On Thursday of this past week, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar facilitated by the Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) that brought together four independent school-affiliated leaders from around the globe, who are farther ahead with respect to their COVID-19 journeys. Some are preparing for the imminent return of staff and students, and some have welcomed back a large portion of their school population. I am grateful to CAIS for their support in facilitating these gatherings. While they assist our Canadian schools as we plan what our returns will look like, they have also strengthened my belief that our girls- the leaders of tomorrow- need to see and acquire important and specific skills in order to be successful.
One participant, Mr. Laurie McLellan, Director of Nanjing International School in China, was asked to share his observations and advice to all of us on the call. McLellan said that he kept two leaders’ mantras by his work area to remind him of how to lead during this crisis.
The first is from Patrick Lencioni, a business author who focuses on management, and for whom I hold high regard. McLellan shared Lencioni’s mantra for leadership:
- Be exceedingly human
- Be persistent (in messaging, not dogma)
- Be creative
The second is from Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. McLellan shared that he has worked to follow her mantra of:
- Direction giving
- Meaning making
As I listened to McLellan and reflected on our School’s approach, I couldn’t help but fast forward in my mind and wonder what lessons we will have learned along the way. I do know that Lencioni’s and Ardern’s mantras are important regardless of what the situation is, and should be front of mind at all times.
These mantras are not just for the formal leader. They are for all of us as learners, too.
I have already expressed my strong belief that St. Clement’s has a great opportunity to reflect and ensure that the work, approaches, and the experiences we are living through now inform what and how we continue to leverage our girls’ learning.
Having said that, I believe that we are well on our way with the ‘what’ and now we must focus equally on the ‘how.’
As I wrote in my blog in April a year ago, we know, through research, that our ‘what’ is ensuring that, by the time they leave SCS, our girls have acquired six competencies that are resultant from engaging in deep learning: character education, communication, citizenship, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Both Lencioni’s and Ardern’s mantras reflect these competencies.
Over the coming months, as the School continues to work on its five-year strategic plan, we are committed to ensuring that we use this unprecedented time to inform how we continue to do our work to develop outstanding future-ready women who are intellectually curious, courageous, and compassionate.