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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

COVID-19 drives the need for great leadership

I’ve spent a good portion of my career writing about different aspects of leadership. Almost any success or failure is rooted in what an organization’s leaders do.

Leaders dictate culture and values. And the coronavirus pandemic has been an object lesson in why leadership makes a difference. You don't have to watch the news on TV to see it as they are all around us.

I see it here at work through the example of my boss, Troy Schneider. He’s always been good at communicating with the team and that’s been critical now that we are all working remotely and figuring out new ways to serve our readers and advertisers.

One leadership example I’ve been witnessing has been at my kids’ school, Pinecrest in Annandale, Virginia. It’s a small private school that runs through sixth grade. As a member of the board, I’ve been privy to some things ahead of the broader school community. But with the coronavirus crisis moving so quickly, I’m not ahead by much.

It has been remarkable how quickly the school responded as the stay at home orders began to flow. We started with packets of school work and that has quickly morphed into video conferences and online socials. Head of School Nicole McDermott, rallied the teachers, the students and the parents.

Her leadership has taken several forms:

  • Setting an example through her hard work and creativity
  • Constant and steady communications. This includes talking to the board as well as the broader community. She’s relayed resources, not just on how to manage your kids at home but also for you as a person.
  • Being a source of information and news. This includes what other schools are doing, what she and the teachers are working on, as well as information coming from the state and federal level.

I’ve really appreciated how she has also always acknowledged the unknowns. There have been a lot of those. To me, that kind of candor builds trust. You know the person isn’t going bluff or bluster their way through.

Pinecrest School has a motto of This is Community. Nicole's leadership has lived up to that and carried it forward it. She’s made it a reality. Having known Nicole now for several years, I didn’t expect anything less but it has still be remarkable to witness her in action.

As serious and devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, it also has been like the Gene Kranz quote from Apollo 13 -- “This is going to be our finest hour.”

In many ways, it has been. I see it at work where we reinventing so many things we do and, thankfully, my kids are living it at their school.

So, that’s my story of leadership. I know there are others out there. Please share. We need to learn from these examples.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:41 AM


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