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Develop Leadership Qualities That Promote Trust

By John Almond - August 11, 2011

(Third in a series)

In this third of a series of articles, the attempt is to provide additional strategies/practices that promote trust and build positive relationships. As previously mentioned, creating a school culture that promotes academic success for all students, requires school leaders to develop and nurture relationships among all stakeholders.

The following suggestions are simply food for thought as you attempt to establish yourself as an instructional leader who produces results.

  1. Involve staff in decision making. Staff members need to be treated as professionals, and they should be valued for the decisions that they make in terms of instruction. It is not necessary to consistently point out the shortcomings of an individual. Rather than calling attention to the weaknesses that you see, I would suggest that you place greater emphasis on the positives that you observe. This positive approach, in my opinion, will facilitate needed changes more quickly than finding fault. Private and public praise goes a long way in terms of developing trust and establishing an atmosphere where staff members know that they can come to you when they have a concern or a success to celebrate.
  2. Support risk and encourage new ideas. If you ask staff members for their ideas, it is important to have discussion, and then use ideas generated from that discussion. Asking for ideas only to ignore them is a sure way to put a damper on relationships and trust. If necessary, present ideas for discussion with parameters that will help guide the conversation. Developing topics for group discussion at faculty meetings and grade level meetings is one way to establish a professional learning community. Supporting innovation and risk taking demonstrates respect for teachers as learners and as professionals whose insights are valuable.
  3. Express value for dissenting views. Being able to express concerns and disagreement without fear of reprisal is essential to building trust and establishing relationships. Regarding conflict as potentially constructive helps build supportive human relationships, because it allows us to truly deal with our differences. It also allows teachers and other staff members to feel secure in providing honest input and participating in a meaningful way in school decision making.
  4. Always Remain Confidential. There will be many times as the principal and instructional leader that you will be called upon to keep a secret. Over the course of my career, there were many times that I was placed in a position of being a marriage counselor, father, or friend. As a principal, you hear about every problem imaginable from broken marriages to an employee’s son or daughter not making a particular team. No matter what the problem, always offer to lend a helping hand, but you can never share what is shared with you. Even when another staff member comes to you about their colleague’s problem, you have to keep your knowledge of the situation confidential.

In my next and last article in this series, which will discuss building trust and establishing relationships, I will attempt to share a few more strategies and techniques as well as tie it all together.

To read the first article in this series, click here.

To read the second article in this series, click here.

Editor's Note:  John Almond is a Senior Advisor with the educational consulting firm Total School Solutions (TSS).