By Paula Jacoby-Garrett & Rachel Ziter-Grant
Early 2020 caught all of us by surprise. Change happened quickly and, for most of us, significantly altered our workplace. Those with a flexible mindset, or the ability to handle and adapt to change, were more successful in their work and personal lives. For many of us, creating and living a flexible mindset is a new skill that must be developed.
“Flexible leaders are those who can modify their style or approach to leadership in response to uncertain or unpredictable circumstances, said Brittney Anderson in a recent article for Sigma Assessment Systems1. You can’t always predict when change is going to happen, and the more you embrace a flexible mindset, the better the work environment will be for you and those you manage.
Being a successful leader in uncertain times will benefit not only your faculty and staff but you as well. A great way to start is to “let your staff and faculty know they are appreciated,” says Maria Paxinos, LCSW, Director of Student Development, Adelson Educational Campus. “Genuine appreciation lifts people up. It can increase worker engagement, motivation, and help with employee retention. It also creates good feelings, increased wellness, and optimism.”
Remember to “respect work and home life boundaries. These boundaries became blurred when teachers were working remotely in their homes. Encourage and help support these boundaries” (Paxinos). “Ask your staff and faculty, specifically what they need from you.” These are unprecedented and trying times. We may not fully grasp the needs of our co-workers and staff; keeping open communication is key to transparent support.
Most importantly, “lead with empathy,” says Paxinos. “Leading with empathy values relationship building, discovering the root cause of issues, and understanding another’s perspective.”