Trust is the glue that holds organizations together. Unfortunately, some leaders don’t grasp this truth and work in ways that destroy, rather than build trust in their schools. They undermine their own goals, many of which may be very worthy. Goals can only be reached if the support exists to faithfully implement the plans to do so. It is unlikely this will happen in a culture marked by mistrust.
In this post, I list 4 ways that school leaders can demonstrate that they are worthy of gaining the trust of those they supervise.
If you violate the norms of the school culture and come across like a bull in a china shop, it is unlikely your ideas will gain more than grudging acceptance. You will be viewed with mistrust because the only person you listened to, was yourself.
- Listen and learn about the organization before making any changes
- Learn the culture and history of the school
- Find out what programs worked and failed in the past
- Focus on developing positive relationships with staff
If the staff believes that you are not credible in you pronouncements, why should they follow you?
- Involve staff in creating school priorities
- Provide reasoned arguments for the adoption of a new program or technique
- Demonstrate your concern for students and staff through your comments and actions
- Demonstrate an excellent knowledge about your program, including research to support your position
Think about those people you have worked with who were and were not reliable. Which ones gained your trust?
- Can you be counted on to follow through on your commitments?
- Act in ways that merit confidence in you as a person
- Be consistent in your demeanor and approach to problems
- Be visible; show up on time; don’t over commit
Is it possible to have trust in a leader who acts unfairly? Why?
- Share the credit for school successes
- Treat all with the respect they deserve
- When making decisions get input from those who will be directly affected by the decision
- Provide staff with specific recommendations for improvement and give time to implement them before taking punitive steps
- Show that you are willing to assess ideas from others based upon their value, even if different from your own positions
A culture where trust permeates the school allows for genuine collaboration. It is the medium through which you gain high staff morale and a commitment to excellence. It is the only path to success for you and your school.