3 Books You Need to Read to Build Better Trust on Your Team — #readthisseries

3 Books You Need to Read to Build Better Trust on Your Team — #readthisseries

Don’t miss this vblog on books you need to read to lead better and grow faster. We recommend three titles that are must reads on the topic of trust

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey

Motion Leadership by Michael Fullen

10% Happier by Dan Harris

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

PS — If you have a topic you want us to cover or need recommendations on books to read in a particular area of leadership, just send us a tweet or an email. 

And, let us know if you want to join our next MasterClass on Candid and Compassionate Feedback. Proven, effective, strategies for transforming the culture of your school. Just email us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com and we’ll add you to the growing list of leaders who picked themselves to get better. 

The 7 Ways that School Leaders Can Build Trust — #SH302

The 7 Ways that School Leaders Can Build Trust — #SH302

Trust is the glue of life…the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

~ Stephen Covey 

Trust is a multi-faceted, complex phenomenon that has the ability to strengthen schools when it is high and cripple them when it is low. To dive into this topic, let us begin with a clear definition of trust: “a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intention or behavior of another.” 

Essentially, trust is a belief–it’s a social and organizational contract, built on a faith in positive regard for self and others. Trust gives us confidence that the people in our lives will do the right thing, especially in the absence of oversight or direction. And even though one of the best ways to build trust is to extend trust, most people don’t offer trust until they feel that it has been earned. That’s the biggest problem with trust. It’s paradoxical. On one hand, it must be gained over time in the creation of a bond; on the other hand, it needs to be demonstrated at the onset of a relationship. 

The absence of trust in a school or on a team is detrimental. In the business world, it equates to the loss of revenue. In education, it means that relationships are torn and both achievement and wellbeing suffer for students. But in an altruistic environment like education, why do we suffer from diminished trust when we all came into this profession to help people, when all of us started with the same why. The answer lives within our leadership capacity to confront a culture of distrust and the 7 ways that leaders can build and restore trust in their schools. 

The bottom line about the following 7 aspects of trust in schools is that each of them takes courage, candor, and compassion to execute well. To get good at being candid takes practice, and you can’t hesitate in an effort to begin if you want to transform your school into a place where people love to work and kids love to learn. That’s why we wrote Candid and Compassionate Feedback, because we know that leaders need a guide for being candid regarding teacher performance, shared decisions, and teacher leadership. For the following 7 trust scenarios to be at their best, you need candor and compassion. 

  1. With Self: The first, and most important, layer of trust is the trust that we place in ourselves to be effective in any given scenario. It’s the power of self-efficacy, and the strength to push yourself to meet your own and even higher expectations. When people say, “that took guts,” what they’re really saying is, “that took a ton of self-trust.” An extreme form of physical and mental self-trust is depicted in the picture below. That took guts! 
  1. With Others: The second place where leaders must learn to build trust is with others. This is the trust that a leader is able to garner with each individual person on the team. We earn trust with people by exhibiting an outward integrity–we mean what we say and we say what we mean. Our words and actions must be aligned for others to see us as honest and consistent. We must keep commitments–even the promises that others perceive us to make. The biggest fault of a leader who struggles to establish a trusting relationship with others is that they say one thing and then do something that doesn’t entirely match their words. 

  1. Restored With Others: This is where trust is paramount. Leaders are put in a position that often requires a decision to be made that others disagree with or might not have anticipated. Trust restoration is the layer of trust-building that effective leaders do well in order to move an organization past status quo. Whenever we have a relationship with someone, especially if that relationship is typically predictable or transactional, and we want to make a change within the organization, we put a strain on what the other person perceives as honesty. All aspects of trust require vulnerability, and, in this case, it takes a great deal of humility to restore trust once it has been strained or lost. This happens when a leader pushes a person past their level of comfort or makes an unwelcome decision that, at first, harms the relationship they have with that person, but then the leader repairs that relationship through a stronger sense of purpose, an explanation of the motives, and an understanding about the decision. Sometimes this is intentional from the outset, other times it’s brought on by a mistake. In any case, the leader restores the social contract, which strengthens the trust beyond its original form. With that said, leaders who know how to restore trust can build even greater bonds with the people they serve, even more so than leaders who create solid relationships but never put them to a test. 
  1. Between Others: Great leaders don’t just know how to develop a strong rapport with other people; they know how to create connections between other people. You can probably think of a leader who has a great relationship with almost everyone in the organization, but those people don’t necessarily have great relationships with one another. It’s for this reason that we built the Passionate Culture Dichotomy model in our Passionate Leadership book. It shows the distinction between high functioning schools with a dynamic work culture (high trust) from those that suffer from isolation (low trust).
A Passionate Leadership Culture

