“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational
principle that holds all relationships.”
Almost every time I speak to a group of educators, I ask the question, “What is the most important relationship word?” Although several viable answers are offered, almost immediately, someone will suggest the word, “Trust.” Like most things in our noble profession, I am not sure there is a right answer, but I am sure that “Trust” is my answer. Whether we are talking about superintendent-principal, principal-teacher, teacher-student, husband-wife, parent-child, or friend-friend, the “essential ingredient” in the relationship, as Covey suggests, is trust. The people I have most admired and respected in my personal and professional lives have been people in whom I have complete trust.
This trust comes in many forms, but at its core is a calm and confident response of, “Yes” to the question, “Can I trust you?” This broad question can be broken down further, of course, when deciding whether we trust our colleagues. Here are but a few examples:
- Can I trust you to do what you say you will do?
- Can I trust that the decision you are making is based on what is best for kids?
- Can I trust you when you say something will or will not work?
- Can I trust you when you recommend someone to me for a position in our school or district?
- Can I trust the feedback you are providing me?
- Can I trust that the answer you are giving me is the same answer you are giving someone else?
- Can I trust that you have the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to do what is needed in your role?
- Can I trust your work ethic?
1. Be There
2. Show You Care
3. Provide Resources
4. Communicate Regularly
5. Involve Others
6. Celebrate Success
7. Value Diversity and Dissent
8. Support Innovation
9. Address Underperformance
10. Demonstrate Personal Integrity
I believe these traits hold true whether you are a classroom teacher or a school or district administrator. Which of the ten resonate most with you? Obviously, I consider each of these to be critically, and perhaps equally, important, but one of the ten seems a just a bit different than the other nine. Many of these seem like positive and even “fun” things to do. Number 9, however, is not so fun, yet if we fail to do it, the students and staff we lead will no longer trust that what we said was important was really all that important. We must hold everyone--starting with ourselves--accountable for doing what we said we would do.
In our schools, trust can be contagious in a similar way. When principals trust superintendents, they, in turn, behave in ways that lead teachers to trust in them. When teachers trust their building administrators, they behave in ways that lead students to trust in them. Trust is indeed “the glue of life.” When we truly believe in each other, we ignite a culture of trust in our school communities, and nothing can stop us then. Behaving in ways that make others trust us and, in turn, trusting in others to do the same, is another way we Teach, Learn, and Lead with Passion!