Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Impact of Trust - #SAVMP 4

SAVMP #4  The Impact of Trust

This summer I reread Max De Pree's Leadership is an Art.  He made a relevant point about how giving group members a say is a very good practice as "Structures do not have anything to do with trust.  People build trust."  (I might recap De Pree's Participative Management in a future post).  I also read a tweet recently from @differNtiated4u that said "Are you committed or compliant?"

These two quotes had been rolling around in my head for a few days while I was starting to prepare for a return to school or as my kids call it 'the end ... of summer'.  During a conversation with one of my kids I let them know that as the principal it is in my responsibility to ensure that the school is ready to roll for opening day.  I had to answer that I don't get extra pay for the time I spend before opening day but it makes the world smoother in September to invest time in August.  I then had a deeper reflection about this practice that meshed with the topic of #SAVMP week 4 - Trust.

Let me explain further with the example of two Superintendents with the same message:

         "In August you must ensure that school is cleaned and ready to receive students,
           staff are in place, students are registered, and schedules are complete."

Superintendent 1 emphasizes the words 'AUGUST' and  'MUST'.  Then acts with check ins, phone calls and scheduled meetings.  The result is a team of adminstrators who are more Compliant  (Inclined to obey rules, esp. to an excessive degree).

Superintendent 2 emphasizes the words 'ENSURE' and 'READY'.  Then acts with a welcome back email.  The result is a team of administrators who are more Committed  (Entrusted, especially for safekeeping).

I am very fortunate to work with a team of superintendents who operate as Number 2 in the scenario.  When I was first in administration we were more like Number 1 though.  The modelling that I have experienced from our Superintendent in this practice alone has impacted my own leadership practice.
When I began this journey as a school principal I engaged as many staff as I could in conversations about the school, the community.  Listening to staff reflect on themselves and their passions helped me build trust.  I didn't come in and tell people what to do and when to do it, I let them tell me what they needed to do and when they needed to do it.  I began to foster committed staff not compliant staff.

Eventually we began speaking about their 'why'.  Why did they work in a school, this school, this community....what was their PASSION for being there and for working with learners? I began encouraging staff to embrace things that work, release old ways, and try new things.  We collectively dreamed about all the possibilities for our school community.  I then had the staff make goals that they were passionate about, followed up with relevant PD, resources and where possible, time.

Committed staff get this early and run with it.  They recognize that I will trust them to try explore, make mistakes (Get messy as Ms. Frizzle says).  Their classrooms become places of energy and excitement.  They also reflect on their journey and will make another change if it isn't working.

Compliant staff are cautious if not resistant.  They want to know the expectations from above, the timeline for deployment and the consequences of failure.  It will take a longer time to grow trust with these staff. 

I will be the first to say that I have some pretty clay feet as an administrator but I think that we all do.  That is why we need to operate as a team in our school.  As our team experiences successes and continues to engage in healthy conversations about our best practices, I believe we all become more committed.  I know that trust is at the heart of this relationship and I look forward to earning and keeping their trust every year.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sighting Leadership #SAVMP

August 26 is the second anniversary of one of my life's biggest projects:  my wife and I committed to renovate our home.  Although we actually spent years planning, drafting, and creating the vision, August 26 was the day of no return.  We invited a bunch of friends and family to bring their tools and help us cut the roof off our house!  In 12 hours we physically removed half our home and began the real work of renovating.  I'm happy to say that after doing most of the work ourselves (except for a couple of trades we hired and a lot of friends and family assists) we have the home that we envisioned.
When I speak & teach I tend to use illustrations and metaphors.  My house project provides me with great material for leadership which I may weave into several posts.

Three things today:
1.  Sighting is the act of observing and watching.  We need a good sighting to direct our path.  In my house renovation my family used a PATH planning tool several years ago to create our vision.  Turns out that we have actually hit most of the dreams on that old Path.  When you are beginning a new project what is your sighting tool?  Are you starting in the right direction?

2.  All planning is just planning until you hit the Day of No Return.  Our roof razing day was one...nowhere to go but forward!  Do you have a Day of No Return in your project? How will you recognize it?

3.  You can't do it alone.  We didn't know how to build a house when we started but we found the right helpers.  As I read about  @gcourous creative idea for #SAVMP I recognized the help for a project that I have been thinking about for years - blogging.  Have you identified helpers for your project? 

In my role as an educational leader I think of ways that I can help the folks I work with in their journeys and projects.  How can I help them get their sights set, support them when they make that commitment and most importantly be the person who assists them on the journey?  Surprisingly I have found that by doing these types of things I am suddenly living in the home I envisioned.

Thanks to #SAVMP for this next project.  I'm looking forward to learning and leading!