The Edleman Trust Barrometer reports that 80% of people stop buying products or services from companies when their trustworthiness comes into question. The significance of this research quickly jumps out at us when considering its application to the corporate and especially retail world (e.g., Volkswagen). Many illustrations could be given of products and services that have suffered major financial losses due to a public perception of mistrust; everything from fast food chains to automobiles. Everyone can tell a story of how they stopped buying a certain product, or stopped giving business to a certain service company due to a lack of trust. However, this research applies to individuals as well. Think of the financial loss that famed golfer Tiger Woods experienced when the public lost trust in his moral character or the growing list of careers collapsed through revelations of the MeToo movement.
For school leaders, and especially for those who are leading private schools whose funding is directly related to enrollment and tuition, this finding addresses the financial and operational essential of establishing and maintaining trust in our leadership as well as in the schools we lead. I am of the opinion that the percentage may even be higher when related to the services that schools provide, over against general commercial services, and especially for private schools and faith-based schools.
Think on this…
Parents entrust to us their most valuable assets (i.e. their children). Nothing else, in most families, holds a higher value or priority for care, protection, and nourishment (physically, intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and for many – spiritually). Thus, the need for a deep and profound sense of trust must be present for parents to entrust the care, protection, and nourishment of their children to us.
This also explains why there is often a very high level of loyalty and affinity with the schools we attend and that our children attend. We may label it school pride – but it is really school trust – and if that trust were not present, neither would we or our children possess that sense of pride.
So, if there is a sense that your school community is lacking in school pride – start considering immediately where and how the school has lost the trust of stakeholders, and how that trust can be rebuilt. And if you are enjoying a high level of school pride, then be sure to safeguard that high level of trust and continue investing in and intentionally developing the single greatest indicator of successful schools and effective school leadership… trust!
©Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.