Competency Builds Trusted School Leadership

“I don’t trust words. I trust actions.” – Unknown[1]

Trusted school leaders are skilled in their area of work. They are competent professionals, current on the latest research and best practices in their field. They understand the complexities of the contemporary issues facing schools and develop professional opinions based on their own intentional exposure to current literature and research.[2] These school leaders direct others in the decision-making process and in choices founded on the best current resources, to keep the school moving in a vibrant direction of authentic and continual improvement, relevant to ever-changing student needs.[3]

As I have noted in the past, there is also surprising and amazing research that demonstrates benefits to student performance when they have a high level of trust in competent leaders and trusted school brands; even in the use of physical tools and objects associated with that trusted brand. When a leader or school is known for a high level of Precision, not only does that endear trust in the school and its leadership, but it also results in the individual placing that trust performing better themselves.[4]

For example, when a student struggles with a challenging task, four separate research studies demonstrate that if the student utilizes tools associated with a trusted brand their individual achievement is higher. Utilizing a trusted brand enhances feelings of self-efficacy, which can also result in a higher level of achievement. “Students scored higher on difficult Graduate Records Examination questions when they took the test using a Massachusetts Institute of Technology pen and showed better athletic performance when they drank water from a Gatorade cup during strenuous athletic exercise.”[5] That is amazing! Not only does a high level of trust in the competent school bring loyalty and commitment to the school, it also results in a higher level of performance by their students.

©2017 Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.


[1] This saying is one of the most popular posts on social media. A Google search on this quote resulted in over 49,000,000 results on 30 June 2016.

[2] Sheri-Lynne Leskiw and Parbudyal Singh, “Leadership development: learning from best practices,” Leadership & Organization Development Journal 28, no. 5 (2007): 444-464.

[3] Kenneth Leithwood, Karen Seashore Louis, Stephen Anderson, and Kyla Wahlstrom, “Review of research How leadership influences student learning,” The Wallace Foundation Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (October 2004): 1-90.

[4] V. M. J. Robinson, C. A. Lloyd, and K. J. Rowe, “The Impact of Leadership on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Differential Effects of Leadership Types,” Educational Administration Quarterly 44, no. 5 (2008): 635-674.

[5]  Ji Kyung Park and Deborah Roedder John, “I Think I Can, I Think I Can: Brand Use, Self-Efficacy, and Performance,” Journal of Marketing Research 51, no. 2 (2014): 233-247.

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