To begin with, no Head should assume that her or his career could survive a video of bragging about sexual assault. Secondly, blatantly racist or sexist remarks, derogatory imitations of a person with disabilities, or banning entry to the your school on the basis of religion would hardly read well on your resume either. And yet, the person in the most powerful job in the United States has parleyed all of these things into a four year contract including a house!
Okay, lets agree that the content of the President's personal communications are not worth emulating. Is there anything instructive about his use of media? After all, he played the news networks like Nero's fiddle, having them dancing to his tune while the electoral process burned. The reality is that Trump's greatest secret is that it is always about him and what he thinks. He never answers questions or responds to controversies, he just tweets about something else and moves on. Even when confronted this week by Time magazine about his claim that Ted Cruz and his father had breakfast with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, he answered "I didn't make that up, I read it in the newspaper!" (The National Enquirer to be exact, right next to the story of an extraterrestrial takeover of pizza chains around the world!)
So first lesson: it is not about you! Heads often fall into the trap of thinking that they are communicating by publishing updates about themselves. They send out school-wide "letters", email bursts, weekly blogs and pronouncements at school assemblies or staff meetings. Many Heads that I know are constantly pushing out feel-good news stories on Twitter, or recording school events on Facebook and Instagram. If your goal is to affirm that you were at something - get someone else to tweet about you. If you still want to tweet, do it once for each event - not updates every ten minutes and, instead, encourage other staff members to give their own take and retweet it. In other words, show that there is a school community and that you are part of it, and not necessarily the most important part (hint: the most important part is the kids!).
A key aspect of this is how you present new initiatives. Donald Trump may brag about creating the "best health care plan ever!" but everyone knows that he had nothing to do with it. It may surprise you, but most people know the same thing about the new initiatives that are going on at your school. Your job is to create the climate and provide the supports to make things happen, but usually the real work is done by someone else. Give them the credit: to your parents; to their colleagues; and, especially to the Board. My Head's reports have always profiled the faculty, staff, and members of the admin team who are doing great things for the school - their names are highlighted, and their initiatives praised. I don't take credit for their ideas and accomplishments - I bask in reflected glory as the one who was smart enough to recognize their talent and foster it.
There is nothing worse that watching a Head pat her or himself on the back for the amazing work of others. As Donald Trump would say - SAD!
In the next post we will talk about what and how you should communicate with your constituencies.