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Tom Willis in conversation with Dr. Toby Travis

Dr. Toby Travis

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Listen to Dr. Toby Travis, Head of School at Houghton Academy on the Culture Eats Everything Podcast in conversation with Tom Willis.

Read more about Dr. Toby Travis:

An experienced educator and academic leader passionate about authentic and quality Christian education. Successful professional development trainer committed to continual data-informed improvement to ensure greater mission fulfillment.

Author of "TrustED: The Bridge to School Improvement." This award-winning book for educational leaders reached #1 on Amazon's Educational Leadership category book downloads in April 2023, has been featured in Forbes, CEOWorld Magazine, Authority Magazine, The Knowledge Review, eSchool News, on NPR, as well as numerous podcasts - and was named "Book of The Month" (November 2021) and nominated for "Book of The Year" (2021) by The Magic Pen.

Dr. Travis has developed resources for assessing the trust level of leaders. The data from the leadership assessment is utilized to inform individualized professional development action plans and customized training grounded in research-validated and practice-based methods, which, when implemented, increase the level of trust in leaders - and measurable business, organization, or school improvement (e.g., student achievement levels, behavior management levels, community support, financial stability, and employee retention).

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YouTube Transcript

Dr. Travis, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for joining me on the podcast today. I am truly excited to have this conversation with you, given your fascinating background spanning from the United States to Ecuador and your extensive experience as a school leader, superintendent, and head of school for 15 years. With a young child and an upcoming move to a new school in New York, I can't wait to dive into today's topic, focusing on your book that revolves around the crucial concept of trust.

In this day and age, where trust levels continue to plummet across various industries and sectors, it is essential to explore what is happening in the world with trust. Studies and assessments consistently indicate a trust crisis globally, but amidst the disheartening news, there is a glimmer of hope. Your doctoral work and the insights you share in your book, "Trusted: The Bridge to School Improvement," highlight a significant finding: trusted leadership stands as the number one indicator of school success. It's fascinating to see that regardless of how we define success, be it in terms of student achievement, teacher retention, community support, or financial stability, high levels of trusted leadership consistently correlate with positive outcomes.

Trust, as you eloquently put it, is magical. When a healthy and positive relationship exists between leadership and staff, remarkable things happen. People feel safe to take risks, to explore new ideas, and to push boundaries. Motivation soars, and deeper engagement becomes the norm. Conversely, without addressing the issue of trust, long-term improvement becomes elusive. This is evident from the alarming statistic that 70% of school initiatives fail, mirroring the failures seen in startup businesses and corporate improvement initiatives. Execution alone is not enough; positive and healthy relationships rooted in trust are crucial for sustainable improvement and authentic change.

As we embark on this journey to explore exceptional cultures and how CEOs and superintendents create them, it becomes clear that trust is the foundational building block. It empowers individuals, sparks inspiration, and aligns aspirations with action. Your expertise and experience shed light on the immense value of trust, and I can't help but marvel at the fact that, with the right support, what used to take five years as a school superintendent can now be accomplished in just five months. Together, let's unlock the magic of trust and pave the way for exceptional cultures and lasting improvement.

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