to pause? where are there unexpected opportunities? (underutilized time or staff that could be repurposed)
Share the Big Picture and Continue to Refine - consider how you communicate out your evolving plan - and where you might need to get input from someone else.
This time in our history is an important reminder to pause, listen to one another and attend to what our people need. Sometimes they need to connect. And sometimes, they need clarity. They need you to help them find their footing in a new space. It may not be all of the answers, but it’s enough that they can stay centered and build from this new reality.
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