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“How do you cope during the pandemic?”

Posted on 20 January 2022

Authored by Mark West

As someone who leads and manages a setting or a school, many people have asked me: “How do you cope during this pandemic with the constant changing and dynamic situation?”

Well, for me, there were two frameworks I merged that have kept me above water. In fact, not just above water, I surfed the waves and maintained my enthusiasm and a clear direction of travel through the rough seas. As an organisation, we did not only survive, we emerged thriving as a result of following this method. There was one key task I carried out that is excluded from this outlined foundation method, speaking to an expert on disaster management, but that is for another article. First, the groundwork was laid…

Let’s break this framework down and credit those who are due. Firstly, I took the model of the three hats we wear as leaders and managers from the National College of Teaching and Leadership (Department of Education, 2020):

Divide your time appropriately between all three hats but first and foremost, you are a leader.

Doing the right things can be taught with techniques, management and leadership styles, as we do in our ‘Middle Leadership Programme’. The Leadership Hat, however, takes some deeper learning, reflection, honesty, engagement and commitment. This must be built into a daily routine and requires multiple inputs. See the next blog on the ‘Transformative Change Rubix’, which covers this in more detail.

The second framework is one adapted from Steven Covey’s (1999) age old task management matrix of urgency versus importance.

The key part of the above table is that we must give time to the ‘green growth zone’, which is where I believe the ‘leadership zone’ also exists. It is the part that nourishes and satisfies us. Combining and aligning these frameworks gave us this new framework for better time management and thought processing:

I ensured that every day, without fail, I started in the ‘green for growth zone’, focusing on my leadership. Ideally, I would spend 1 hour at the start of the day working in this zone. Worst case, 6 minutes but always starting in the ‘green for growth zone’.

The key point comes down to this. When do you schedule each week, or day, to ensure your ‘green growth zone’ is protected and not hi-jacked?

Personally, I opt for the first hour of each working day to set-up my leadership brain and half a day on Friday but that’s also for another blog article. It’s time to ask yourself, “What do I do with my first hour each day?”.