How Leaders Earn Confidence and Trust

Written By dwalker

On January 19, 2010

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Our current political environment invites criticism of those in local, state and national leadership roles.  There is a great deal of conjecture about the reasoning for various leadership decisions and about hidden agendas.  Sometimes negative intentions are ascribed to the actions of leaders, especially elected officials.  School leaders are not immune from this kind of criticism.

What is important, it seems to me, is for those in leadership roles to do three critical things to lead effectively and engender trust:

  1. Be transparent about motives, actions and expected outcomes.  This requires clear and frequent communication using language that is easily understood.  It also requires that words and actions are congruent.  Finally, it requires openness and principled decision-making.
  2. Be collaborative, engaging those affected by your leadership in ongoing dialogue about needs, aspirations and concerns.  Listening to staff and considering their ideas as you make decisions is an important part of leadership.
  3. Develop the leadership of others.  School leadership is not a solo act.  Distributing leadership builds your school’s capacity for improvement and also gains commitment from staff.  Shared leadership helps others to be part of the solution rather than critics of the problems.

Those in formal leadership roles owe it to their constituents to be engaged, collaborative and open to the ideas and leadership of others.  Are there other leadership behaviors you would recommend?