Team Trust, a Touchstone for this Time (Pt 2)

“What does ‘No fixing, saving, advising, or correcting each other’ mean?”  she asked.  Her question was so insightful.  As a new member of our team, she had seen this commonly used language in an email outlining a meeting protocol.  It was a wonderful provocation for leadership.

I explained, “We’re practising holding safe spaces for coaching and supporting each other.  In those spaces, we can come to our own conclusions.  Ultimately, we trust each other’s inner wisdom.”  We learned this principle of trust from The Center for Courage and Renewal‘s work with Parker Palmer.  Every year or two, we review these Touchstones as a team.  They are a reminder to honour the inner journey of the other.

Trusting Each Other

Later that week, I had the opportunity to peer-coach another colleague, a Principal from far away, but still dear in my village.  Early in our meeting she expressed overwhelm.  And, so I queried.  Her heart came pouring out.  She had major health concerns, as a result, she couldn’t drive.  Also, her children had major health concerns, and her local political landscape was leaving her in turmoil and rendering her life scape uncertain.

I had these words whispering through my heart, “No fixing, saving, advising.”

I turned to wonder and asked some more honest and open questions (honouring additional Touchstones).

Her need to be given a warm welcome was palpable.  Her stories came pouring forth.  We chatted about her ‘next right thing’ and ‘what matters most’, two of my favourites to help me get clarity.

However, at the end of our call, she simply said, “Thank you for not judging me.  Thank you for just listening.”  Mike.  Drop.

I could feel her reaching through the Zoom screen with a hug of connection and gratitude.

Photo by Bogdan Shcheglovitov on Unsplash

The gift I offered: simply trusting her journey.  I did not need to fix, save, or advise.  Furthermore, she didn’t need my agreement or to be convinced of something different.  Simply, she needed to be heard into being.

How much do leaders feel the unrelenting pressure from the judgment or criticism of others?  So often, we are in the fishbowl, spotlight, and on stage in our communities.  Sometimes, all we need is a non-judgmental, listening ear.  From that space, our inner wisdom can pour forth and we can find our own way.

It was a gentle reminder that my teammates also can be trusted.  I don’t need to always run around fixing, saving, or advising.  They are capable.

Cultivating Team Trust

Would your team benefit from a more trusting community?  How could you invest in a culture of trust during this tumultuous time?

I invite you to join me in a free, high-calibre Learn Forward™ webinar intensive designed for school leaders at noon PT on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.  To learn more and to register, click here.

cultivating trust in schools webinar

For the sake of the children,


PS  I wish I could revise my most recent informal observation email; I think there’s quite a bit of advice in it. #LearnForward