The ‘Balance’ Series: Do You Play Well With Others?

We continue with our weekly examination of balance and the school leader, and this week we focus on your relationship with others who work at your school. 

Your job is more than just getting things accomplished.  It’s also about the manner in which you do so.  As the leader,  you set the tone for the others who work at the school.  While it may not always seem that they hear what you say, you can rest assured that they always see what you do.  Your actions can define your expectations for others at your school even more profoundly than your words.

That’s reason enough to be intentional in the types of relationships you have with the others at school.  How do you relate to your faculty?  Your staff?  To the students and their parents?  Have you ever considered how much influence you have on others?  When you interact with them, it’s not lost in a vacuum, but it stands as your position paper on how you believe others ought to interact.  The same holds true of your teachers with their students.  Ever had a teacher yelling at a student because the student isn’t being respectful?  Yep.  That’s it.  We often have no better place to begin making progress in our schools than within ourselves.  I’ve mentioned to principal and AP groups frequently through the years, the best way you can work on your school is to work on yourself first. 


Which of the following describes your model of interaction with others?

  1. Confrontational   Your interactions are based on power.  Your greatest tool in getting others to do what you want them to do is in making them do so.
  2. Collaborative   Your interactions are based on an agreed set of circumstances or goal. Your greatest tool in getting others to do what you want them to do is in leading them to a common goal.
  3. Co-existent    Your interactions are limited.  Your actions may or may not link towards a common goal, but you exert little power or influence. There is little drama or glory in these relationships.
  4. Competitive   Your interactions are based on a desire for achievement (being right, being better, being first, for example).  While you may have similar goals, you have competing efforts to obtain goals.
  5. Conjoined   Your results, your goals, your actions are linked together.  You are united with others in your pursuits.  While there is ebb and flow to this type of relationship, the difficult times result in a deeper bond rather than a separating.

So, as a leader, how do you relate to the others in your school universe?  Do you have differing types of relationships with different people?  Why is that so?  What type of relationships would be most beneficial for you to have as the leader of your school?  What keeps you from having those kind of relationships?  Do you see the relationship between how you are relating to your teachers and how they relate to the students?  What is your plan of action to become a relationship leader in your school?

OK, that’s a lot to think about in one paragraph.  But, we all talk about how relationships are always the key.  If that’s true, you as the school’s leader should be intentional in how you relate to others.   Before you can be intentional, you have to first be aware, and that will take some reflection and some conversations.

If this seems hard, and deep, well, it is.  If you want to be the most effective leader you can be, it’s not enough to tell people what to do and how to do it; you need to share with them why they should do it.  Even that only goes so far.  To truly transform an organization, you have to be a leader who helps people not only change what they do, but change who they are.   To get there requires relationships operating with a deeper level of commitment.

Time to examine yourself and how you relate to others.




This is an installment of a series of getting balance right as the school leader.  Please take a look at the whole series under the category of “Balance” here at Principal Matters!

Examining balance and getting it right means that you look not just what you do at work, but who you are as the whole leader.  That examination means that you look at yourself and your performance in several areas, including the following:

  1. How you relate to others in your school “universe”;
  2. How you perform and accomplish the tasks necessary in your job;
  3. How you relate to those important to you in your life away from school;
  4. How you interact with the world separate from your school and your home;
  5. How you are developing habits that promote short-term and long-term health and energy;
  6. How you are growing professionally and personally; and
  7. How happy, joyful, and fulfilled you are.

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