Leadership Advice from the Author
Building trust will pay off in ways you can't anticipate.
How do you respect transparency and confidentiality at the same time?
Take this scenario: You have a faculty member with a serious medical condition that he would rather not disclose to his colleagues. The condition makes it very difficult for him to teach early morning classes, though he's fine going late into the afternoon. You sympathize, and give him a schedule that meets his needs.
His colleagues start to grumble about favoritism. Why does he always get out of the early shift? Is it because he's one race and they're others? Did someone do a favor for someone? Morale suffers, and you start to lose credibility.
As a general rule, you believe that transparency is a good thing. But in this case you would be betraying a trust--not to mention laws about medical privacy--if you shared the information. What do you do?
If you've built a reservoir of trust, you'll have the credibility you need when you ask his colleagues to understand that you can't reveal your reasons, but that in your shoes, they would do the same thing. They may believe you or they may not, but if you have their trust, they'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
“Writing directly from the front lines of administration, [Matthew Reed] illuminates the work of managing and leading community colleges, describing with clarity and pathos, exasperation and humor, what it really entails. Yet his eyes rise from the mundane to the meaningful, from the problem in front of us to the much larger challenge on the horizon…. His writing brings common sense, compassion, civility, and courage to dilemmas of daily work and to questions of institutional purpose, form, and viability. It is a voice we need, and just in time.” —From the Foreword by Kay McClenney, director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement and senior lecturer in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin