Leading Through Trust. A Reflection fROM my NPQML
Clearly trust is a hugely important element in the atmosphere of a school ecosystem. Given the level of vulnerability of our students the organic trust (Bryk and Schneider (2002)) within the school community is of paramount importance. However it should never be unquestioning. This would lead to complacency in, and over reliance on the effectiveness of procedures rather than the relational trust that should be (and is) proven and tested over and over. This is developed through the interactions between all teams, parents, and students.
In this case I am talking about relational trust both in terms of freedom for teachers to teach what they believe is best in the best way, as well as for staff working in caring for our students throughout the day and night. Our learning community relies on a high level of trust between all parties it cannot be fully effective or meaningful on contractual trust alone. It must be built on relationships more than contracts and financial incentives. I don’t mean staff should work for free, but that if money was the driving force then motivation to do the job is not the best interests of the child (I know not mutually exclusive we’ve all got to eat. Discuss!)
In my immediate AHT team I believe Self Trust is the most discernible form of trust I consider and reflect on daily. There are some elements of the role I am confident in doing, behaviour support to give an example. I have proved that building up personal credibility and the confidence of staff in my capability to fulfill this role. There are also areas where I have attempted to implement a change or provided guidance to staff that hasn’t worked, this failure could destroy my credibility – If it wasn’t for the trust built up over time. These situations demonstrate the importance of “relationship trust” (Covey 2006). This is where consistent behaviour in our interactions, and having the confidence to admit failure, can buffer the hit our perceived capability could have taken. This leads onto resilience and developing an ethos of risk taking where FAIL is more “first attempt in learning” than the final result.
In the AHT role within our school Organisational Trust has been hugely developed over the last year. Whilst we are still moving through the process we are now somewhere around the point of empowerment, having rapidly moved from a Newtonian Static system towards inter-dependency, certainly within the leadership structure. (John West-Burnham )
I personally would like to develop Market Trust – In the following paragraph will focus on trust between our team, students and parents rather than colleagues as I are new to the role and I would not like to assume. Although I think we all try to develop market trust with our colleagues through modeling expectations and holding ourselves to a high standard.
Following the now defunct link to www.neweconomics.org led me to the link to the more recent research focus on the importance of wellbeing in society. Having a focus on staff and student wellbeing is a way we as a leadership team can enhance trust within our school see the link here. http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/five-ways-to-well-being-postcards
This is an initiative that has been used effectively by school leaders such as Martyn Reah from Eggar’s school in Hampshire. Martyn has used this research to develop not only organizational trust in his own school but also societal trust. He has done this through his teacher 5 a day initiative based on these 5 concepts. Specifically for teachers to take time out to consider their own wellbeing so they are at their best when working with the students. To connect, exercise, notice, learn, volunteer. Initiatives supported by SLT which serves to build relational trust.
As you can see from the attached map the UK ranks as middling in terms of wellbeing. Definitely a must try harder mark there.
Whilst the perception of the school within the community is important of more immediate (not lesser I stress) concern to us as middle leaders is how we (leadership team, teaching teams, support teams, residential teams) are perceived by the students and their parents. We can influence this in hundreds of tiny ways each day and that can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of all through the building of trust and positive relationships. Whilst I believe we do this very well it is such an important area that it needs constant attention. The more trust parents have in us the less stress all parties are under when issues arise, we can often deal with them in partnership rather than as a conflict.