“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. 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. 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.
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.
 Cornella, “Principal leadership,” 3181.
 Megan Tschannen-Moran, “Fostering Teacher Professionalism in Schools: The Role of Leadership Orientation and Trust,” Educational Administration Quarterly 45, no. 2 (2009): 217-247.
 Ibid., 247.