The ability of a leader to proactively respond to a sudden and/or evolving situation can make or break a career. When that evolving crisis is outside of the normal scope of one's expertise, the stakes become even higher. There are specific tactics and strategies a leader can implement before a crisis ever emerges, however, that can radically influence the end result, starting with a strategic plan. When that plan is combined with explicit communication strategies and team-building techniques, the leader can go into a crisis situation leaps ahead of his or her counterparts. With a collaborative and dynamic culture alongside the leader, he or she is well-equipped to face new challenges with merited confidence and aplomb.
Up to this point, all of the strategies that have been discussed share an important commonality - they are all proactive crisis leadership strategies that can be implemented by any leader immediately upon appointment to a new position. You don't have to (and shouldn't) wait for a crisis to emerge before carefully considering the strategies discussed. Not doing so can actually be a detriment to your leadership before a crisis even surfaces. We would all do well to enter our leadership careers with a premeditated expectation of crisis. With such, we can be confident that when an emergency arises, we will be equipped to navigate the uncharted waters that rise up in the storm. Building a collaborative school culture with an emphasis on open communication and trusting relationships is the first step that all leaders should take in order to dispel the impact of a crisis.
The first step in building a collaborative school culture is to recognize that every day is an opportunity to build relationships, trust, and a desired culture within our teams. Incorporating proactive communication techniques, such as kicking off the week with a Monday Memo, and reflecting alongside your staff (through small group meetings, Friday Focus emails, etc.) are great strategies leaders can use to develop communication norms. Through these communications, leaders can model intentional transparency and strategic vulnerability, rapidly propelling an organization's culture forward as relationships become more interdependent and humanism is celebrated and valued among the team. We must remember that inclusiveness is a precondition for respect, creating a sense of pride and belonging. This will transition to a sense of commitment to stay the course, even when hard times abound. When we consider building a strong, dynamic culture as a precursor to crisis leadership, we naturally develop the support we need to navigate the unforeseen crises that lie ahead. There is no need to go it alone in leadership. The empowered work of teams will drive us forward and leave us with energy we need to continue to serve others well before, during, and after a crisis.
So, what happens next? What happens when a crisis does actually strike. We know from experience that it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when? In this next segment, we will explore what happens when a crisis occurs, and the types of crises that educational leaders might face. Later, we will look at the logistical and emotional aftermath of a crisis, how we cope, and how we propel our organizations forward. I can't wait to meet you there!
Linger a Little Longer:
1. Review the posts on crisis leadership and pre-crisis strategies for communication and relationships discussed over the past few weeks. Which post or idea resonates with you the most? What is your one takeaway?
2. Which pre-crisis communication strategy can you embrace, starting today? How do you believe this strategy might serve you in a time of crisis?
3. Which pre-crisis relationship strategy stands out to you that you might implement as soon as this week? What is the benefit of this strategy (as it might serve relationships) when a crisis actually occurs?