Blog posts from Research for Better Teaching

The Interpersonal Skills Leaders Use to Build Trust

By Jon Saphier - July 13, 2015

“Trust” is the foundation that successful leaders build on to create strong Adult Professional Cultures. The following list of skills that successful leaders use to build trust. They are derived primarily from the book Trust in Schools by Tony Bryk and Barbara Schneider.

A leader who strengthens Adult Professional Culture builds trust  by:

  • Being competent;
  • Always keeping his/her word;
  • Being considerate and polite;
  • Being visible frequently in halls and classrooms;
  • Listening actively and having productive conversations with teachers;
  • Respecting different points of view;
  • Being transparent and forthcoming with information about what is going on, how processes work, and how decisions are made;
  • Revealing his or her own vulnerability to make it safe for others to make mistakes;
  • Participating actively as a learner in professional development;
  • Demonstrating sincerity, reliability, and integrity;
  • Standing up consistently for important values and commitments;
  • Protecting staff from the destructive behavior of others.

In sum, great leaders show vulnerability and strength at the same time. They show vulnerability by acknowledging their mistakes, what they don’t know and need help with; and strength in consistently standing up for and pushing for core values and commitments that are most important for student success.