Trust and Respect in Leadership
Like many others I was promoted into positions of responsibility through being good at doing my job, rather than demonstrating good management or leadership qualities.
As head of a mathematics department in a large secondary school I was suddenly presented with people management issues and paperwork I didn’t even know existed. The one thing I didn’t have to deal with was anybody offering help in my role. Later in my first headship I rang the head of advisory services and asked for help. I asked what I should be thinking about, and what 3 things should be my top priority. He asked me what I thought they should be—reflecting back all of my questions to me. I refused to have him back!
Instead, I embarked on a PhD-depth frantic read of everything about management leadership, and attended as many courses (in my holiday time) that I could. Talking with my head teacher colleagues quickly confirmed that my experiences were not uncommon. Thankfully, today, 25 years after, things have changed, or at least they have in some parts of the world. And Of course I have formed my own opinions on what is a solid approach to this thing called leadership.
My view is that just two words, trust and respect, capture the essence of what’s needed for the most effective leadership style. With trust and respect we can build a system, in which people can do their jobs, relax, have fun and achieve. Establishing trust and respect requires each stakeholder to hold both trust and respect for all others. This, of course, is where things can break down, unless all of the people in your community share the same vision. And even when the vision is shared there needs to be complete buy-in to the strategies and tactics adopted to execute towards that vision.
In education you can construct a strategic framework to hang onto and this is actually really easy to do. A shared set of goals certainty soon develops commitment—and collaboration soon follows. Crucially, once the community is working within the framework towards the vision and culture of trust and respect, it means that most decisions people make are not questioned. Which means that you can trust the decisions are usually right.
Jim Wynn is Chief Education Officer at Promethean and is responsible for the company’s education strategy. Jim has been head teacher of two secondary schools in the UK, in which he pioneered the use of ICT.