ERIC Number: EJ1127024
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Abstractor: As Provided
How Leaders Communicate Their Vulnerability: Implications for Trust Building
Meyer, Frauke; Le Fevre, Deidre M.; Robinson, Viviane M. J.
International Journal of Educational Management, v31 n2 p221-235 2017
Purpose: The notion of vulnerability underlies relationships of trust. Trust between leaders and staff is needed to solve concerns that hinder equity and excellence in teaching and learning. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether and how leaders show vulnerability by disclosing own possible contributions to concerns they try to resolve. Design/Methodology/Approach: Data included transcripts of conversations held by 27 educational leaders about a concern with another staff and a questionnaire about the nature, causes and history of the concern. Questionnaire analysis identified if and how leaders described their own possible contribution prior to the conversation. Transcript analysis identified instances of leaders' contribution disclosure. Findings: Results indicate that while two-thirds of leaders identified an own contribution, when prompted prior to the conversation, one-third saw no own contribution. Leaders indicated contributing by not acting on the concern, by acting in ways inappropriate or insufficient to resolve the concern, or by not clearly communicating their concern in the past. Eight of the 27 leaders publicly disclosed their contribution in the actual conversation. In some conversations this disclosure prompted reciprocal disclosure of information about the concern and its causes by the other person, aiding a more effective concern resolution. Originality/Value: Through examining leaders' interpersonal behavior in difficult conversations, the importance of leaders' acknowledgments of own mistakes and communication of their own vulnerability is highlighted. A positive view of vulnerability is argued for, epistemic vulnerability, which manifests itself in the willingness to be honest and open to learning by accepting one's own fallibility.
Descriptors: Leadership Styles, Organizational Communication, Trust (Psychology), Self Disclosure (Individuals), Problem Solving, Discourse Analysis, Instructional Leadership, Questionnaires, Content Analysis, Transcripts (Written Records), Self Concept, Interpersonal Communication, Leadership Responsibility, Graduate Students, Leadership Training, Interpersonal Competence, Data Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A