Leading with empathy involves understanding and valuing the emotions, perspectives, and needs of those in your district and community. In a time when the community is often divided, empathy can be used as a powerful tool to unite when communicating with all in your district.
Now, how can one go about leading their district’s communication efforts with empathy? Here are a few ways to start:
- Listen up: Actively listening to your district’s needs shows you care! Give the community in person opportunities to address their concerns, demonstrating interest and concern with consistent eye contact and body language. Ask open-ended questions to encourage further conversation and responses.
- Demonstrate understanding: Show that you can relate to the views and experiences of what your audience is expressing. Even if it is something you may not agree with, trying to see their point of view and expressing that you understand their view can help to smooth the discussion.
- Accountability: Owning up to mistakes on behalf of the district rather than becoming too defensive can often help mend bridges when there is a school crisis. Demonstrating accountability increases the likelihood that families, staff, and students will trust your leadership.
- Take Action: Take into account what your community has expressed and show that you plan to take action. Address those steps of action across communication channels, intertwining the messaging into social media, website, newsletters, etc.
- Open Lines of Communication: Provide families and staff with regular opportunities to express feedback to district leadership. Whether this is through surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, online forums or a combination of all of the above, extending the lines of communication is vital.
Developing a culture of empathy and unity isn’t an overnight process, it’s built over time through strategic communication. Need help in furthering your reach with your school district’s communication efforts? Nichols Strategies is here to take it to the next level.