How to Improve Your Reputation as an Education Leader
Wrong or right your reputation precedes you. When starting our as a new or established education leader, your reputation can make or break your tenure. In a perfect world, people would wait to get to know you for themselves before passing judgment, but then again this is not an ideal world. If you don’t already know, your leadership reputation is how people judge your level of character or integrity. Sometimes there is some validity to an education leader’s reputation, but sometimes there isn’t.
For instance, you were formerly the assistant principal of a middle school within your district, and you are being promoted to the position of principal, at another middle school in the district. You were successful at your former school, and most of your colleagues believed you were the best administrator that they ever had. However, some may not necessarily feel this way, partially because of the fact that on several occasions you had to write them up because of serious infractions.
When the staff at your new appointment find out that you are being hired, they will inquire about your reputation. The stories they hear will be a mixed bag, and unfortunately, most people will spread the believe and spread the negative rumors, way more than the positive. So what do you do? Although you are not perfect, you know that you were productive, hence your promotion. So how can you improve your reputation as an education leader? Here’s how.
- Find our what your leadership reputation is. Some people would say send out a survey so people can comment anonymously. Don’t use this option unless you are strong enough to find out what people really think. You can also ask a colleague to find out. They can give it to you in an authentic way, and make it sound more constructive than a survey.
- Establish the reputation that you want. Although your reputation may not be what you would like it to be, you can always change this. People will believe negative stories about you initially, but this perception of you will change once their beliefs are challenged. Let them see the real you, and watch your reputation improve.
- Don’t try to be liked. When people find out what others think don’t like them or think negatively about them, they go out of their way to get them to love them. Beware this can compromise your ability to lead, and sabotage your tenure.
- Go on a charm offensive. Instead of trying to get people to like you, go on a charm offensive. This doesn’t going out of your way to get people to like you, it just means using a pleasant demeanor to soften their stance. Who can live with making you out to be the bad guy, when you are just so pleasant to be around?
- Be accountable. The negative things that others say about you may have a lot of validity. If this is the case, its time to take a look in the mirror and come up with a plan to improve these negative attributes. Be transparent about the things that you are working on. Ask peers, friends, and family to hold you accountable for your actions. Thank them, and don’t get defensive. But also, don’t allow them to use this to manipulate you.
- Reflect. At least once a week, but preferably daily, take time to reflect on how you are doing. Make sure you find a place where you feel centered and at peace. Are you proud of the interactions that you have had with others, and the decisions that you have made? Were these decisions and interactions emblematic of someone with integrity and morals? Are you doing everything that you can to meet your reputation goals? Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are human, and so you will make mistakes. You have to be ok with that. Use your mistakes to your advantage and keep working towards your goals
What do you think about my list? Are their other things that education leaders can do to improve their reputations?