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How to Lead NOW: 3 Qualities Small School Leaders Need to Embrace


Hey friend, 

And I'm here today to talk to you about leadership now. And there are three things right now that we, as leaders, really need to embrace.

And it's more important now than ever with uncertain times ahead and all the different things happening in the world.

And so I invite you to reflect on your leadership and see if these things are something that perhaps you need to grow into a little bit during this time.

1. Get Uncomfortable

I think we've lived too many years being so comfortable in where we are. And you might think, "well, no, I've never been comfortable."

But think about it. We're creatures of habit in independent schools. We would put things in place and we'd say, "That's running smoothly. We don't need to revisit that." Or, that's how it's always been done so let's just continue to do that.

If you're not uncomfortable right now, that's a problem. Because right now everyone should be uncomfortable trying new things and embracing new strategies.

Why? Because although things might not work out, if you're not getting uncomfortable, you're not growing.

2. Listen Up

Number two is practicing listening now more than ever as leaders. I think independent school leaders actually are pretty good at listening.

But let me tell you a story. So a lot of my clients hire me because I'm a problem solver. Let's just put it out there. I'm a strategist. That's what I do. I love it. I'm passionate about it.

You give me the challenges you're facing, I'll come up with 10 solutions. And I get, so passionate that people are like "your energy's vibrating!!" I get jazzed because I love doing that.

But during this crisis, I really had to lean into the listening piece a lot. I would get on the phone with my Head of School clients and sometimes they just needed to tell me that it was a rough day and that things weren't going their way and that they had an angry parent phone call. And that they were feeling burned out and stressed out.

And it was then that I had to listen. I can't solve their problems. At that moment they're not looking for me to solve their problems. They want me to listen. And so I started to listen a lot more and I leaned into that a lot more this period than ever.

And it was really healthy for me as a leader to do that, to really understand what my clients are going through and to be there for them, even if it's just to listen. And that's really important as a leader to do. We need to listen to everyone and we need to hear their ideas and make them feel valued.

If we're not doing that, then we're not really leading. Well, we're just listening to ourselves talk and only listening to our ideas and pushing them forward.

3. Make Mistakes

And that takes me to number three.  As a leader, you're going to need to make mistakes. You're always going to make mistakes. This is just what's going to happen. Nobody is perfect!

It's what you do after you make the mistake that is key. And that is, you need to say, "Hey, I was wrong. I made that mistake. I completely own up to that. I thought that was going to work. It didn't work. I apologize."

And here's the kicker...if you want actually a team that is functioning and that brings new ideas and helps you and your school grow then you have to be okay with them making mistakes too.  

When I'm working with my teams, I'm always encouraging them to practice "B minus effort." We're going to get it wrong sometimes. And that's okay.

Marketing is all about throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks and then analyzing the data afterward and then going from there. So you're going to have some things that don't work. You can't beat yourself up over it.

And when I'm working with teams, I'm always saying "If you get hung up on being a perfectionist and not making mistakes, you will get nowhere." 

I actually was talking with a school that spent two years picking their brand colors because they wanted them to be perfect. Think of all the wasted hours!

You want to move things forward. And B minus effort means you don't get sloppy, but you produce. And the more you produce, the more likely you are to succeed. 

And that's what I'm challenging you, as a leader, to embrace not only for yourself but for your team. You are not perfect. Your team's not going to be perfect. And you need to be okay with making mistakes along the way and then owning up to them.

I hope that these three tips were helpful to you. Watch the video for more tips!

I'm cheering on all the independent school leaders out there. And I am thinking of you now and moving forward.

If you need anything, reach out to me. I'm here to support you.

I look forward to chatting soon!


 Aubrey Bursch, Founder, Easy School Marketing

P.S. Loving this? Then dive into the FREE Small School Marketing Resource Vault for short actionable videos on topics relevant to today's uncertainties. Enjoy presentations, cheat sheets, and more - all designed to help you increase revenue, retention, and enrollment. Check it out today


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