Who Can You Trust At School? Part 2: Creating a Culture of Trust

Creating A Culture of Trust At Your School

I don’t know any administrators who would say “I don’t want a trusting environment at my school.” In fact, we shout hooray to those administrators who can proudly say that they have a robust culture of trust. In fact, we should make those school leaders are mentors! Sadly, many of our educational institutions are cultures where trust is lacking or non-existent.

How do we assess the culture of trust?

It would be interesting to interview school administrators and ask if have they have thought about or assessed trust at their schools. The responses may vary especially if the organization is struggling. If you’re reading this blog hopefully you have begun thinking about your school and trust. Here’s one activity you can use on ranking trust at your school.

On scale of 1-10,How does your school rank regarding trust?
1 non-existent<--------------------------------------->10 robust and thriving!

In 2006, famous author Stephen Covey provided a list of characteristics organizations face when trust is lacking.
 A dysfunctional environment
 Militant stakeholders
 Intense micromanagement
 Redundant hierarchy
 Punishing systems and structures
Perhaps the greatest damage a lack of trust can produce in a school is indifference. Sad but true, numerous examples are readily available from school leaders, staff, and even students, about an indifferent school.

Recently, one of my school administrator friends shared with me that her school had hired a new headmaster. She commented about the school’s excitement with the board’s decision, and described the school environment as upbeat and positive. This school’s could have been the best example to define a school of indifference. The cause of this lack of trust was as a result of the head of school’s behavior. During his tenure actions were taken to cause strife and tension between administrators through gossip. He demanded and approved the line-up of all athletic teams. The only good ideas were his ideas, and no one was ever celebrated. Some of the staff left and others tolerated his behavior, but after awhile, the leadership team quit sharing ideas or solutions and stayed only because they need a job. In fact, the faculty and staff’s behavior was to keep their heads down, their mouths shut, and do only what needed to be done so as not to be humiliated by the head of school. One can only wonder how many years it will take for some of the staff at the school to trust their school leader again. Oh, the damage indifference has caused for so many!

Determining what must be done by the school leader

Creating a culture of trust takes time, a plan, and a determination by the head of school. In the previous blog “Who Can You Trust at School?” school leaders were given some great ideas to personally help themselves in developing trust. One suggestion would be to meet with the leadership team at your school and answer the following questions to determine what must be done.

1. Do we promote collaboration and make it a priority at the school?
2. Do we consider relationships important among members at the school?
3. Do we respect and acknowledge all stakeholders at the school, even those who are difficult?
4. Do we consistently communicate the school’s mission and vision and exemplify its importance by our behavior?
5. Do our words and actions reflect an organization of integrity?
6. Do we allow people to be human and accept that mistakes will be made?
7. Most important, do we promote the learning of our students?

How is your school’s culture of trust? Is it where it should be, or does work need to be done?
Trust is tough to gain and even tougher to recapture once it is lost. As a school leader, be courageous and committed to the school’s success and a culture of trust, it is worth it. “As a leader, investing time to build trust offers many rewards and relationships. Ken Blanchard (2013)”

Please email with any examples or experiences where a culture of trust was thriving or non-existent.