Lyndon Johnson: “The time to make friends is before you need them.”
Life is about the journey, and people need others to get where they are going (Sweet, 2008). People need friends and colleagues to travel with them on the journey. School board colleagues make the journey with others through interaction and educational experiences. When people go out into the world, watch out, hold hands, and stick together (Sweet, 2008). Board members must stick together and collaborate on decisions and discussions while seeking feedback from many stakeholders, including teachers, school leaders, and student families. Johnson’s quote is correct about making friends before people need them. People must build and establish relationships with others before decisions arise; therefore, they are already comfortable and familiar with a colleague’s way of thinking. Each meeting must have a meeting before the meeting to eliminate a surprise element on the agenda. All members and stakeholders can be aware of and prepared for discussions.
Each board member and stakeholder has his own viewpoint and thinking process, therefore, interprets policies in his own language (Fowler, 2013). Because of different interpretations, there must be multiple meetings and discussion attempts to allow each member to express his viewpoint and thoughts. By having relationships with stakeholders and members in advance, each member is able to communicate comfortably and professionally to discuss policies. Because board members are comfortable and acquainted with one another in advance, they must be cautious of maintaining professional friendships. They must maintain a professionalism of business, not social status. They can be business friends but not necessarily social friends unless they learn to draw the professional line when talking business outside of working hours.
Blackwell (2006) explained that school leaders must make friends with policy makers to make the education system work for their schools and students. Legislators want to be partners in education; therefore, school leaders form partnerships and friendships to manage policies and decisions. Tip O’Neill referred to politics as local and personal, which means policy decision makers work to solve real problems of people groups where they live and work and who are affected by real and personal problems. Because of these personal situations, leaders must establish friendships and relationships before decisions arise.
Fowler, F. (2013). Policy Studies for Educational Leaders. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Blackwell, J. (2006). Empowering School Leaders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Sweet, L. (2008). 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.