Friday, 18 August 2017

Lead Like A Pirate Blog Hop Week Three: Rapport

Earning Trust as a Leader
"As a leader, every action you take (or don't take), every interaction you have, every decision you make or leave unmade, every expression on your face, the tone in your voice, or the body language you convey - everything about you - either earns or erodes trust". #LEADLAP 

It is amazing how much impact the way that the members of the SLT team speak to people, has on the welfare of staff and ultimately on the school community.  I have been making a conscious effort since the beginning of term two last year to end conversations with staff in a positive light. I am also very aware of the need to greet parents everyday with a cheerful smile and a confident manner.  (This of course goes for children as well, but I think that teachers probably do that towards children more instinctively). Being friendly and positive inspires trust.

 I am not talking about the "difficult conversations" where cutting to the chase is necessary, but about the professional discussions we have with our staff around pedagogical shifts. I can still remember the sinking feeling that I had, the day that I realised that my passion alone was not enough to inspire people to change their practice. I realised that I had done some damage in the way that I implied that the efforts of the team I was working with (collaborative practice) were not good  enough. While I knew at the time that my "next steps" advice was falling like a lead balloon, it was too late at that time to redeem the situation.

 It didn't take much reflection to realise that I had failed in my half hearted attempt to congratulate them on what they had achieved so far in their efforts to get their heads around collaboration. Since that  day, the one when I knew that I had completely taken the wind out their sails, I have been much more focused on moving forwards with less speed and more encouragement. I make sure that I include something positive in every professional conversation. When working with my crew, I try to "make it a priority to build rapport and relationships". (pg 30 #LEADLAP). I try to listen and show that I value their input. " Pirate leaders embrace opportunities to hear multiple opportunities to hear multiple perspectives, and they value the contributions each person makes to the organisation - and they tell them so" (pg. 30)

In 'Leading in a Culture of Change" Michael Fullan in his study of District Two, one of his study districts in Ontario, shares his findings and describes the four conditions for developing trust and the positive outcomes of establishing a culture of trust.  (Fullan, 2003).

Fullan 2003


  1. You make some really good points Maire!
    I am going to take the one about leaving every staff discussion with something positive. So important and just lately I think I have been forgetting. I'm pretty good with bolstering up teachers and staff, but I can think of a couple of occasions recently where I have probably given the leadership team the impression they needed to try harder (discussion around lifting achievement of priority students which I am very passionate about).
    Michael Fullen - always so wise. I'm going to get that book out again now - you've inspired me!

  2. I wonder Maire if your experience is similar to mine....trying to lead change when you are/we're relatively new in a school is a lot harder when you don't have a class of your own, or are seen to have a 'visible track record' amongst the crew as being successful with innovation. Gaining respect and trust takes a different pathway than in familiar settings.

  3. Hi Marie,
    I enjoyed reading your post on Chapter 3. I smiled when I read about your 'sinking feeling' and thought 'Ah, yes, been there, done that.' the great thing is at least you are aware of the impact you had and that through your reflection and remembering that learning is a life long process you may approach things differently next time. I also agree with your statement that teachers instinctively are friendly and positive towards students, but sometimes need to remember this with parents too. Thanks for sharing - Amanda

  4. Food for thought Maire, thanks. You are so right about our interactions with staff and no matter what our intent, I often find that my crew often misinterpret my messages. I have learned thought that the timing of the message can be critically important to how it is received.

  5. Thanks for your comments. I am so enjoying tapping into the collective wisdom of some great leaders!