This layer of trust-building creates true team spirit. When leaders don’t have this skill, they often don’t understand why the team isn’t functioning well despite their positive rapport with each individual. The most effective way to build relationships between others is to use active affirmations. We can create collective efficacy by communicating the mastery experiences that we observe the members of our team having and verbally recognizing them in front of others (especially when they’re not around to hear our praise). 

  1. Restored Between Others: Disagreement, strife, and discord will inevitably occur between two or more people on your team. If it’s not addressed quickly and directly, a minor dissension can easily grow into a deep animosity and the inability to work well together. The key to rebuilding trust is by having what we call Empathy-Centered Conversations (ECCs). ECCs are facilitated by the leader when two people aren’t getting along. The basis of the argument is likely a lack of perspective so the conversation is meant for the leader to reveal to each party the other person’s outlook about the situation that occurred. Leaders are reluctant to engage in this way for fear that they’ll make the situation worse. They either hope that the situation will resolve itself or they believe it to be a function of human resources. But that’s not helpful. ECCs are designed to get at the heart of a problem for everyone involved to see and hear a point-of-view other than their own. Leaders who are skilled at ECCs and employ the tenets of C.A.L.M. are good listeners and use effective techniques to restore relationships. 

  1. On A Team: Team dynamics can be intense, especially among A-players. School leadership teams are typically composed of the best and most senior teachers. These folks are both highly effective in their classrooms and socially powerful in the school. It can be tricky to congeal a team of diverse tough-minded people, but that’s exactly what you want surrounding you when things get tough or when you’re trying to change a culture. We like Blanchard’s model for the ABCDs of trust on a team (depicted below). It’s a good test for if the right people are on your leadership team or if you need to replace one or two people like we learned from Katherine in Lencioni’s fable about teamwork. If any of your people are consistently unable to serve with competence, lacking in believability or integrity, seeming to not care about people, or unreliable in their role, you need to switch out that team member. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary, and we see it all the time where school leaders hang on to steering committee members who fail at one of these four pivotal characteristics of trust. 
  1. Restored On A Team: Because your leadership team members are all dominant in one way or another outside of the team meeting, they can be unintentionally off-putting to one another when the team gathers. For teams, trust is almost never static. It’s either strengthening or weakening, flowing in one direction or another at all times. Scientists have demonstrated that trust is biological. Having it or not stems from a chemical reaction in the brain that prompts or diminishes trust. If your team’s trust is low, it’s likely because there’s either too much testosterone pumping in the veins of your teammates during a meeting or not enough oxytocin. Sparing you the actual science, theory of mind is one activity that supports team empathy when trust is fragile. It’s simple but effective. One team member poses a problem that they’re having with their department (or the leader exposes one), and you go around the table whereby each person starts with this sentence stem: “If I were going to tackle that, I would do it this way…” Not only does this harmonize our intentions as a group, it also coordinates our behaviors over time. The impact is that we all start to react similarly to problems. It’s far better to work on group-think than group distrust.  

In his typical way, Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers unravels the inherent human problems that we have with trust and with judging others by their actions. He points to truth-default theory as the presumption we make that others are telling the truth (when we don’t really have evidence of the real truth or not). At the end of the book (spoiler alert), he says that we have guilt about it, and we shouldn’t. We drive against our own default, because of that guilt, and we suspect the worst in others as a defense against assuming the best. This seems to be exacerbated in schools these days. Instead of trusting one another to have the best intentions for each other and our students, we fight our human default, which produces skepticism and even paranoia. The reason that leaders are constantly restoring trust rather than building upon it is because we default to something other than the truth. 

