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Invest in One Another

As the leader of STN Media Group, I have come to the realization that some things are simply out of my control. I encourage my team to do the best we can with the things that are in our power to manage. This paradigm or mindset helps us be the best company we can be every day.

Pick from the multitude of distractions happening in the world that are causing you stress. Even worse are the things you can’t predict that cause anxiety. The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for companies and school districts alike. Are you experiencing a school bus driver shortage or supply chain issues? Any of this sound all too familiar?

One way I change my paradigm is to step away from my daily routine. By changing my physical location and surroundings, I can focus and experience a paradigm shift in my mental thinking. I have been so ready for in-person conferences to be back. Conferences have provided a great opportunity to disconnect from my daily work routine and focus on new ideas without distractions.

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I constantly strive to challenge myself to grow personally and professionally. It is refreshing being among peers and experts that are open to the idea of learning. Networking is important, too, as it provides fresh perspectives.

At the STN EXPO and TSD Conference, I always hear attendees share stories about the challenges and operational pain points that they are experiencing daily. And guess what? That person they were speaking with knew exactly what they were going through.

A key element of problem-solving is communicating with vendor partners. Our industry is dealing with big issues and suppliers have solutions to help. Routing software and technology has been the saving grace for some. Last month on the School Transportation Nation podcast, Rosalyn Vann-Jackson, executive director of enrollment and support services for Oklahoma’s Broken Arrow Public Schools and before that the director of transportation for Tulsa Public Schools, shared the importance of technology utilization with a multi-tier routing system, centralized stops, and a plan for brown outs, if needed.

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Many leaders are struggling to manage a constant flow of uncertainty inside and outside of their company or school transportation operation while others are thriving. Regardless of the next curveball thrown at you, I believe that flexibility, adaptability and objectivity are three invaluable skills that should be instilled in teams during these chaotic times. Be sure you foster that culture within your organization to enhance performance and develop your team. Your culture and core values are critical to your team’s ability to handle uncertainty.

Business expert and STN EXPO Reno keynote speaker Meridith Elliott-Powell’s new book “Thrive: Strategies to Turn Uncertainty Into Competitive Advantage” shares some big takeaways and research. For instance:

  • 76% of business leaders say that uncertainty is one of the most important yet least understood concepts in business.
  •  84% say that being able to lead through uncertainty effectively is more important than ever before.
  • 84% believe that handling uncertainty well is a sign of professionalism.
  •  84% say that leaders who proactively look at, manage and communicate change are more likely to be successful.
  • 78% report that being flexible impacts your company’s ability to be successful in uncertain times.

As industry leaders, we must invest in human capital to succeed. It’s imperative that we create highly engaged teams, build succession plans and understand how to balance being highly focused and highly flexible to successfully navigate these uncertain times. The one thing you can control is investing in your own professional development. I want to personally invite you to join us this fall at STN EXPO Indianapolis, the TSD Conference in Dallas/Frisco, and STN EXPO Reno. You can learn more at stnexpo.com. Let’s thrive together!

Editor’s Note: As reprinted in the October 2021 issue of School Transportation News.

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