Building Trust and Relationships

In his book What Great Teachers Do Differently, Todd Whitaker writes, “If you don’t have great teachers, you don’t have a great school and nothing else is going to change that.” Furthermore, if we do not build relationships and trust with teachers, then we are limiting how great they can really be.  Trust and relationships are everything, and we know this. Here are five strategies to help you build trust and relationships as you head into the new year.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”

Crisis Jami

Let your staff know that you too, make mistakes. This will help them to see you in a different light. Part of our job is to identify our staff’s mistakes and help them improve upon them. As an administrator there is always going to be an unequal balance of power and therefore rarely will our staff point out our mistakes. If from time to time we are able to talk about our own mistakes, it may help our staff to worry just a little bit less about making mistakes themselves.

“When you put family first, work never comes second—your life comes together.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Make at least half of your interactions this week with your staff about things other than school. Your staff needs to know that you see them as human beings with families and interests outside of school and not just people who educate children. This can easily get lost in the rush of meetings, observations and the day-to-day management of a school. Obviously, the education of the children must be the number one priority of the school. But, it mustn’t be the only thing you talk about. The next time you see a staff member, resist the urge to mention or discuss anything educational. Ask them about their kids, their weekend, or the last movie they saw. Besides relaxing your staff, it will make you more fun to be around and more approachable.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia

Make an effort to complement a staff member in front of others. This not only makes the staff member feel good, it also lets them know that you notice things other than their faults. Everyone likes to be complemented. Make it specific, and make it in genuine . We ask our teachers to point out their students’ strengths, why can’t we do the same for our staff? And, most likely they will Pay It Forward to someone else that very day.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.”Pooh?” He whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A.A. Milne

Give your staff the gift of your time. Make an effort to spend time each day with as many staff members as possible. In his powerful talk, “Why Leaders Eat Last”, Simon Sinek mentions how the most important thing a leader can give is his or her time. Our staff knows that, like them, we are incredibly busy and thus when we give the gift of time it means a lot to them. Sinek explains that this is because time is the one thing that a leader can never get back.

Finally, if you get the chance, watch Simon Sinek’s talk titled “Leaders Eat Last”, or read his book titled Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Other’s Don’t.  It will change the way you think about leadership forever.

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