(Originally posted on Building our Learning Capacity Through Creative Collaboration.)

By Beate PLanche.

We use the words trust, trustworthiness and trusting rather easily in our conversations with others as we think about how to move things forward in our schools.    Do we have a shared understanding of how to build it?   I have experienced that when a school culture has dealt with major upheaval in leadership or staff instability, trust becomes more illusive and can be difficult to regain.  I am pondering what it is about the social capital of trust that makes such a difference in schools.

Megan Tschannen Moran wrote about various facets of trust which help us to understand its dynamic more deeply.  Applying her facets ( 2004, p. 34) to my understanding of leadership and the trust that evolves with effective leaders, I am left with the following reflections on leadership behaviours:

Leaders – formal and informal – perceived as benevolent – demonstrating  a caring attitude, having positive intentions and positive interactions with others, showing appreciation, being seen as fair in their deliberations –  are more easily able to elicit impressions of trustworthiness because of their apparent approachability.

Leaders – formal and informal – who demonstrate integrity, honouring agreements, accepting responsibility, avoiding manipulating others – earn our trust by their follow through, dispositions and apparent authenticity.

Leaders – formal and informal – who engage in open conversations, make information available, delegate responsibilities, and who share power and decision making – inspire our trust in them because of the apparent transparency with which they lead.

Leaders – formal and informal – who are reliable, demonstrate commitment and dedication to their work – are deemed trustworthy because they appear to walk the talk the leadership.

Leaders – formal and informal – who set the example of persistence and hard work, who are able to demonstrate problem solving ability along with flexibility, who are able to handle difficult situations – are admired for their competence and we soon trust their judgement because we get a sense they have proven themselves to us.

Trusting our leaders involves our perceptions and emotions.  The trustworthiness of leaders is built on a foundation of our thoughts and experiences with them.beatePLanche-quote

Trust is social glue needed in schools to help others risk take and move forward.  Trust is social capital that we must foster in ourselves and model for our students. Trust matters greatly in my view.     What are your thoughts about trust as it applies to improving schools?



Beate PLanche is an Educator, Consultant & Researcher and Former Superintendent. She shares her insights on her website, Building our Learning Capacity Through Creative Collaboration. Follow Beate on Twitter at @bmplanche.