I recently had the opportunity to work with a central office staff in a large school district. They had lots of questions and concerns about how they could influence campuses when they do not have direct supervisory authority over the teachers or principals. I can remember working in that kind of position, and how challenging it was– but there are things that can be done to increase overall effectiveness.
First, central office leaders need to build trust at the campus level. Some of the words and phrases that our group used to describe people they trust were: reliable, responsive, predictable, having integrity, there when you need them. As leaders we need to honestly assess ourselves. Are we viewed as someone who can be trusted? If not, what can we do to increase the level of trust between the staff members we are trying to influence and ourselves?
Central office leaders also need to possess the ability to resolve conflicts when they arise. If misunderstandings or disagreements are left unresolved it can adversely affect your ability to influence teachers and administrators. How many times do little problems explode into big conflicts simply because the two people didn’t openly communicate?
Finally, central office leaders need is the ability to gain cooperation from other people. This can be accomplished by simply establishing a trusting relationship. By gaining their trust and confidence they will be more motivated to believe in and carry out what you are telling them. For example, if I feel like you know me and feel like we share common goals then I’m a lot more likely to cooperate with you.
So… what are three simple steps central office leaders can do to increase their influence?
- Be trustworthy.
- Resolve conflicts quickly when they arise.
- Build relationships.