I wrote about this same topic in July 2022, so why am I repeating it? Because it’s of vital important to leadership and reinforcing what we know helps us to deepen our understanding
To reiterate the opening of my original blog post, Trust is the foundation of relationships, and as you know, we are in the relationship business. Either we keep our relationships strong, or we will soon find ourselves out of business. Trust takes time to build. And it can be easily lost.
As a leader your integrity needs to be unquestioned. You must be careful not to let slip things spoken to you in confidence or things you’re aware of because your work crosses grade level boundaries. What one teacher shares with you, you cannot share with another. And if you make a mistake – own it and correct it as soon as possible.
Take time to ask: How trustworthy are you? Have you ever broken trust? How good are you at building trust? In addition to the ways I discussed in the July blog, John Millen presents these Five Ways to Communicate as a Trusted Leader:
- Share Yourself – In addition to learning the interests of those with whom you are cultivating a relationship, don’t forget to let them know who you are. It requires you to be vulnerable in some ways, but the result is increased connections and sometimes, new understanding. Relationships need to be a two-way street.
- Change Your Mindset from ‘I’ to ‘We’ – Don’t separate yourself from the teachers even if your goals and missions seem different. Find the places where there is overlap. Although it’s become cliché, there is truth to the adage, “There is no ’I’ in ‘Team.’ It’s not a case of “I would like to …” but rather “Together we can….”
- Admit your failures – This is a tough one. Leaders are supposed to be confident. Admitting failure seems counterintuitive. But when a project misses its mark, accept and admit it. Discuss how “we” (see #2) can do it differently next time or tweak it to make it work better. And there’s another benefit. Admitting your failure gives permission to others to admit theirs. It will grow your relationships. Just remember to keep what was shared confidential.
- Ask open-ended questions – You do that when you ask how a project might have worked better rather than was it a success. When a fuller response is needed, you increase the depth of your communications. The more authentic your communications are, the better your relationships are. You will be amazed by what you can learn. Asking for a deeper response shows you value the other person’s ideas. When you value others, they respond in kind. It’s a win-win.
- Listen more than you speak –You’ve asked an open-ended question – listen to the answer. You can’t learn about someone else if you are doing most of the talking. If you are an extrovert like me, you may have to continually work at this. This is an area where introvert leaders have strength. You are not really listening if you are waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can say what’s on your mind. If necessary, quickly write down your thought and get back to focusing on what is being said.
As Millen says early in his post and in his conclusion, “Trust is everything.” It is the foundation of relationships which we need for our program’s success. Building relationships is a core component of what we must do as leaders. With whom do you want to build a relationship? Look for the ways you can build trust and those relationships will flourish.