Tags:Leading Through A CrisisLeadershipDale Bailey

4 min read

How to be a predictable leader in a crisis

Be predictable.

Just a month or two ago, it would have sounded like a call to arms for the bland and uninteresting but now, it is a mantra for leaders during crisis.  

It isn’t a new train of thought, however. You can look back to 2009, when authors like Barry Conchie and Tom Rath spoke to behavioural predictability as the foundation of trust, or Stevenson and Moldveanu’s work in 1995. More generally, leaders have always sought to maintain stability – they just might not have thought of it as predictability.  

But right now, predictability should be the goal for all leaders – educational, organisational or otherwise. Research has even tried to make this a formal, measurable concept - it’s making it happen that can be difficult.  

How to make predictability your focus 

The current focus on wellbeing is excellent – but leaders also need to think about cementing predictability for the long-term.  

1. Predict the future (as best you can) 

Leaders need to show their people how they will act in the weeks and months ahead.  

That means reiterating your vision, your purpose, and building your plans around that. Let people know what the future of the organisational structure is, whether pay will stay the same, and what the long-term outlook is.  

 The essential principle here is “tell them before you tell them”. COVID-19 means that many aspects of our life, from travel to distancing to education, will be up in the air for some time. Identify what you can control – and make sure your people know exactly what’s going to happen in that regard.  

2. Overcommunicate

As Springboard Trust’s new CEO, Dale Bailey has had quite the introduction to our working environment – but has been a great example of predictability during a crisis. When asked about what the concept means to him, he had some clear words – of course – about communication.  

“Establishing clear communication and information is important – even when you don’t know the answer, you should be saying so and committing to coming back with a response.” 

This is echoed by Dan Grafton, ASB’s South Island Sales and Service Manager and volunteer with Springboard. 

“The only way to keep things moving is give lots of clarity – almost overcommunicate what is going on organisationally. Keeping that door open and the information flowing – it means everyone knows what they need to and feels secure.” 

Often, there is analysis paralysis about how often, how much, even how verbosely to communicate. But in times of uncertainty, it is almost always better to err on the side of too much.  

Flatbush School conducts a team workshop (2018
3. Give a great routine  

Establishing predictability means exercising consistency – and your own calendar is a great place to start.  

“Predictability certainly starts with new routines – especially regular meetings and comms at set times,” Dale explains.  

“There’s no better example than our daily briefings with the Director-General of Health. The nation has been glued to these 1pm communications, providing a great rhythm to our collective experience.” 

Being deliberate with your time, blocking out the same space each day for important communications and delivering metronomic updates to your people – this is the way to predictability.  

4. Learn from the experts 

You may have seen the news that New Zealand ranked top of the world in COVID communications, according to a roundtable of PR professionals. But as the results show, there’s more to it than the clear routine communications.  

Ranking the most credible sources of information on COVID-19, ‘independent scientific commentators’ were a clear first place – ahead of government departments and media.  

Just as leaders can learn from the expertise on display from the New Zealand government, they can learn from the constant deferral to experts like Dr Bloomfield or Dr Siouxsie Wiles.  

As Dale mentioned earlier in this piece – good leaders need to communicate when they don’t know the answer. But to cement predictability, having a clear trusted voice to defer to on matters outside your expertise can go even further to helping your people.  

Predictability is not an art form: it is something achieved through repetition, reliability and routine. It may not be the most glamorous trait to have as a leader – but when your people are in a state of flux, it can be the most valuable.  

Helping you continue to bring your best to students, schools and communities.

Helping you continue to bring your best to students, schools and communities.

COVID-19 Distance Learning Support for Principals

Distance learning is here, and it may be here for the long-term.   The challenge for school leaders is now finding what works well for their school community, how to build confidence in the use of distance learning methods, and what can be sustained in the long-term.  Springboard Trust and our expert partners are providing support to schools under Ministry of Education’s guidelines, leading and implementing the transition from classroom to a remote and blended environment where every student, teacher, parent and caregiver will have a different role to play.  How Springboard Trust can help with distance learning  In our role as an accredited PLD provider with the Ministry of Education, Springboard Trust can support you and your school to create a sustainable distance learning model that brings together your people, all relevant technology and best-practice leadership.    Currently, we have developed custom support under the following themes:   Leadership in a time of change (lifting capability, critical decision-making)  Leading towards distance learning Implementing distance learning (“getting it done”, including distance teaching practices)  Engaging stakeholders  Building resilience  Coaching for school leaders  If you, your school or your community need assistance with making distance learning a seamless experience for everyone involved, please get in touch with your Programme Manager or fill out our contact form.    Who can access Springboard’s distance learning support – and how  Our support comes in addition to the COVID-19 PLD Distance Learning Support package from the MoE, and is open to all schools who need it – not just Springboard Trust alumni. To access our support, you can either reallocate approved PLD hours you have with Springboard Trust or request our support directly from the Ministry of Education.   To access Ministry of Education guidance, FAQs and contact details on Distance Learning PLD, head this way!

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COVID-19: Resilience

Right now, there is nothing more important than resilience and wellbeing. While already a focus for many principals who have worked with Springboard Trust, we would like to provide more support in this area to help all New Zealand school leaders through the COVID-19 pandemic.   Our goal is to support principals to build and maintain resilience within themselves, so they can support others to do the same.   How Springboard Trust can help principals with resilience  We understand the time constraints and information overload that principals go through at the best of times – let alone during a pandemic.   That is why, rather than provide a comprehensive programme, we are offering a kete of wellbeing-focused resources that principals can use at their leisure. We will be releasing multiple items a week, focused on topics that respond directly to priorities principals have highlighted.   This will include:  Video content  Models of wellbeing   Presentations, seminars and conferences  Interviews and advice   These videos, toolkits and articles will give you a regularly updated set of tools to build and share resilience.  We will be calling upon our network of experts to provide insight, learning and perspective on resilience, helping principals keep a strategic approach to their own wellbeing, and improving that of their community.   Who can access our resilience resources – and how   We will publish all resilience resources either on this page or in our news section, keeping everyone updated on the latest we have to offer.   These resources are free to use for everyone who needs them, principals, volunteers, partners and the general public alike. Resources for resilience:

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