Date of Award

Spring 3-27-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas DeVore, EdD

Second Advisor

Jonathan Greenberg, EdD

Third Advisor

Lisa Simon, EdD


Purpose. The purpose of this explanatory mixed-methods study was to identify and describe how middle school principals established trust with teachers using Weisman’s (2010) five domains of trust: connection, concern, candor, competence, and consistency (5Cs). In addition, it was the purpose of this study to determine middle school principals’ perceived degree of importance of the 5Cs for building trust.

Methodology. This explanatory mixed-methods study used surveys and face-to-face interviews with 12 middle school principals to gather data regarding the approaches used to build trust. The survey assessed the degree of importance of the 5Cs for building trust, whereas the interviews gathered data regarding strategies and behaviors they used to build trust within the 5C domains.

Findings. The study revealed middle school principals perceived listening, meeting staff needs, maintaining an open-door policy, connecting on a personal level, maintaining regular communication, developing shared values, referencing vision and mission statements, using a shared leadership approach, analyzing data together, offering rewards, demonstrating transparency, keeping staff informed, and providing and receiving feedback are strategies perceived as important to build trust with staff.

Conclusions. The study supported the conclusion that middle school principals build trust and develop a positive school culture when they engage in active listening, have an open-door policy, communicate regularly, and keep their staff informed. Overall, it was concluded the 5Cs are important for building trust in middle schools, although communication was the factor that tied the 5Cs together and was found relevant to each domain.

Recommendations. Further research is suggested for the replication of the study from the perspective of the school staff to create a deeper understanding of how principals build trust and what strategies staff view as most important. In addition, this study was delimited to southern California, so it is recommended the study be replicated in other states.