Credibility, like so many other things, is in the eye of the beholder. Different stakeholders have different criteria for what makes an administrator credible. Rightly so. After all, stakeholders are people too.
I did some polling (My methodology would make our Research Department cringe. Sorry Sandra.) and found some common themes. People value experience, pedagogical knowledge, instructional leadership, social skills, discipline, communication skills, reliability and conflict resolution. One person thought a tie and jacket added to credibility. Others talked about an administrator’s reputation. This is problematic as preconceived notions of credibility (good or bad) can lead to unfair and often unwarranted expectations.
I can remember thinking early on that if my administrator was busy, busy, busy*,
they must know what they are doing.
Students think administrators are credible if;
– they know who they (students) are
– they are genuinely concerned with their interests and well-being
– they listen and then do something about it
Parents think administrators are credible if;
– they are available and visible around the school
– they do what they say they are going to do
– they are consistent in how they treat students
Teachers think administrators are credible if;
– they learn and practice with them
– they support them in good times and in bad
– they follow through with student and parent concerns
Administrators think administrators are credible if;
– they have experience or have paid their dues (OPC?)
– they walk the talk
– they have courageous conversations with parents, staff and supervisors
There is a relationship component in each of those stakeholder group’s criteria. You don’t have to look far to find a blog post that says relationships are important. However, when you think you know just how important relationships are, you need to know that they are even more important than that.
For me it depends on the context. If different people need different things from their administrator, then administrators need to be those things for those people. The difficulty is that people sometimes feel like it compromises their integrity or their principles to bend to the individual needs of stakeholders. Others may see it as being inconsistent. I don’t see it that way any longer. I have written before about the value of using effective classroom practices outside of the classroom. This is another opportunity. Differentiated instruction in the classroom treats learners as individuals and takes them from their Point A to their Point B. Administrators connect with a widely diverse group of people in their day. Each needing something different at different times. You can’t know what a person needs until you know that person. You may need to comfort, listen, nudge, model, redirect, coach, challenge, let go or reign in.
“We’re here to make good thinks happen for other people.”
We need to be all in. Be interested, involved, inclusive and inspiring.
It takes time to be in with students, parents, teachers and colleagues.
It takes time to be credible with students, parents, teachers and colleagues.
So, if you are in and you are credible, I guess that makes you incredible.
*second favourite Sandra Boynton song