Compelling Leadership – part 3


Compelling Leadership – part 3

2 May ’18 Leadership 0

With six of the ten key practices that engender trust between a leader and their staff reviewed, there are four to cover.

How trusted are you as a leader? In this, the third instalment of my review Compelling Leadership: The importance of trust and how to get it with potted self-reflections, I cover the two practices that were regularly underlined by the first, truly inspirational headteacher I worked for (care for staff and keeping a confidence), via a third, mentoring and coaching.

Remain calm and level-headed

A consistent, predictable manner and approach to situations engenders the trust of staff.

People by nature want to know what they are going to get when they met with, engage with the head. If the leader acts in a reasonable and predictable way staff will respect and trust them (Barna, 2009; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006). Knowing that a leader’s behaviour will be respectful and focused on the agenda of the staff member rather than themselves, gives staff confidence and provides them with a feeling of safety. Level headedness engenders safety.

In addition, I would add, that when I know I am personally having an off day, I try and limit my interactions with others.

Can I foresee, plan and prepare for situations that may be destabilising?

Mentor and coach staff

Another reminder – Trust is a socially constructed phenomenon. With that in mind, I benefited from the mentoring and coaching from my Headteacher as a newly appointed AHT. His oversight of my career continues to date. It is hardly surprising then, that I see this as a leadership responsibility.

To add clarity, Paul explains the difference between the two.

“Coaching is task-orientated, performance driven and usually short-term; while mentoring is relationship-orientated, development driven and typically long-term (Clutterbuck, 2008).”

I also learnt that neither role has a greater bearing on the development of trust; what is important to staff members is the investment on the part of their leader in their development. As a result staff members become empowered to manage difficult situations themselves.

I was surprised to learn that giving of critical feedback, was valued and seen as being a vital part of their professional growth.

Care for staff members

Schools are relationship-orientated organisations. The question then is, how do we show genuine care for staff?

Effective leaders care enough to want to learn about their staff so they can act with compassion and empathy towards them (Boyatzis & McKee, 2005).

Staff that recognise care or compassion of a leader, offer their trust to a leader.

Keep confidences

In any kind of relationship, confidentiality is essential to maintaining trust. quite simply “a breach of confidentiality may cost that relationship” (Reina & Reina, 2006).

Knowing that the leader could ‘keep their own counsel’ encouraged staff members to broach difficult discussions that might otherwise have been avoided.

For me, the setting and attentiveness to these important conversations is essential and connects closely with both active listening and mentoring and coaching.

In conversation, with Paul he added

When you are trusted people will share things with you. I always ask the question, ‘do you want me to do something about this or are you just telling me because you need to share?’ However, on the rare occasion I have to tell the person that I do have to act on what they have told me but I will keep them updated with anything they need to know. Dr Paul Browning

Paul went onto day

Since the study I have found myself always asking the question, “even though this is going to be hard, how do I go about this [decision] so I build trust?” I have found myself being more intentional with each of the 10 practices.

That is why I have taken the time to write and reflect on his research. To deeply reflect on my practice. In the coming days, I will create a ten practices or trust an aide memoir.

I dedicate this post to Ian Knights – who often reminded me that there was little more a head teacher could do for their staff member than hold a confidence.


Next: The erosion of trust


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