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Teacher-Principal Trust and Their Relationships

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Trust is the backbone of human beings’ relationships and interconnectedness within themselves. Trust plays a large role in human social interactions, business transactions, and an organization’s succession plan. As long as effective leadership is measured by organizational outcomes, leaders need to work to influence the people in organizations to achieve desired goals. For leaders to be trusted in an organization, they need to have integrity, truthfulness, and transparency. If organization members are to be influenced, persuaded, and motivated to perform at their best, leadership, trust, and relationships need to coexist between organizational leaders and followers.

School settings are also organizational settings, and school principals should also prioritize gaining the trust of their teachers. Due to rapid changes globally and increased complexities within schools, principals must forge relationships with teachers and cultivate a climate of trust with school communities. Leader-Member-Exchange theory (LMX), developed by Fred Dansereau, George Graen, and William J. Haga, emphasizes the importance of trust and mutual respect between leaders and followers. This notion was also supported by the Social Exchange theory. In pursuit of student achievement, school principals seek reciprocal exchanges that can lead to trust among teachers. Because the teacher is ranked as the first factor that influences learning and predicts student achievement, school principals should work closely with teachers by gaining their trust, and build trusting school environments that pave ways for learning enhancements and school development.