I’m going to attempt to model this my internalization of a bit of advice that I received recently.
Leadership is about trust. You want your people to trust you?
Speak plainly and keep your word.
By speak plainly, I mean say what you mean in a way that designed to be heard and fully-processed by those who hear it. Trust corrodes when those you are leading feel the need to constantly read between the lines of your statements.
By keep your word, I mean if you commit to doing something, then do it.
The advice I received was from Mark Wilson, but his was directed at goal-setting. Goals should be simple and easily understood. He didn’t mean that they should be low-level goals. But they should be able to be stated simply.
All of our students will be safe in our school.
All of our freshman will successfully complete all of their classes.
All of our new students will get a complete orientation to our school community before they attend a single class.
These are not-simple goals, but they are stated simply. That makes them easier to follow. Easier to implement. Easier to assess.
And it also makes it easier to keep your word. Here’s what I said I would do. Did I do it?
Well, if your goals sound more like this…
“To support the ever-dynamic pressures of a 21st century global economy, we will consistently find new and innovative learning experiences to blend with classical best practices to provide the highest-quality academic pathways for our diverse learners to produce successful work- and college-ready graduates.”
… then it becomes quite a challenge to evaluate whether or not you did what you said you do. This goal is not necessarily more complicated than “All of our freshman will successfully complete all of their classes”, but it is much less likely to become the unifying slogan around which we focus our energy. And isn’t that the point of stating the goal?
To close, all of this talk about speaking plainly has me thinking of this delightful scene from Shrek the Third