4 Indicators of Connection

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

Trusted school leaders are perceived by those they lead as friends. They feel connected. In earlier posts, while addressing the leadership pillar of Commitment, a study was referenced that also supports the pillar of Connection. In that study, the following characteristics were noted as indicators of trusted school leadership: (1) valuing human relationships, (2) shared decision-making, and (3) being visible and approachable.[1] Consider how all three characteristics are present in relationships where people are perceived as friends and connected.

Another study involving eighty middle schools in the Mid-Atlantic States of the USA identified a fourth indicator: greater teacher professionalism when a strong Connection exists between leaders and faculty.[2] This study revealed that leaders, who intentionally avoid a top-down approach to school governance, and focus on empowering teachers, lead schools where teachers are self-motivated in their professional development.

For schools to foster greater teacher professionalism, school leaders would do well to resist adopting a bureaucratic orientation, with its implicit distrust. They would be better served by exercising their administrative authority with a professional orientation, extending adaptive discretion to teachers in the conduct of their work, and adopting practices that lead to strong trust among school leaders, teachers, students, and parents.[3]

How is that accomplished? How do school leaders intentionally build that level of Connection between themselves and those they lead? In the coming weeks, I will present four responsibilities of school leaders that result in greater Connection and deeper levels of trust: (1) Affirmation – Celebrating Success and Acknowledging Failure, (2) Culture – Fostering Community, (3) Relationships – Demonstrating Awareness of Others and their Needs, and (4) Visibility – Quality Contact and Interaction.

©2018 Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.

[1] Cornella, “Principal leadership,” 3181.

[2] Megan Tschannen-Moran, “Fostering Teacher Professionalism in Schools: The Role of Leadership Orientation and Trust,” Educational Administration Quarterly 45, no. 2 (2009): 217-247.

[3] Ibid., 247.

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