Leadership lessons in the time of COVID-19
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Leadership lessons in the time of COVID-19

by Freya Lucas

April 24, 2020

Culture design group Gapingvoid has released an e-book which explores leadership in the time of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 


“What is really needed, of course, is leadership. Not just from our heads of state, but from people, no matter where they fall in the proverbial food chain. Just… people” the authors said. 


Understanding the importance of supporting all those in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, including those who are leaders, policy makers, and those who guide and govern decisions affecting the workforce, The Sector has compiled some core insights from the publication which we believe may resonate. 


Culture is an anchor 

The role of culture in determining the outcomes of any business or service provider, including those who operate in the ECEC sector, is well known, but is also a concept, Gapingvoid said, which is poorly understood. 


Gapingvoid defines culture as “the beliefs, mindsets, mental models, principles, values and more that when taken together, inform behaviour.” 


As popular early childhood theorist Urie Bronfenbrenner noted in his ecological systems theory, culture changes people, and people change culture. When things are in a state of flux, as they are during the current pandemic, culture is an anchor which informs how leaders lead. 


“Design the culture you wish people to adopt, and don’t fall prey to the cultural norm of others” is the advice from Gapingvoid. 


To create a service which is calm, attentive, and proactive, rather than reactive, leaders need to display the same qualities in their leadership of others. 


Tension and change can be forces for good 

A fundamental belief of the Gapingvoid team is “nothing changes in the absence of tension.”


While many of the recent changes in the ECEC sector have brought moments of discomfort, and for some, panic, the moments of tension encountered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can also be powerful drivers for change. 


There are rarely moments in ECEC settings where numbers of children are low, and numbers of educators are high. What opportunities could these moments bring? 


Some services are having conversations about how things might be different when the service again has a full cohort of children – what steps might be made in the interim to achieve these goals? 


Being an agent for change

ECEC services are communities within communities, all working together to deliver outcomes for children, who then grow up to work within communities, hopefully to make things better for others. 


Educators and leaders in this space are uniquely powerful, positioned to make a true difference in the lives of children and families, and impact communities at large through the education and care that they deliver. 


As difficult as managing the COVID-19 pandemic is, it also gives leaders an opportunity to begin again, to reach out, and to connect with one another to share ideas, and to re-create a sense of community which is stronger than ever before. 


What actions might you take as a leader to build the community in which you work? 

To access the e-book on leadership, as created by Gapingvoid, please see here

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