Monday, April 22, 2013

Trust: Essential for Successful Leaders

I just finished a new book, The Trust Factor: Strategies for School Leaders, available from Eye on Education. It discusses perhaps the single most important factor in the success of any leader---trust. Trust can accelerate your work improving your school or the lack of trust can be a real impediment to your success. The authors, Julie Combs, Stacey Edmonson and Sandra Harris provide real-world strageiges that leaders can use to creating a trusting and respectful school.

One skill the authors identify is developing good listening habits. They describe eight listening habits to avoid if you want to create trust.
  • Do not say how you handled similar situations or how you would feel in their shoes.
  • Do not change the focus back to you. Avoid telling them about the time you had the same problem. Remember, this is not about you.
  • Don't try to start giving them resoruces or solutions unless they ask you for ideas. Active listenign does not mean you are there to solve their problems.
  • Don't judge them. Statements such as "What were you thinking?" or "That's awful!" imply they did something wrong. Avoid saying whether they are right or wrong. Judgment can increase their fears about sharing and cause them to withdraw.
  • Let them finish. It is easy to interrup or jump in, but these behaviors disrupt the conversation and change the focus of the conversatkion as well as your role as a listener.
  • Be comfortable with silence and pauses. These gaps are healtny; you do not have to fill all of the spaces with words.
  • Give them your undivided attention. If your mind wanders, grab it and bring it bac.
  • Do not think about your reply before they have finished talking and had a chance to say what they want to say. This action is ingterrupting without opening your mouth. Again, your role as the listender has been disrupted, and you are no longer focused on what they are saying or on their need to be heard.
    I'd enjoy hearing from you about trust and the strategies you use to build and promote trust in your school.

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