Middle and senior leaders have multiple relationships, some horizontal and some vertical, within the school and within the wider community. These include relationships with other leaders, teachers, support staff, whānau, parents, community groups, and students. All these relationships require trust.

Middle and senior leaders build trust by:

  • showing interest in the careers and aspirations of those they lead, encouraging them to take on new roles, and providing professional development opportunities
  • providing a supportive teaching and learning environment with appropriate resources
  • being open and transparent in appraising staff
  • carrying out classroom observations and having others observe their own practice
  • participating in professional development
  • encouraging innovations that improve students’ learning.

As well as building relationships with the wider school and community, middle and senior leaders must build trust within their teams. They foster this by encouraging all members to join in discussions aimed at improving teaching and learning (Bennett et al., 2007).

When the whole group shares the vision and participates in decision-making, a sense of collective ownership is developed. This enables the group to reflect critically, as a team, on their progress (Clarke, 2009).

Becoming a leader always involves taking on new challenges. Inevitably, these challenges include dealing with changes in relationships as leaders find themselves accountable for the professional development of their colleagues (Cardno, 2007a).

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