Great principals strive to restore employee confidence which may be low for any number of reasons. Use these seven principles to lift institutional confidence:
1. Perusal: Be sure that you have examined why employee confidence is low. Have they lost confidence due to a recent setback, such as a disappointing outcome of accreditation, a loss to death or retirement of a significant team leader, or maybe strife between them and your predecessor? You may think you know the cause but until you ask, you will not know for sure. Obvious reasons for diminished confidence usually possess underlying issues.
Hint: Don’t ignore least-favorite employees as you seek situational reality. Here, you may find your richest counsel. They are team members, too.
2. Present: At one school, the parking lot was extremely small, resulting in congestion and occasional hot tempers. It was important to be present so that the end-of-day pickup time did not become a disaster zone. Three favorite military commanders include Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and George Washington. None of these commanded from afar. They commanded in the midst of action.
3. Pleasant: Be pleasant. Rudeness and dishonesty will not win over anyone.
4. Persuasive: In terms of being persuasive, there are times for direct commands with little discussion. A good commander knows the difference like the teacher who reserves raising his voice for rare moments. Logic, common sense, and a smile go a long way to guide the team.
Hint: Present, pleasant, and persuasive are not tools of manipulation but attributes of a caring leader.
5. Participatory Planning: Employee confidence will increase as teachers know there is a plan of attack—especially if they participated in plan development. Be strategic in developing the plan.
Hint: Sometimes employees just need you to lead without much discussion. I remember in my early administration days—after continuing to seek input—a teacher approached me and stated, “Just lead. We’ll follow.”
6. Performance: Principals must perform in perhaps one of the most stressful, demanding, and, at times, seemingly impossible positions. FDR is credited with stating that “Confidence . . . thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.” What do you know to do? Employees are waiting to see what you will do. Commit to these principles and watch the rise of employee confidence.
Hints: Don’t hope to please absolutely everyone. Perform within a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Your school needs you for the long haul.
7. Persistence: Don’t give up. Institutional confidence takes time and is the synergistic conglomeration of the sum of individuals’ self-reliance. What you do as leader is critical because what teachers do may also restore community confidence.