Leaders in the further education and skills sector experience high pressure in ‘normal’ circumstances. Working in uncertain and ever-changing times, it goes without saying that pressure rises exponentially in times of emergency or crisis such as these.
Now, more than ever, leaders need to strengthen their own resilience, broaden their repertoire of coping strategies and support the teams they lead if they are to build resilient successful organisations.
During times of increased pressure, we can learn a lot from neuroscience and areas such as neuro-leadership:
- Emotional and physical symptoms increase when resilience is reduced. Our capacity to think rationally takes a hit, and we can find ourselves triggered into fight, flight or freeze mode.
- Different people express stress triggers in different ways, depending on personality and life experience. A coping or recovery strategy that works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else.
- Some people surprise themselves with their ability to recover from setbacks, whilst for others it is much harder. A generally positive outlook on life appears to make the difference and can be learned.
- Humans are not designed to survive alone. With many of our teams now in a virtual work pattern for the foreseeable future, leaders must quickly build, and retain, trust and build psychological safety in the teams they lead.
We support our clients in responding to the challenge, change and pressure through a range of ways:
- Leadership coaching for resilience – Supporting individual leaders and leadership teams through leadership coaching programmes conducted virtually and scheduled around diary commitments. These programmes focus on a wide range of issues including bolstering resilience, scenario planning, change management and navigating difficult stakeholder relationships. Programmes have focused on supporting individual leaders or whole leadership teams. An example of which is our work supporting 21 leaders across a large local authority in the South East.
- ‘Resolve & Reset’ sessions for a senior team – Working with senior leadership teams in colleges and the border education and public sector to support teams to lead through the crisis and begin to plan for recovery, focusing the team on issues such as: the psychology of leading through crisis, determining recovery options; building team resilience; maintaining communication; keeping momentum on change initiatives and; promoting wellbeing and a culture of inclusion.
- Resilience training – In volatile times, staff need both reflection time and practical tips on how to stay focused, resourceful, positive and open to opportunities. Our video-enabled workshops have been designed specifically to be delivered to large groups and to share practical tools and solutions from positive psychology to help individuals and their teams to achieve psychological safety and find resilience strategies that work for them.
There is, of course, no one-size-fits all solution which is why every intervention we design starts with diagnosing an individual organisation’s needs.
Within our Leadership and Talent Consultancy, we have a dedicated team of learning and development specialists who lead on the design and delivery of our leadership development modular programmes, our manager and future leader programmes, our board evaluation and development projects as well as our organisational transformation initiatives. We also then have an extended leadership faculty that are spread nationally to meet our client and sector needs.
Andrew White Principal Consultant, Leadership & Talent Consultancy