Relationships, Trust and Teaming

Our school has a newly formed elementary school leadership team made up of three learning leaders, two vice principals and one principal. The creation of the team was the result of moving to a one principal concept, to lead the work of the fine professionals working at  JIS’ two elementary campuses. When I accepted the opportunity to assume this new role, after having been the principal of one of the two campuses during my first four years at JIS, I remember thinking it would take some time before we would see the results of our team’s  effort to unify the two campuses.

As we close the first semester and look back at the work accomplished, I admit to being pleasantly surprised.  Not only has there been exponential progress made in areas of identified curricular and pedagogical focus, but we now have a platform from which to lead as a team that did not exist before.  So how did this happen?

Well, here is where reading  Linda Hill and Kent Lineback’s piece, Three Things that Managers Should be Doing Everyday has inspired me to write about the work of our team. While enjoying their treatise on the three imperatives of managing and leading, I could not help but make multiple connections to the work our team set out to do this year: creating a unified team, built on a strong foundation of trust,  through developing, nurturing and sustaining relationships.

We began the year by selecting our rallying cry, “How do the relationships we build support learning?” This guiding question is posted in each campus office and referred to constantly as we process decisions and go through the day to day life of a large school. Recognizing what the most important thing is for us this year has led us to incrementally add to the savings in our Trust account.

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A tableau the team used, at the opening faculty meeting of the year, to represent trust.

Perhaps the most critical ingredient in our growth as a team, has been the intentional desire to spend time together… learning about one another, with one another and from one another; and yes, in the process of doing so- at times- disagreeing with one another. We have felt the comfortable tension that disagreements generate and rejoiced when we have seen the results of the combined mental stretch experienced.

As leaders we often struggle with the concept of time, specifically sorting out what gives. There is so much going on it is tough to decide where one puts the attention on a given day. I appreciated Hill’s and Lineback’s reminder on how the three leading “imperatives” ( building trust, building teams and networking) are not single items that one can choose to focus on discreetly…

“Instead, strong, effective leaders manage and lead through the daily work. They do this in the way they define, assign, structure, talk about, review, and generally guide that work. They are masters at using the daily work and its inevitable crises to perform their work as managers and leaders.”

Building strong relationships develops trust over time. Our ES Leadership Team will continue on the journey it embarked upon last August, as it embraced the opportunity to take our elementary division into a new era. By all accounts, it has been a smooth transition, and one that we are pleased to say has been the result of multiple individuals working together towards a common goal. What an amazing opportunity to lead, grow and learn it continues to be!

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