Six Results Count Skills for Leaders Responding to COVID-19

Posted April 13, 2020, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Results Count faculty member

The vast spread of the coro­n­avirus com­pels social sec­tor lead­ers to man­age with urgency through stress­ful and rapid change. The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion has iden­ti­fied six Results Count® tools and skills that lead­ers serv­ing chil­dren, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties can use to main­tain a focus on achiev­ing equi­table results — even dur­ing the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Rec­og­nize that your focus has not changed.

The strate­gies that you were pur­su­ing a month ago may have changed, but your focus on chil­dren, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties remains unchanged. Con­tin­ue to keep your tar­get pop­u­la­tions at the cen­ter of what you are doing, pay­ing clos­est atten­tion to the chil­dren and fam­i­lies least like­ly to do well dur­ing these dif­fi­cult times. Iden­ti­fy­ing a con­di­tion of well-being (i.e., a result) that you desire for these groups and ana­lyz­ing strate­gies to advance this work can make a dif­fer­ence in both the short and the long term. Lead­ers can cen­ter their work around race and eth­nic equi­ty by under­stand­ing the roles that race, class and cul­ture play in shap­ing out­comes and oppor­tu­ni­ties for their tar­get pop­u­la­tions. For exam­ple, who is hard­est hit by COVID-19? What strate­gies — new or long­stand­ing — should you be pur­su­ing to ensure that population’s out­comes are max­i­mized? What con­tri­bu­tion can your orga­ni­za­tion can make? The Foundation’s Results Equi­ty Cross­walk tool helps lead­ers bring atten­tion to and act on racial and eth­nic disparities.

2. View this as a time when we must all adapt.

Peo­ple react dif­fer­ent­ly to change and have dif­fer­ent needs. Pay spe­cial atten­tion to the need to process loss and change. The pan­dem­ic mag­ni­fies threats like ill­ness, job loss and eco­nom­ic inse­cu­ri­ty. Even shel­ter­ing in place and work­ing from home are changes that can be very desta­bi­liz­ing to your staff and part­ners. Acknowl­edg­ing these changes and pro­vid­ing space for pro­cess­ing them is impor­tant. For exam­ple, begin meet­ings with a sim­ple ques­tion that acknowl­edges what par­tic­i­pants are feel­ing or think­ing as they approach the work. A sim­ple, gen­uine How are you?” is an impor­tant open­er because it allows the group to know what might be dis­tract­ing indi­vid­u­als from join­ing the work. Be pre­pared to take more time for these kinds of check-ins. Fol­low up with a ques­tion or two that draws atten­tion to the work at hand, such as What do you want to get out of this meeting?”

3. Reach out to part­ners, because you need them now more than ever.

Ask your­self and your team what can be done in part­ner­ship with oth­ers right now in a high­ly aligned and mean­ing­ful way. Look beyond your long-stand­ing part­ners. Which unlike­ly part­ners share your result and can con­tribute to it? The Foun­da­tion pro­duced a short video on how to achieve high action and high align­ment in large-scale work.

4. Use your­self as an instru­ment of change.

Indi­vid­u­als at any lev­el — no mat­ter the job title or descrip­tion — can prac­tice lead­er­ship. Think about your staff and part­ners look­ing to you for lead­er­ship right now. How are you com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them? What infor­ma­tion do they need to keep work mov­ing? How can you max­i­mize con­nec­tions when you may not be able to meet in per­son? How are you using data to dri­ve deci­sion-mak­ing? How are you hold­ing results and equi­ty at the cen­ter of your work?

5. Be nim­ble and thought­ful, not reac­tive and impulsive.

This is the time to use your data, make hypothe­ses, com­mit to action and test things out. Pay atten­tion to what you are learn­ing and then revise as nec­es­sary. Remem­ber to look for data — both quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive — that can inform your think­ing and the suc­cess of your efforts, even in quick-time cycles.

6. Remem­ber to take care of yourself.

Mod­el the impor­tance of tak­ing time with your fam­i­ly and be grace­ful with your­self and oth­ers. The unknown can be a scary thing.

These six skills are part of Results Count®, the Foundation’s com­pe­ten­cy-based approach to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment. Casey uses Results Count to help lead­ers in the social and pub­lic sec­tors accel­er­ate mea­sur­able and equi­table improve­ments in out­comes for chil­dren and fam­i­lies in com­mu­ni­ties across the country.

Strong lead­er­ship is des­per­ate­ly need­ed right now for the good of our kids and fam­i­lies,” says Bar­bara Squires, the direc­tor of Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment at the Foun­da­tion. Most lead­ers are feel­ing enor­mous pres­sure right now, and these Results Count con­cepts remind them how much they know and are able to do.”

Watch a record­ed pre­sen­ta­tion intro­duc­ing Results Count

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