One of the most important books that I have read in my career is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. In his book, Lencioni outlines the elements needed to build strong, cohesive teams. Here is a link to the book: Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Trust is the foundation in which productive teams are build upon. Remember: Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest (Seth Godin).
Here are five ways a principal can build trust:
- Be visible
Closed doors leave a lot to the imagination. The principal’s door should be open as much as possible. This will allow parents who do enter the office to pick up their child early or to sign in to volunteer to see you. A quick hello can go a long way in building trust and respect.
Some principals make changes without consulting staff members, teachers, or students. These changes are made centrally and without input from those who will be required to make the changes. Strong school leaders listen to their leadership team, parents, and students when it comes to either making changes or keeping things the same.
3. Be Transparent
A school is no place for smoke and mirrors. Taking on a cold war approach to communication and information gathering is not necessary. Decisions should never be made in a back room without representation from different stakeholder groups. Leaders build up social capital in their team, not create rubber stamp delegations.
4. Walk the Walk
Principals must not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. This is meant literally and figuratively. Get out of the office. Walk around, visit classrooms, work the parking lot, talk to parents. Do not be the invisible principal. Invisible principals spend their days in their office with the door closed sending emails. Get out of the office. Take a walk.
5. Be Student-Centered
Principals need to be student-centered. They do not take sides other than do what is in the best interest of the students. While that might make a principal unpopular from time to time, it will also make them respected. You can’t have trust without respect. Being student-centered keeps the focus on the purpose of schools – to educate children.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.principalsdesk.org.