But we’re not strangers. We’re educators. We’re colleagues. We’re friends. And friends can default to truth, to trust, especially in a world where Gladwell is asking us to do that with people we don’t even know. The problem with trust is not that we don’t have it within us as a natural predisposition. It’s that we rage against that disposition. And when we do so for long periods of time, we build a habit of distrust that only a skilled leader can break. It’s the job of a leader to confront and alter a culture that lacks trust, a culture that needs restoration. Because collective efficacy and teacher credibility are two of the highest effect sizes for any single strategy that impacts learning, trust in schools is a moral imperative. It’s more important now than ever before, and we know that our readers are poised to make the first, next, best move to lead better and grow faster. 

Stay tuned for more nuggets of wisdom, podcasts, books to read, reflection sessions, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster in schools. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our content each month. Send this to a friend. 

As always, let us know what you think of this with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

This blog post is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Click here for details. Register today to save. 

3 Books You Need to Read to Get Better at Overcoming Obstacles — #readthisseries

3 Books You Need to Read to Get Better at Overcoming Obstacles — #readthisseries

Don’t miss this vblog on books you need to read to lead better and grow faster. We recommend three titles that are must reads on the topic of overcoming your hindrances. 

Upstream by Dan Heath

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

PS — If you have a topic you want us to cover or need recommendations on books to read in a particular area of leadership, just send us a tweet or an email. 

Our #ReadThisSeries is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new, existing, and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Go to principalsseminar.com for details. Register today to save. 

Bridging the Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Want To Be — #SH302

Bridging the Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Want To Be — #SH302

Ask me to play, I’ll play, ask me to shoot, I’ll shoot. Ask me to pass, I’ll pass, Ask me to steal, block out, sacrifice, lead, dominate, anything. But it’s not just what you ask of me. It’s what I ask of myself.

~ LeBron James

Success, achievement, and fulfillment, whether in your personal or professional life, demand an honest and thorough evaluation of where you are and where you want to go. The standards we set for ourselves impact everything that we do from our relationship with our family to our level of fitness. We often begin this journey of self-development with goal-setting, and although goals are important, we want to introduce an introspective process that should precede goal-setting, called the H-Gap Activity

Turning goals into reality requires a level of commitment and dedication that include specific phases, which must be established and planned. Our four-part model below is proven effective as a critical aspect for getting from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. But it’s only the first step to success. Follow the model and then use the H-Gap Activity as well. 

Phase 1: Set One Big Important Goal. Identify one goal that you are deeply passionate about. This can be personal or professional or one for both. 

Phase 2: Bring It to Life. Write it down and visualize it. 

Phase 3: Create a Master Plan. Identify the specific details and deadlines that will guide you to achievement.

Phase 4: Be Accountable. Find a friend, an accountability partner, to help you along the way. 

This goal-setting model demonstrates the need for continuous self-improvement, accounting for specificity and accountability. But, prior to goal-setting, we need a different process that crystallizes not only where you are heading but what you need to do to get there. On a psychological level, we have to understand that we are really only ever driven by our why. Without this understanding, we end up chasing goals that leave us empty and unfulfilled. The process for uncovering our why requires time and introspection–a quiet space and place to clarify our thoughts and intentions. Headspace is one of our favorite apps that help us to achieve this state-of-mind. 

Within organizations, the process is not much different. The team’s why must define everyone’s attitude, actions, and efforts towards a common goal that is aligned to the vision. This leads to an initial step of self- and organizational-discovery. This is where our Hinderance-Gap Model comes into play. Because life and work can seem complicated, with all of the “things” that either prevent or promote what we are trying to achieve, we need strategies to get past the hindrances. We can’t let bad habits, poorly written rules, and bureaucratic red tape stifle great ideas and a better future for all of us.

The H-Gap Activity requires you to identify where you are and where you want to be. This establishes the pillars of the H. After the pillars are clear, the next critical step is to determine what needs to be done to get from one pillar to the next, which serves as the bridge between the two. The bridge is the action steps, activities, and program of work that support your attempt to make a change. During that process, it’s also important to identify what you need to stop doing. These are the things that are getting in your way from making it from one pillar to the next. They surround the bridge, making the trek from one side to the next see daunting. The visual below illustrates the concept.   

