No. 5: Build sustainable relations.
The lifeblood of any organization is trusting relationships. Without trust among the adults in a school, there is almost no chance that students will excel in their academics. Building relationships with school boards, community members and parents makes it possible for district leaders to advance their core mission. Likewise, working authentically from their core and aligning with the other leadership principles, these leaders enhance trusting and sustainable relations.
When driven by mission rather than ego, leaders can listen more intently to the ideas and concerns of others. Newsome began his successful tenures at Newport News, Va., Chesterfield County, Va., and now Petersburg by asking questions and listening to all stakeholders, including adults who had no children in the schools. Responses to questions like “What do you believe is needed to ensure a quality education?” fueled the first student-led convocation in which the theme was “I Believe.” It brought together the best thinking of the community, as well as the state education department and the governor’s office, as they worked collaboratively to make Petersburg a model for other urban districts.
When leaders welcome various voices and state their values, yet allow others to shape a collective vision and appreciate individual roles in the success of every child, they build sustainable relationships toward a greater good.