Trust in Paul
Trust in Paul

Trust in Paul

Back in 2016 I read an article by Dr Paul Browning (Headmaster of St Paul’s School in northern Brisbane) at the same time that ASCL published their think-piece – Blueprint for a Self-Improving System. The opening quotation still resonating loudly and regularly in my thinking.

You can mandate adequacy; you can’t mandate greatness. It has to be unleashed. – Joel Klein

I think the main reason I associate the two documents together is because they both employ metaphorical butterflies.I sought out and stored an electronic copy of Paul’s article and added it to my leadership folder.

The article offers a framework for transformative leadership and discusses the importance of creating and sustaining trust as a leader. The article also offers ten practices taken from a cross-case analysis of four highly transformational leaders.

10 practices of transformational leaders:

  1. Openly admits mistakes – 2 (I felt that admitting mistakes was almost a signal of poor practice in the first place.)
  2. Offers trust to staff (I knew that this was an area for professional development. I didn’t recognise the deferred benefit of growing capacity in others.)
  3. Actively listens – 2 (I knew that I was too easily distracted. I was trying to do too much, partly due to the fact that I wasn’t trusting others enough).
  4. Provides affirmation – 2 (I did recognise others both privately and publicly, however an area for improvement and hence my support of World Teacher Day and other recognition actions)
  5. Makes informed/consultative decisions – 3
  6. Is visible around the school – 4
  7. Remains calm and level-headed – 3
  8. Mentors and coaches staff – 3
  9. Cares for staff – 3/4
  10. Keeps confidences – 3/4

The scores are those I gave myself back in 2016.

These ten practices where then constructed and built into a rubric for trust and transformational leadership practice (see the article).

Other take-aways included

Trust is a socially constructed phenomenon, it is understood through the lens of past, personal life experiences. Hence, one practice maybe of value to one person but have no value to another.

School leaders need to engender, build and sustain trust, service alone won’t do it.

Trust is both intriguing and elusive. The concept is hard to define but we certainly know when it is missing.

With strong levels of trust, schools are three times more likely to be categorised as improving in reading and mathematics than those with very weak reports. (Bryk and Schneider’s (2002) extensive research into the effectiveness of the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act).

You can hear from Paul yourself here.

When “Dr Paul Browning’s” name appeared in Chartered College of Teachers communication, I swiftly booked a ticket for myself and for a senior college (see point 8 and 9).

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