Leading in the Unknown: A Self-Guided Learning Experience Focused on Leadership

a lens focused on distant landscape

Introduction

Strong leadership skills are essential for charter sector leaders to navigate the challenging times ahead of their organization during an unprecedented academic year and beyond. Leading in the Unknown is a three-part series featuring charter sector experts who provide real world applications on leading teams through change, maintaining a strategic focus, tracking success, and sustaining impact. Each module in the series includes three components – a webinar with implementation strategies, a guided self-reflection workbook, and an interview with a charter school leader on putting the content into practice.

Module #1: Creating a Culture of Care

Module #2: Strategic Leadership: Where Are We Going?

Module #3: Sustaining Impact: How Are We Doing?

Key Takeaways: Leading in the Unknown


Module #1: Creating a Culture of Care

Presenters: Lisa Diaz, Founder, Lumen Impact Group and Kelli Peterson, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Inclusion and Opportunities, Louisiana Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

During this learning module, you will:

•    Explore how developing and maintaining a culture of care is critical to organizational impact
•    Discover ways to prioritize staff and self-care 
•    Learn how to lead staff utilizing self-care as a priority even in uncertain times
•    Explore the balance between staff-care and job expectations

To further your learning during this experience, please download, print, and follow along with the Module #1 Self-Reflection Workbook. The workbook is available in PDF and DOC formats under "Handouts" in the top right corner of this webpage.

What does creating a culture of care look like in practice in the charter school sector? Listen to the below podcast to hear Lisa Diaz from Lumen Impact Group interview Dr. Kelli Peterson, assistant superintendent at the Louisiana Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, about how Dr. Peterson is leading her team during these uncertain times.

Additional Resources:

A Culture of Care, Without Compromise, By Michele Booth Cole

Good Bosses Create More Wellness than Wellness Plans Do, By Emma Seppälä

How to Take Care of the Adults (and Yourself) in Your School Community

The Psychological Effects of Workplace Appreciation & Gratitude, By O.C. Tanner

10 Reasons You Need to Show Appreciation Daily, By David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom

What did you think?

What did you think of Leading in the Unknown? Let us know by responding to our survey.


Module #2: Strategic Leadership: Where Are We Going?

Presenters: Lisa Diaz, Founder, Lumen Impact Group and Bevon Thompson, Principal and CEO, Imagine Me Leadership Charter School

During this learning module, you will:

  • Explore how to move your team from crisis reaction mode to short- and long-term strategy development; 
  • Learn how to support the development of mission aligned strategy; 
  • Discover how to engage key stakeholders in shaping your strategic direction; and
  • Learn how to set and communicate your vision to ensure all stakeholders are focused on the same desired target of  success.

To further your learning during this experience, please download, print, and follow along with the accompanying self-reflection workbook. The workbook is available in PDF and DOC formats under "Handouts" in the top right corner of this webpage.

What does maintaining a strategic direction look like in practice in the charter school sector? Listen to the below podcast to hear Lisa Diaz from Lumen Impact Group interview Bevon Thompson, principal and CEO at Imagine Me Leadership Charter School, about how he is leading his team during these uncertain times.

Additional Resources:

Is Your Nonprofit Organization in Survival Mode?

Schools Fail at Engaging Parents

Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively

Rules & Tips for Writing Powerful Visions

What did you think?

What did you think of Leading in the Unknown? Let us know by responding to our survey.


Module #3: Sustaining Impact: How Are We Doing?

Presenters: Lisa Diaz, Founder, Lumen Impact Group and Dr. Paula Bevan, Independent Consultant, Bevan Education Solutions

During this learning module, you will:

  • Explore how to determine impact-focused tracking indicators
  • Discover ways to develop reflection and refinement practices to advance impact
  • Determine methods to create shared expectations, including establishing clarity around the targets of success
  • Receive ideas to support team members in achieving expectations through feedback

To further your learning during this experience, please download, print, and follow along with the Module #3 Self-Reflection Workbook. The workbook is available in PDF and DOC formats under "Handouts" in the top right corner of this webpage.

What does sustainable impact look like in practice in the charter school sector? Listen to the below podcast to hear Lisa Diaz from Lumen Impact Group interview Dr. Paula Bevan, founder of Bevan Education Solutions, about ideas on how to sustain and measure impact in the charter sector during these challenging times and beyond.

Additional Resources:

Executives Fail to Execute Strategy Because They’re Too Internally Focused
10 Secrets of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions
Give Your Team More-Effective Positive Feedback

What did you think?

What did you think of Leading in the Unknown? Let us know by responding to our survey.


Key Takeaways: Leading in the Unknown

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, both in our everyday and work lives. It has been particularly challenging for leaders in the education field.

As leaders, we don’t have the luxury to close the blinds and hide out in our darkened offices. Not only do our teams count on us, but so do all the stakeholders of which our organizations’ work will have a direct impact.

How do we as leaders support others and continue to work towards our organization’s mission and vision? The answer lies in the fact that we are not alone. We have a team of people around us that, with good systems and behavioral supports, can and will help continue to generate momentum and impact.

Practically, it looks like this:

Creating a Culture of Care

It is not unusual, given our current realities, to feel at times like we are just trying to stay afloat both at work and in life. The truth is we can only tread water for so long before we start to sink below the surface. A member of your team might have been somewhere in this space recently, and even presently. Please know you are not alone, and this is not unusual given our current realities. As leaders, you can support your team to stay afloat by building a life raft. To build your team’s life raft, focus on these four areas:

- Relationships

- Acknowledgment

- Flexibility

- Transparency

The idea of this life raft is to keep your team, their needs, and communication at the heart of your organization.

Learn more about Creating a Culture of Care

Being Strategic

Once you’ve created a culture of care, it’s now possible to start thinking strategically. To move towards your greatest impact, you need to create a strategic focus despite the ever-changing environment.

This strategic direction, grounded in shared vision, must—because of the shifting environment—employ an adaptive strategy approach. This allows you to plan for many scenarios forward. 

Shifting from crisis response to strategic thinking and action can be difficult, especially with what can be hour-to-hour directional changes at times. However, not making this shift will leave your team missing the “road map” which provides guidance and, most importantly, focus during this time filled with so many unknowns.

Learn more about Strategic Focus.

Tracking Strategy to Sustain Impact

With a strategic focus identified, impact is the next hurdle. To sustain your organization’s impact, focus on developing a dashboard with targets to measure the success of key activities to keep your team from losing sight of the strategic focus you’ve set. Then focus on creating a culture of feedback to allow free-flowing, affirming, and developmental feedback to ensure that your team knows where they are in terms of meeting expectations.

Starting and sustaining impact of new or changing initiatives can be challenging in “normal” times, and these aren’t normal times. Staying focused, aligned, and committed to the same implementation efforts is critical to success.

Learn more about Sustaining Impact.

Conclusion

2020 has been a year full of obstacles, but it doesn’t have to mean a lost year for your organization. Taking the time to focus on your team, work on strategy that adapts to the changing environment, and ensuring sustained impact can, and will, lead your team to new levels of impact.