Working Toward a Collaborative Culture

The schools who embrace peer coaching are those who value collaboration as a way to improve teaching practices and student outcomes. By effectively working together through communication and collaboration they improve instructional practices. Trust among peers is an important piece to successfully have those conversations about professional learning experiences and teacher growth. Peer coaching helps teachers integrate technology and improve instruction through reflection on measured student outcomes. Peer coaching can be a role of the servant-leader who strives to build up and support the school community.

Building a culture of collaboration is worth the work to empower others. The test, the measurement of a servant leader is trust, are you trusted by those you lead, by those who are your peers or supervisors? It is simple but powerful test that defines how successful you are as a servant leader. Low or damaged trust means that you need to look at what are you doing that causes distrust, and look at how you are developing the culture. It is a risk, but success comes from essentially believing in others—and the potential they have. The elements of the servant leader culture are the same communication and collaborative skills successful in coaching.

The culture of collaboration that Servant-Leaders develop includes:c2

  • Trust and respect in everyday situations,
  • Equalitarian attitudes among members at all ranks,
  • Power based on expertise and accountability,
  • Shared leadership where all members take initiative,
  • Commitment to the success of other members, rather than just one’s own success,
  • Valuing the truth and truth-telling,
  • Commitment to continuous improvement of the whole organization,
  • Active learning, and
  • Personal responsibility. (Davis 2015)

A Servant-Leader works toward consensus to do the right thing, but the right thing may differ depending on the audience. While not everyone will agree, in consensus decision making the team will support the decision and not purposely undermine it. This is the decision that can be claimed by everyone in the group, it is not about the leader.

As servant-leaders, building a collaborative environment, we need to listen for the needs of others. Create a fear-free space where they can be heard.  We have an obligation to remember to celebrate their successes often, and praising them for taking risks.

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Beglau, M., Craig Hare, J., Foltos, L., Gann, K., James, J., Jobe, H., Knight, J., & Smith, B. (2011). Technology, coaching, and community: Power partners for improved professional development in primary and secondary education (White Paper). Retrieved from International Society for Technology in Education website:

Davis, D. J. (2015, April 10). Servant Leadership and Compassionate Collaboration (Pillar … Retrieved October 21, 2016, from

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Corwin Press. Chapter 5

McCuistion, D. (2013, July 16). 9 Ways to Motivate People Using Servant Leadership … Retrieved October 21, 2016, from

Zisa, J. (2013, June 20). Listen to Serve: Servant Leadership and the Practice of … Retrieved October 21, 2016, from

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3 thoughts on “Working Toward a Collaborative Culture

  1. I like this part, “Create a fear-free space where they can be heard.” I think technology can help so much with this. Freeing up of time and space, as well as opportunities for introverts. Further, every voice can be heard regardless of time constraints or schedule shortcomings!

  2. Thanks for the reminder of praising others for taking risks- it’s can be a hard thing to do with so much pressure to do well all the time. Thanks Shannon!

  3. Lori and Kaity raise great points. That fear free space is a first step toward encouraging risk taking. Really looking forward to learning more about your thoughts on the culture that encourages these behaviors.

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