DoS Management Tip – Trust your team mates

July 24, 2010

The last time I cried in public I was sitting on a bus in Leicester. It was 19th May 1997. My tears dripped onto the pages of my newspaper that was open on the sports pages. My hero – Eric Cantona – had quit football. It was difficult to contemplate life without Eric, and indeed there have been many dark Cantona-free days since his departure.

Ken Loach recently made a great film about Manchester United’s maverick French genius – Looking for Eric. Cantona plays himself. During the film he gives the main character – a Mancunian postman going through a mid-life crisis – some advice. It’s a piece of wisdom that all us DoSes and education managers should take to heart. The secret of Eric’s phenomenal success? Simple –

  • You must trust your team mates. Always.

Just as Eric would not have been able to fill his personal trophy cabinet if he had stood on the pitch as a lone individual, so we too have to rely on others to bring success to our schools.

The advice is so simple yet it’s really hard. It means taking risks. It means giving up some control. Yes, people might let you down. Yes, you might have to deal with problems when teachers abuse that trust. However, if you don’t give your teachers that trust then they will never feel autonomous and never reach great heights.

So what does this mean? This trusting people?

Well, it’s simple –

  • Don’t micromanage – Do you really have to get teachers to sign for everything?
  • Don’t limit them – Does this teacher really need another year’s experience before she can take on that Advanced class?
  • Don’t overwhelm them – Do you really have to send them three email reminders for every task they have to do?
  • Don’t beat them when they slip up – let them make mistakes.
  • Treat them like adults – even when they are unable to find the copy of the book they need despite the fact that it’s right in front of their faces.

Sometimes they will let you down. Sometimes you may be left with egg on your face. But your best teachers will repay that trust ten times over. At the very least you’ll sleep better.

Do you have any specific examples of the importance of trusting your team mates?

Here are some links –

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