Risk, trust and leadership

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In an education policy environment of high-stakes school reform and accountability, it goes without saying that the risks associated with school leadership, especially for principals and headteachers, will escalate and that the need for calculated strategies of risk assessment and management is magnifi ed signifi cantly. Likewise, with the ever-present looming threat of public humiliation (and even dismissal) for school leaders, due to their schools’ inability to attain performative targets, trust and the ability of school leaders to be able to build and sustain relationships of trust, assume an increasingly high priority. Curiously, however, until recently, discussion of risk and trust in school leadership has been limited or even rare. Apart from the recent contributions of Gronn ( 2009 ) and Thomson ( 2009 ), consideration of risk, for the most part, has been conspicuous by its absence, although in the realm of trust the picture has been slightly more encouraging, in both the UK (e.g. Bottery 2003 ) and the USA (e.g. Bryk & Schneider 2002 ). With regard to trust, this school leadership situation contrasts with that of the general leadership fi eld, where Dirks and Skarlicki ( 2004 : 20-1), for example, assert that trust has been acknowledged by scholars for over four decades as an important issue for leaders. On the other hand, Luhmann ( 1988 : 94) claims that trust ‘has never been a topic of mainstream sociology’ and, in the social sciences more generally, Kramer ( 1999 : 570, 581) is equally insistent that scholarly interest in trust accelerated only as recently as the 1990s, a view with which Hardin (2008: 1) broadly concurs – due mainly to the foregrounding of the benefi ts of trust for societies in the writings of such scholars as Putnam ( 1993 ) and Fukuyama ( 1995 ). Even so, this explanation still begs the question of why such benefi ts may have become of interest only in this recent period. Despite this rather patchy picture, trust and risk, as is shown below, are key elements in what it means to be a professionally responsible school leader. Knowledge of the parts they play and how they function in schools is required for enhanced understanding of the leadership of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProfessional Responsibility
Subtitle of host publicationNew Horizons of Praxis
EditorsCiaran Sugrue, Tone Dyrdal Solbrekke
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780203093689
ISBN (Print)9780415614634, 9780415614627
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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