Innovative Instructional Leadership: Truth 5 - 7
The following post coincides with the reading of the Chapter 5 - 7 in the book The Truth About Leadership by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.
I continue to be impressed with how this book looks at specific ideas of good leadership and dives deep into what it takes to execute those ideas. The book is concerned with both the objective parts of leadership and the challenges which one must overcome in order to be a successful leader and make change. Chapters 5-7 discuss the 3 main "truths" of leadership: you can't do it alone, trust, and the role of challenges. The narratives in the book give excellent examples of the challenges of becoming a successful leader and the tools needed to overcome those challenges. The book does a good job of building on one "truth" as it introduces another.
Trust (Chapter 6)
This chapter starts out with an undeniable fact that trust is imperative to being a successful leader. On pg 75 the book states that people "trust a stranger more than their boss." As a leader of change, this shows just how important it is to build a foundation of trust between the people you are working with right off the bat.
Change cannot happen without trust. This coincides with the previous chapter Truth 5: You Can't Do it Alone. Change requires multiple people. In order to build relationships with those people trust must happen. Change is all about relationships. People must be willing to follow you in order to implement an idea. As leaders we must empower other people to work towards a common goal. If someone says that they will do something, we must trust it will get done, or else the potential change will stall in its tracks.
Trust is protection. Trust is communication. Trust is the ability to get something done. While we know we need trust, getting trust is not always easy. One must first trust before they can be trusted. This isn't always easy. Especially when you are a leader. While in a position where people are listening to you, it's not always easy to open yourself up. I as a leader must first trust others before they can trust me. What does this look like?
In a perfect world if I trust other people then they will in a sense put their trust in me. If this was the case, change would be much easier than it is. Being at the center of change means be willing to trust other people even when they don't deserve your trust. The knowledge that you pass onto others about your personal life, personal ambitions, and perhaps even personal challenges can be used against you. As leaders we don't have the option though. We must trust all involved in the change in order to get them to trust us.
Check out this New York Times Op-ed article, The Evolution of Trust, where David Brooks takes a look at the change of "social trust" in our society. He uses an excellent example of the company Airbnb which wonderfully shows of how social trust is changing in our society and the effects of such a shift.
You Can't Do It Alone (Chapter 5)
Having a group of people that share your vision is priceless. In order to get to that collaborative vision it is important to trust. We must understand that change doesn't happen by ourselves. It takes a support team.
When thinking of my own support team I first think of the people that I work with day to day. These are the people who know me and understand how I work. These are the people that trust me and I trust them. These are the people that I can confide in and know that a mutual trust exists.
Beyond that it is natural to look towards people who share a similar vision beyond the context of content area. For me, this includes my Winona Cohort for the Innovative Instructional Leadership Class, the department of specialists. and other teachers in the building that take an innovative approach towards learning. When executing change, it is imperative to gain multiple perspectives from different people from different backgrounds. This will ensure a broad connection to many different types of people when implementation begins.
The challenge in reaching out beyond day to day associates is the unknown. People who don't know you often are skeptical. So the question is how do I build trust with people who do not know me on a personal level. The answer is simple. Make it personal. In order to build positive relationships, we must open ourselves up by trusting the people that surround us. Even though a risk, it is well worth the reward to build trust.
I enjoy how all the different "truths" presented thus far build into a way of change and a way of leadership. I continue to learn new perspectives throughout the book.
Additionally, chapter 7 discusses grit. Here is a wonderful application of grit in education.