One of the things effective school leaders do is use the collective first person pronoun “we” rather than the singular “I”.
We are in this together. We are a team. We are a school. This is our school, not mine.
Capacity comes from building a collective sense of community and keeping that “we-ness” together through constant support and team building.
Saying the Royal “we” brings a sense of cohesiveness, shared responsibility and builds group effort. It implies a partnership, a teaching tribe, a clan and a close-knit family.
Not everyone agrees though. James Walpole (2018) reckons that using “we” has its problems because it:
- promotes a false sense of team.
- becomes a way of diffusing responsibility.
- becomes a way of taking credit where credit isn’t due.
- becomes a way of criticizing passive aggressively.
“We” could be seen by some as manipulating language. A real sense of community doesn’t come by saying “we” – it comes from genuine support.
Why should we say “we” when celebrating success if it is actually down to one or two people? And “we” means we don’t take individual responsibility.
James makes a fair point but there is a time and a place for using both “we” and “I”.
Schools are all about critical relationships and healthy relationships start with the word “we.”
That’s what a meta-analysis study found. Researchers analysed 30 studies of nearly 5,300 participants and discovered that couples who often say “we” and “us” have more successful relationships and are overall happier and healthier.
If that works for couples, then it should apply to other relationships too shouldn’t it?
When team members say “we” then it encourages people to feel that “we are all in this together” as a family when trying to solve difficult issues and problems as well as sharing accomplishments.
Using the majestic plural isn’t just for the monarch of the school but for everyone. It is inclusive, promotes connectivity and strengthens the bonds of empathy.
All those in favour of saying “We”, say “Aye”.
The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it.