Building Trust as a Leader – There are Two Sides to Every Story

The school bell has rung, class is now in session

Remember the old adage, “There are two sides to every story?” This is a simple truth that could benefit everyone who takes the time reflect on it, especially when your own ears are being filled with a “story.”

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When I was a beginning teacher, an occurrence took place that taught me a valuable lesson. I had a principal who demanded excellence from faculty, staff and students alike. Whether the principal had known you for a long time, or if you were a new employee; the expectations were the same for every person across the board. Because of this consistent treatment to everyone, the principal gained a reputation for treating people fairly, which in return, built a foundation of trust.

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Side note – As we go through life, we will have good and bad situations to happen, and if we choose to learn, the lessons will not be in vain.

Let us return to the story. There was a veteran teacher that had been communicating behind the scenes with some of my cheerleaders about a potential way to raise money for themselves. When I became aware of what some of them were doing, I reminded the team that fundraising activities had to go through a particular process, resulting with approval from the principal before any monies could be collected. The veteran teacher, being a former coach, continued to encourage some of the girls to continue raising money for themselves. I was frustrated, so I used my first line of defense, prayer. I always pray when I feel that things are getting out of control.

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I knew if this situation continued, I would eventually have to speak to the veteran teacher one-on-one, and before doing so, wanted to make sure my heart and mind was right before God. What happened a week after the incident came as quite a shock to me. The principal ended up summoning the veteran teacher and I, to the office.

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We sat next to each other, while the principal proceeded to walk out of the room. The veteran teacher asked me if I knew what the principal could possibly want with us, and I told her no. I had only been working there three weeks and barely spoke to the principal. When the principal returned, the veteran teacher and I, were asked if we knew why we were called into the office? We both stated that we did not know the reason. The principal went on to explain that we were called in because one of my cheerleaders had been asking for money randomly, and when it was discovered that it was not a sanctioned fundraiser, the cheerleaders were brought into the office and questioned. They were also reminded of the process they had to go through in order to have a fundraiser established. I will be honest, at this point I was seething because I thought the conversation would end with me getting in trouble for putting together a fundraiser, I had nothing to do with, but I remained silent.

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Surprisingly, the principal addressed the veteran teacher, and explained to no longer advise the cheerleaders in that measure because it undermined me as the new coach. The principal went on to say that in the future when it came to fundraising ideas, to let me know because ultimately, I would be responsible the outcome.

Let me digress, we both were a little floored at this conversation, but for different reasons.

Me: I did not know the principal was aware of what had been going on and could not believe how professionally it was handle. It was not spread around the front office, or among teachers in the school. The issue was only addressed to the parties involved, and in our faces, instead of behind our backs. #Wow

Veteran Teacher: Surprised the principal knew what was going on and actually called the situation out.

Ok, let us return to the story. The veteran teacher ended up apologizing for overstepping boundaries, and I gratefully accepted because I like peace. Next, we were told that if there was not anything left to discuss, we could leave. The veteran teacher and I were a little surprised about the encounter, but left the meeting feeling good and as though we had been through something together.

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I gained more respect for the principal as a leader because that situation could have gone in another direction. If it was assumed that I was to blame for the fundraiser complaints just because I was the coach, my professional image would have been smeared in the eyes of the principal because I should have known better. I truly respect that the principal took the time to investigate and dig a little deeper to learn that I had not orchestrated the illegal fundraiser activities.

In regard to your own personal experiences, whether it is at church, work, organizations, among friends or associates; how often do you hear one side of a story, and formulate opinions based on that particular side? Why not try listening first, then consider the possible “other side” of the story before reacting? Many people form opinions about others before interacting with them, and this is a constant misfortune, because a potential benefit to you and/or your organization could be missed.

Reflection Time

  1. The next time someone tells you a story about someone or something, please take the time to remember that you are only hearing half of the story. For example – If someone only tells you about half of the movie; you will need to learn the other half of the storyline in order to formulate a true opinion of the movie.
  2. Think of the peopleyou have encountered over time, and the opinions you have formed about them. Is your opinion of them based on what others have said, or is it based on your personal experiences with them? If you have personally experienced a person, and realized they were not a positive person, then it is ok to have that opinion about them, but if the opposite is true then that could be an issue. This is an important reflection because I have seen people who were good friends, end up falling out of friendship because of half-truths spoken about the other person. For example – The friend would begin listening to others speak negatively about their good friend, and instead defending them based on their personal experience with them, they instead would begin to believe the opinions of others. This demonstrates the power of negative words once they are allowed to take root in the mind.
  3. Make the change today and remember that facts will always outweigh half-truths.

 

            Wellness Tip: Replace Junk Food. Take out all of the junk food in your cupboards at home and replace them with healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” ~John 8:32

The school bell has rung, class dismissed

Published by Kamina A. Fitzgerald Ed.D.

Loving others as I love myself

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