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Resilient Leadership: Part 3 Trust

Resilient Leaders are trusting leaders. Trust can be defined as an expectation or belief that you can rely on somebody else’s actions and not just their words. You believe that person has the good intentions to carry out any undertakings or promises. When you look at it like that, it is difficult to imagine how […]

Resilient Leaders are trusting leaders.

Trust can be defined as an expectation or belief that you can rely on somebody else’s actions and not just their words. You believe that person has the good intentions to carry out any undertakings or promises.

When you look at it like that, it is difficult to imagine how schools can grow and move forward if trust is missing. How can you build a successful school if you believe that parties within it are prone to spreading rumours, subterfuge or even out right lying? Nodding in meetings and paying lip service to new ideas and initiatives, with no intention of carrying them out.

One of the traits of successful school leaders, therefore, is to the ability to inspire trust. More than this though, it is the ability to give trust in return.

‘Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.’
Warren Bennis

Trust is a trait of leadership that does not always come easily but the first job of a school leader is to inspire trust. In order for staff to trust you as a leader, they need to have confidence in you. Stephen Covey, in his seminal work ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, argues that confidence is born out of the two ‘Cs’:

Competence

&

Character

Both are essential to successful school leadership.

Competence is about your capabilities, results, and track record. It involves other people’s perceptions that you possess the knowledge and skills to do the job, along with the interpersonal skills and wisdom to succeed at it. No governing body is likely to appoint a senior leader without the evidence of good results and references. Similarly, staff tend to have more respect for a leader, who ‘knows their stuff’ and can ‘inhabit their world’. One regret that I have is that in my second headship, as the school grew and grew, I spent more and more time on admin and less and less time doing any actual teaching.

Character is about your motives and intentions with people; your perceived benevolence if you like. It is the extent to which you are believed to want to do good for staff and pupils. It is also about the perception of your integrity and the extent to which you follow ethical principles. Lose your integrity as a leader and it is pretty much game over!

You simply cannot be an effective leader without trust.

A clarity of purpose, optimism and the ability to build trust are the foundations of resilient school leadership.

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