Who Can You Trust At School?

In the December, 2013 Forbes article, Glen Llopis listed “The Seven Reasons Employees Don’t Trust Their Leaders”. Mr. Llopis shared a recent Associated Press survey about Americans and their beliefs on trust. Two-thirds of Americans don’t trust each other. As Americans, we consistently process our interactions with people on the premise of “You just can’t be too careful.” A lack of trust can be attributed to a number of reasons such as the behaviors of political and religious leaders, inappropriate choices by family members, and even agenda-driven employers in the workplace. Sadly, this lack of trust is also evident in our school communities.

Today’s school community experiences parents who don’t respect and trust the teacher in wanting what is best for their child. Athletic coaches aren’t supported in their decisions regarding who plays in a game. Teachers can’t trust the principal because of decisions made that impact instruction. It also isn’t unusual for a headmaster to believe that his leadership isn’t trusted and supported by the board, and he expects to be fired at any moment. Distrust among school members in the school is a serious problem as it produces low morale and less productivity that will eventually impact student learning.

Joel Garfinkle lists four executive tools leaders can use to develop trust. School leaders can utilize these four tools along with strategies to enhance trust in their schools.

“Four Executive Coaching Tools Leaders Can Use to Build Trust in a Nontrusting Environment .”

1. BE CONSISTENT-What you do every day should be the same. As a school leader, exceed your job description and be the best at what you do. Align your actions with your words.

2. SHOW RESPECT-Value and affirm the work your staff is doing at your school. Listen and consider the ideas your stakeholders share. Be aware and learn what matters most to those whom you serve.

3. BE TRANSPARENT-Operate in an authentic manner. Be willing to give as well as receive feedback. Communicate on a consistent basis but always remember to use good judgment on what information is to be shared. Don’t give the impression that you’re hiding information.

4. HAVE THEIR BACK-Show genuine concern, support, and compassion for your staff. Be honest with your feedback and give time for improvement. Provide opportunities such as executive coaching to help staff members achieve their goals, aspirations, and personal best.

Take a few moments and rank the trust environment at your school. Are the four tools discussed consistently taking place by you and your administration? If you and your school meet and exceed the four executive coaching tools, what purposeful steps are you taking to maintain the high performance of this trusting environment? If you are at various stages in your trust environment, which of the four tools is most important to you? What will you commit to do to enhance trust at your school?

One proven professional development program for schools to enhance trust is executive coaching. Executive coaches work with successful educators to enhance strengths, leadership skills, potential, and motivation, as well as identify those blind spots that may be slowing down effectiveness. Besides the affirmation and support executive coaching provides, it is another instrument the school can use to show value and invest in those high performing educators.

“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people but it takes time and patience” Stephen R. Covey.

Stay tuned for further discussion on trust. I look forward to your comments regarding trust.