Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Leadership - Stepping Up in a Crisis Situation: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Leadership - Stepping Up in a Crisis Situation: Resources

Article excerpt

When things go wrong, you have to be commander-in-chief - this guide will help you to handle the pressure.

A key part of leadership is crisis management. Alongside counsellor, business manager, educator and all the other hats a principal or senior teacher has to wear, you also have to be ready to step up to become commander-in-chief at any moment.

This can be an intimidating proposition, as no one fully knows how they will react should the worst happen. Everyone will be looking to you for guidance, be it over a fire, the death of a student, a brewing media storm or the countless other emergency situations that can happen at school. Fortunately, there are some universal tips that should help you through an incident.

Expect the unexpected - Many supposedly unexpected events can be planned for in advance. Draw up a list of every potential incident you can think of and have a checklist of actions to follow in each case - it can make a major difference to your reaction times and your management of a situation.

Determine priority levels - Every potential incident should have a category of response attached to it that determines its level of urgency. Everyone should know the hierarchy.

Form a team - Develop people around you who will be your major incident response team. Choose members for their leadership qualities but also for their communication skills, ability to work under pressure, familiarity with the local community and proximity to the school should they be needed at short notice outside working hours.

Inspire confidence - From the moment a crisis develops, you will be under scrutiny. This will be a test of your management skills, as well as your emotional ability to cope. To remain calm and exude calmness, it is important that you inspire confidence through your words, tone of voice, body language and ability to take charge. It is crucial to be aware of this responsibility.

Get your story straight and get your message across - The rise of social media has meant that stories quickly reach wide audiences without the traditional fact-checking or questioning of participants. It is therefore essential to get your story straight, word it clearly, without hyperbole or emotion, and publish it as soon as possible on your school website. This means you can control the story from the start. It is also important to have an up-to-date list of contacts so that all parties who need to be told of the incident, be it students, parents or others, receive the news from the school first. …

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