A Team is…
A group of people with different backgrounds, skills, personalities, and styles with a common purpose, who are working together to achieve clearly identified goals.
Working As an Effective Governance Team
To effectively focus all district efforts on learning and achievement for all students, a governance team needs to have a unity of purpose, a mutual understanding of roles and responsibilities, positive working relationships, and supportive structures and processes. One of the chief ways a governance team can strengthen or maintain its effectiveness is to periodically assess its own performance in these areas.
Unity of Purpose – A Definition
Unity of purpose is the common focus, overarching goals, and the core values, beliefs, and principles governing body members share in common about children, the district, and public education.
A unity of purpose is a clear and unambiguous sense of purpose that becomes the inspiration for all district efforts and the lens through which those efforts are viewed. It is an all-embracing sense of what the district is, what it stands for, and how the district functions. Unity of purpose conveys the values that guide behavior, defines the character of relationships, and frames the style and culture of the school district. It represents the superordinate goal that transcends individual agendas and special interests.
Having a unity of purpose demonstrates that governing board members care most of all about what is best for all students and understand that they must identify common ground in order to provide focused leadership and direction to the district. They have a commitment to a common district vision and goals, and to principle centered district policies. A defined unity of purpose focuses board members on desired end results and supports their ability to display a singular focus on achieving those results.
The purpose of agreed upon belief statements is to guide both behaviors and decisions. The power of a unity of purpose derives from its ability to capture the hearts and minds of an organization’s members by setting forth a set of shared principles and beliefs that are both uplifting and motivating.
In all relationships, dealings and transactions school boards and superintendents should act with integrity, openness, respect and honesty. Through these guiding principles the governing body strives to earn and convey trust. The team retains public trust through efficient cost effectiveness and stewardship of resources.
Governing bodies work most effectively when they have a rational and purposeful framework to focus and guide their work. A unity of purpose helps team members transcend their differences to fulfill a greater purpose.
The following questions might be discussed as a starting point in identifying unity of purpose. Being able to determine some collective agreement in the answers to these questions will enable the board and superintendent to define a unity of purpose – an essential condition for effective governance leadership.
Once the governance team understands the shared beliefs among the team, it is important to discuss how the governance team’s actions and behaviors will model and teach the beliefs by example. Reflecting on the questions below will assist the team to identify specific ways to make sure that the shared principles are in evidence as the board and superintendent carry out their respective responsibilities.