Leading Well Through COVID
Just to put things into context, leading is hard at the best of times, but leading and supporting health and wellbeing through a crisis will be the biggest challenge and test of any leader. What the pandemic has revealed is that we are all human beings and we are all in uncharted territory that has affected everyone. None of us will be returning back to what we are used to. But at the same time, the crisis gives us an opportunity to make wellbeing even more of a priority.
Over and above your settings essential and mandatory training, there are some essential skills and abilities that you and your team need to possess that will help you to navigate your way through the crisis.
The three ‘R’s’ of Early Years Leadership
Reset leadership so that the focus is on empathy and understanding. We need positive compassionate leaders that are emotionally available and adaptable. With extreme pressure on physical and mental health, leaders need to tap into their own emotional intelligence to make sure their teams come out of the crisis stronger.
Being open and honest is in, listening is in, whereas pushing people and creating competition is definitely out! We need to value the essential behavioural skills that really make us human ie self-awareness, optimism and collaboration – these haven’t always been taught but make us who we are and make our organisations and cultures what they need to be.
In times of crisis it’s critical for leaders to retain their passion, remain positive and have an optimistic approach to the future. Find out in our Positive Leadership courses how to lead with empathy and understanding, build staff resilience and embed a culture of wellbeing.
” The main takeaways I have from the Positive Leadership course are to encourage reflective practice as this is crucial to ensuring children are provided with strong, well rounded care and that leaders must adapt their approach in order to support each individual staff member in their own needs and to the situation. I will ensure I am more mindful of how other staff feel to allow me to become a strong, adaptable leader.”
“ I wanted to make sure that my team leaders’ had the skills and confidence to support their team members. After doing the leadership course I have already started to see positive changes in people’s attitudes, staff are more optimistic and empathetic. Team leaders have used supervisions to help staff to set realistic goals and focus on what’s important now. It’s given us a really useful framework and the practical tools to continue to support both staff development and wellbeing.”
Reconsider your priorities and involve the team in discussions about what really matters and work together to create a shared vision to promote wellbeing across the setting. One thing we do know is that children and adults need to be outside now more than ever.
As Kathryn Solley said in her recent blog article this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really reinforce the benefits of outdoor play. Being outside is a protective factor for us all of us during this time.
” It will be important to constantly reassure staff, parents and children that we are still taking precautions to ensure that everyone stays safe. I will be encouraging staff, parents and children to speak of any concerns they may have including if they don’t feel safe in the environment. We will be making even more use of the outdoor space when possible as this will reduce the risk of spreading germs and viruses and will help improve mental health through being exposed to nature and fresh air.”
Siobhan, Qualified PurpleBee PANCo
“I now understand the role of being a ‘pioneer for change’ and how important it is to keep the parents, staff and children in my setting up to date with new ideas and advice. I have learnt how to create a setting with health and wellbeing embedded in all that we do and how it is essential to be someone who others can turn to for support and advice with health and nutrition.”
” During my PANCo training I have learnt a lot about the importance of working together with the staff team and having a shared vision to promote wellbeing across the setting. Over the next few weeks my plan is to have a debriefing after each session to highlight any concerns and to address these by implementing actions to support children, families and the staff team.”
Re-evaluate and base what you’re doing on sound evidence acting on the best available and credible guidance and advice. Don’t assume we know how staff feel. Communication is key. Think about introducing a mentoring approach to provide both professional and emotional support.
Ask staff what they need in a variety of ways, such as during regular supervisions or through staff surveys. If it is done well it sends a message that you are here, you are listening and that you are committed to staff wellbeing. Making time to gather the feedback will give you an insight in how to support your team and will guide you in where to put your time, energy and resources.
As a leader its vital to continually develop positive relationships across the whole organisation by valuing difference and diversity, showing that you value the contribution of every person – actively encouraging difference of perspectives and the sharing of unique experiences. Staff should know that their wellbeing is a priority and every member of staff should have their own personal and professional development plan to improve their health and wellbeing. Everyone needs to know their role and responsibilities and who to speak to if they have a problem. A great way to achieve this is through one to one mentoring.
Start with three simple open ended questions:
- What’s your biggest concern right now at home or at work?
- How can we continue to support you?
- What communication updates would be valuable to you and what is the best method to communicate these to you?
Mentoring is a powerful tool for developing staff emotional wellbeing and resilience as well as a way to help achieve specific goals. Develop team building skills and effective communication during the crisis and find out how, in our Mentoring courses, to use this positive approach to build strong relationships and a caring and supportive environment.
“It’s been a stressful time for everyone especially as things keep changing a lot so I make sure that I seize every opportunity throughout the day for example, asking open ended questions, checking knowledge and giving immediate feedback as situations arise. I’m very aware of how my attitudes & behaviours heavily influence anyone that I mentor so being a positive role model is crucial. The mentoring relationship to me, isn’t just about helping my team to establish personal goals and targets, it’s as much about supporting their emotional well-being and resilience”
” The course was great. I am working as nursery mentor, this is a new role for our company, it has given me some ideas on how I can organise my work and how I can work with my staff team.”
For regular updates, links and useful wellbeing information, join us in sharing and networking in our Facebook group: PurpleBee PANCo Wellbeing Hub