It is hard to imagine starting a new job as a school or district leader right now, but many are. Some of these leaders are stepping into roles never having met their colleagues or staff in person, serving families and students whom they can only connect with through devices, all of whom have experienced some kind of trauma, stress, or uncertainty related to the challenges of the pandemic. Leadership entry is always daunting, but leadership entry now is especially precarious.
This spring and summer, I worked with a group of education leaders planning transitions into new roles in schools, districts, and education nonprofits. The experience reminded me how important it is to create an intentional leadership-entry plan, but it also elevated the importance of making sure that plan is equity-focused and human-centered.
For new leaders stepping up to serve our young people and their families at a critical time, here are a few takeaways that arose from my discussions.
Embrace the dual-track agenda
A new leader today needs to be doing the day-to-day work of continuing to lead through the crisis, while simultaneously grabbing onto the opportunities the crisis affords.
In other words, in a typical leadership entry process, the leader is looking for strengths to build on, challenges to address, and opportunities to pursue. Leadership entry today will require seeking out opportunities to heal, repair, and transform. Let your community know that this is your approach. This will give them confidence that you are taking action now while leading your community towards a better future.
Ask yourself: How might I design my entry activities so as to listen for feedback that can help us now and aid in our recovery, while also capturing ideas for the future? Where are the opportunities that would not otherwise exist? How might we capitalize on those opportunities?