Ever walk into a room and everyone gets quiet? You make the obligatory joke, “Quit talking about me” but are they actually? If you are their “boss” then the answer is probably YES!
Welcome to PIRATE Port Rapport!
Building Rapport is integral to great leadership. Can you lead people who don’t care about you and who don’t feel cared for by you? You can try it is a much harder task and you will be much less effective.
I have been told, and seen first hand, that as a leader, you build up your strength with those In he middle and then more will follow. But this year I have seen leadership that demonstrates the skill of building rapport and using it to inspire change.
A teacher I have worked with for many years, made me think harder about this than ever before. When we had a new administrator start in the building, she met with him. I know from discussions that he wasn’t happy with the way her class was trending. It wasn’t that she didn’t care for students, it was that she “had always done it his way and it works well enough.” Only it does not work well enough.
After her first meeting with him I asked her how it went. She replied, “I think he knows more about me from a ten minute meeting than any other administrator I have had.”
I asked why she felt that way, and she said two very powerful words, “he asked.”
I have since seen that teacher rework her entire classroom, accepting help and ideas from more progressive young teachers and improving the overall quality of her instruction. It was not instantaneous, it has taken months. But, for a teacher that was always on the fringe, anchoring against the tides, knowing that she had outlasted four previous administrators, she was not a vital part of the change. She may never fully get rid of that “us vs. them” mentality, but in four previous years that I had worked with her, she had changed very little, despite pressure to do so.
The power of building rapport is beyond being liked, respected, or not the butt of jokes when you leave the room. The power of rapport makes people move mountains.
One more story on the power of rapport that will stay with me till the day I die:
It was my first year teaching. My class was a deck stacked against me, even the parents had written the school about how poor the distribution had been in the classes. I had a child with a history of explosive behaviors and he and I became close. I always let him know why I took certain actions and took time to ask him about his life. A few weeks before our class field trip, I had them make Tye-dye shirts (I could pick my crew out of a crowd at 100 yards!). The day before the trip they took home a note saying to wear the shirts, and that 6-year-old boy said to me, ” I will wear mine tomorrow, I promise.”
The next day first thing in the morning when he came in, he saw all of the other students wearing theirs, but he was. It in his. He immediately began to throw chairs and scream, cry a then hid under the table. I tried to let him calm down a little first, moved the class to a safer part of the room, then climbed under the table with him and offered him my shirt. This 6-year-old boy who had given so many problems to so many people in our school, wiped the tears away and said, I don’t care about the shirt, I broke a promise to you! I broke my promise!”
It gave me chills. A boy who had violent outbursts toward everyone in our school at some point, even myself, cared most about a promise he had made to me. Rapport won’t make your school better on its own, but without it, you are alone in everything you do.
Lead with and for your crew. Your position exists to support and enhance theirs, without them, you don’t exist. Take the time to know what drives them and they will start driving you!