Crisis Leadership: A View from the Field

Thanks to Dr. Arsenio Romero, Superintendent of Deming Public Schools in Deming, New Mexico for his thoughts on Crisis Leadership.

The critical first step is making sure that our people can stay calm, stay focused, and stay positive. We cannot let doom, gloom, and complete helplessness get the best of us. We need to set teachers and parents up for success during this transition. We need to remember that this is a transition for families. This is a transition for our educators. Let us lead with grace. Let us lead with compassion. Let us lead with patience.

What I can do as a leader is to turn this adversity into an advantage. Together, all school leaders will do what we always do during times of unprecedented uncertainty? This is where we can start…

  1. Don’t ignore the anxiety people feelThis only magnifies it. It’s important to acknowledge and validate how people feel.  This includes parents, staff, and students.
  2. Actively define reality. People are amazingly able to deal with reality even if it has a significant downside. It’s the unknown that is paralyzing.
  3. Create a new starting line with our people. During times of crisis, people can become fixated on the change or what is not happening.  They are stressed because we may lose something we worked hard for.  Now all bets are off. Spending too much time on the change or what we have lost prevents us from creating a new starting line, focusing our energy on the “new normal” and how we can start over under the new conditions.  We can start with redefining our new purpose within our new reality.
  4. Use urgency as an alignment ally. Urgency can better frame the challenges, engage us in a deeper understanding of the issues, and equip ourselves with the responses necessary to be successful. Urgency is a powerful unifying force. We need to use it to our advantage!
  5. Establish new check-in routines. Staying in touch with all of my people is more important than ever. We have been using the virtual platform ZOOM. These brief interactions can be opportunities to share updates with each other, highlight the latest critical information, and identify adjustments that need to be made for our continuity of learning for students. These check-ins become a powerful social experience to reinforce that we’re not alone in responding to the challenges we face.
  6. Celebrate all victories, large and small. This means even more recognition of all actions that get positive results. All gains matter.  We must highlight all rays of light.