February 19, 2021

I experienced a convergence of three seemingly unrelated pieces of information this week that enabled me to understand leadership by using a new lens. It is imperative for all of us to take a breath, periodically, and make sure our decisions are aligned with the mission of the organization and our behavior is aligned with the core values.

Like most school leaders, you have been operating in a head down, in the weeds, mindset for almost a year now. My first experience was when The Toughest Leadership Test landed in my inbox and suggested that for CEOs -- and, I would argue, for CFOs -- COVID has been the ultimate leadership test. I was very much intrigued. The article describes “micro-habits” (daily routines and ways of working) that help them and their companies cope personally and professionally. The article describes how some leaders are energized by the challenges, some are taking a step back to reimagine their company and industry, while others are exhausted and craving some downtime.

Here are two key takeaways:

  1. Leaders can feel alone at the top—but they need to get out of their own lockdown.
  2. Leaders are talking more often about their own and their companies’ purpose and the values they stand for, which is vital in the independent school sector.

The second was an ISAnet (Independent School Association Executive Directors) meeting in which a panel of association directors shared best practices for remote work. As many of our associations have been working remotely for years, it was helpful to hear about some strategies to better collaborate, ensure productivity, and retain culture. Part of the discussion was how important it was to check in with colleagues regularly and find ways to simulate the “water cooler” conversations that every organization enjoys. We also discussed the importance of healthy work habits and how it is incumbent upon leaders to model and respect temporal boundaries — i.e. not sending emails after hours and on weekends that could wait until regular business hours. (This is a particularly bad habit of mine that I am working on!). I would also recommend that if you have not checked in with your teachers, now is the time. Like you, they have been in the trenches for a year now and need to catch their breath!

The third experience was this video of Simon Sinek that popped up in my LinkedIn feed, talking about competition and the “infinite mindset.” Thinking of your competitors as worthy rivals that can reveal to you your weaknesses resonated with me as we think about how schools and universities are working to position themselves in COVID and beyond. Check out the article in Business Insider for more about this idea of worthy rivals.

I hope as you head into this weekend, you take a moment to consider your own leadership. Many of you have been an important stabilizing force within your community throughout this pandemic, and we are not out of the woods yet. While you might be feeling exhausted and zoom fatigued, you will prevail!

With that in mind, we want to be sure you have the most up-to-date information from the PAISBOA COVID Resource Page, and thank you for using the e-lists to share important information with your colleagues.

Check out these latest resources:

The CDC has released Your Guide to Masks, new information and reminders about proper mask usage.

The CDC also shared the new Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation.

Chris Joffe of Joffe Emergency Services discusses vaccine rollouts, testing updates, budgeting for the 2021-22 school year and more COVID-related topics in an exclusive PAISBOA program. You can view the recording on our Webinar Archive Page.

Through the Pandemic: What Will Sustain Independent Schools? co-sponsored by PAISBOA in conjunction with SAIS and over two dozen independent school associations throughout the country. View the recording on our Webinar Archive Page.

If you or one of your colleagues need help accessing or the e-lists, please contact Ron Hill at [email protected]. We look forward to seeing you on Monday for our regular Monday Lunch with PAISBOA Program at noon.

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