To gain a better understanding of how the H-Gap works, let us introduce you to Dr. Jennings, who is in her fifth year at Keystone Academy High School.

Her school has committed resources and energy to PSEL Standard #5: Community of Care and Support for Students. This effort was prompted by the demographics of the school rapidly changing over the last few years and the school determining that it needed to be more culturally responsive in order to best educate the students. Within Standard #5 is Principle F, which reads “Infuse the school’s learning environment with the cultures and languages of the school’s community,” which can be accomplished in a variety of ways. 

In this instance, Dr. Jennings and her team decided that the steering committee should take a thorough look at the school’s curriculum, specifically within the English coursework that they offer. 

The H-Gap process allows for an individual or group to work collaboratively together to determine the best method to move forward.

Where Are We Now?Where Do We Want to Be?What Do We Have To Start Doing?What Do We Have to Stop Doing?
A responsive curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards but that has not undergone a thorough review to determine if it is culturally and racially responsive.A curriculum that is aligned to the standards but that is also culturally and racially representative of the students who are learning from it.  
Form teams to review the current curriculum and learning activities using a prescribed checklistAssume that the staff knows how to be culturally and racially responsive and that they know how to supplement the curriculum as needed. 

Once Dr. Jennings employs the H-Gap Activity with her team, they can get to work on their path toward what they set as a goal. Notice that even if her team set clear goals using the model that we previously described, they still might encounter problems in making their change if they didn’t have the H-Gap Activity at the core of their process. 

Leading change is always a challenge. Going from goal-setting to goal-getting isn’t easy. That’s why it’s imperative that we use models to guide our process. We hope that you’ll find our H-Gap Activity useful so that your team finds success with the goals that you set this month and beyond. 

Stay tuned for challenges, nuggets of wisdom, reflection questions, technical tips, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our alerts, blogs, podcasts, and more.

Let us know what you think of this #SH302 post with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

This blog post is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new, existing, and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Click here for details. Register today to save. 

Defining Your Focus and Using Models in Practice  — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Defining Your Focus and Using Models in Practice — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.

~ Tony Robbins

Organizational change management is something that great leaders must master to be successful. The infographic below, 12 Common Types of Organizational Change, is a powerful visual that clearly demonstrates the complexities of change and how well-versed leaders understand, navigate, implement, manage, and lead change.

Regardless of the type of change we seek, it is always a process. The six step process that we created for leaders subscribes to the idea that change should be transformational, even disruptive, as our guest, 2017 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year, Jethro Jones, described. The challenge is actually leading the change so that it makes the desired difference. School cultures and norms are very powerful and can unintentionally absorb the initiative and reduce it to what the community can handle, limiting its impact. Too often change initiatives are so incremental that they don’t make a dent in the current culture of “what we’ve always done.” 

This is why the 5th step in our process is so vital, which is the development of a Defined Focus. Once we know the proven research-based methods that best support our effort, we need to narrow them down to only a few or we’ll end up overwhelming our people and overburdening the system, which does the opposite of creating change by putting stressed out people in a position to defend the status quo. This refined approach in having a defined focus increases the likelihood of the change being embraced and,ultimately, having success in creating new outcomes. 

Consider our current reality in education with many schools starting the 2020-2021 school year in a remote learning environment. Teaching remotely is a difficult skill to master and requires not only a keen understanding of the tenets of effective virtual teaching and learning, but also understanding how to use technology well and the associated platforms. 

Let’s imagine a school that willingly embarked on instructional transformation last year by deciding to use highly effective strategies, like jigsaw, on a routine basis to improve student achievement. This same school is now faced with learning how to teach in a remote learning environment with very little experience. Early change efforts can easily be dismantled, but leading the change process effectively combines new efforts with the old. The focus now shifts to how to do jigsaw activities virtually. The teachers don’t have to determine what new strategies to use because of the virtual environment, but rather how to implement best practices, in this case the jigsaw, in an online scenario. This takes the idea of the Defined Focus to what people need to be able to actuate that focus on in practice: Solid Models. 

Well vetted models accelerate learning. Continuing with our jigsaw example, there are a ton of resources to support its use, but in this instance we look no further than the work of Catlin Tucker.

Not only does she describe how to use the jigsaw effectively in an online environment, she also provides a jigsaw activity template. This becomes the model for both students and teachers to implement with success. Take the following challenge to ensure that your change initiative has the defined focus that it needs, including the models that support the focus in practice. 

  1. Reflect: Take time to reflect on a recent change initiative. Is there a defined focus filtered down to a few key practices that best support the work? If so, fantastic. Move to #2. If not, spend time narrowing down to a few focus strategies so that your efforts truly make an impact.
  2. Identify: Identify models that support the focus strategies and share them with the expectation that they will reinforce the specific elements of the desired change. Do not reinvent the wheel but do give proper attribution.
  3. Do: Don’t just communicate the models and share them widely. Of course, that’s important. It’s critical that leaders model the models. Use them in meetings and other online environments to demonstrate their usage. Show, don’t just tell.  

Take a look at the questions in the grid below to ensure that your change initiative is following the six-step process on your way to a new future that’s aligned to the vision you have as a leader. Reach out if you need support: contact@theschoolhouse302.com. We love to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

PS — If you have a topic you want us to cover or need recommendations on books to read in a particular area of leadership, just send us a tweet or email. 

This Challenge is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new, existing, and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Click here for details. Register today to save. 

Send Your Leadership Change Efforts to the ER — Enumerated Goals & Research-based Methods — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Send Your Leadership Change Efforts to the ER — Enumerated Goals & Research-based Methods — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal. 

~ Earl Nightingale

This month, we posted the six critical steps necessary to implement the change you seek to make. This week, we are uncovering the power in steps 3 and 4, which are literally the heart of the process. As humans, our heart is a magnificent organ, pumping blood throughout our cardiovascular system and providing us with life. Our hearts beat 100,000 times a day, delivering oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood so that we can be healthy and strong.

Change also requires a heart, a muscle that works to sustain and provide life in any organization. Well-developed and clearly enumerated goals along with the research-based methods on how to make progress toward the goals are the heart of any company or school. The goals serve as waypoints that provide clear markers of success, similar to how mile markers support the eager traveler along the way. But these goals must work together with solid practices that everyone embraces on the path forward. 

The point is that clear goals simply cannot stand alone as the basis for change. In fact, well-intentioned change initiatives always fail without the support of research-based methods. Whether it is an unsuccessful business venture or schools that do not make necessary academic gains, by themselves goals are not enough. Yes, they may be invigorating, producing a burst of motivation for the people, but the goals need support mechanisms that are proven to be effective as the practices that garner the results that the goals seek to attain.

Similar to how the heart’s electrical system works perfectly to pump the heart, the work behind any goal must operate in harmony to provide the support needed for any level of achievement. Worse yet, goals that aren’t supported by proven strategies can end up being a waste of time, increasing frustration at every level and leading to cardiac arrest in the area that you lead. Take the challenge below to get to the heart of change in your organization. 

The 6 step process of change is also an alignment tool. As you work through the change initiative and breathe life into it, all aspects need to function in ways that support the other component. At the heart of the model, we find enumerated goals with research-based methods. 

  1. Reflect: Does your school or district have enumerated goals to support the change initiative that is designed to enable the organization to reach its vision? Are the goals supported with proven research-based methods? If your answer is no, do the work to create goals along with the research to support how to achieve them. If your answer is yes, move to #2. 
  2. Identify: What are some current strengths and weaknesses with your methods? What research do you use to support the practices? Has that research been communicated as the why behind what we’re asking people to do differently? 
  3. Do: Communication is critical. Take the time to ensure that not only is the research-base clear to the people but that they are getting frequent updates about the why and the how in terms of making the change.  

Pro Tip: Frequent communication can be tricky. More emails mean that fewer are getting read. Anymore, people practically expect a media format–video, podcast, social platform update. Take the time to evaluate your communication methods and update them to a format that works best for the people you serve. If you’re not sending weekly videos about your goals, start there. You’ll see an increase in clarity right away. 

Let us know that you took the challenge by contacting us at contact@theschoolhouse302.com

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

PS — If you have a topic you want us to cover or need recommendations on books to read in a particular area of leadership, just send us a tweet or email. 

This Challenge is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new, existing, and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Click here for details. Register today to save.