Date of Award

Spring 4-5-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Doug DeVore, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Len Hightower, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lisbeth Johnson, Ed.D.


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

Methodology: This mixed-methods research design used quantitative and qualitative data to analyze the research questions related to trust between elementary principals and their staff. The study combined surveys and in-person interviews. The quantitative data were gathered via a 10-question online Likert Scale survey. The results of the quantitative survey guided qualitative data gathering. The population for this study included elementary principals in San Diego County.

Findings: Qualitative findings of this research suggest that elementary principals demonstrate trust building strategies from each of the 5 trust domains, with competence as most significant to building trust with staff. Additionally, quantitative findings concurred that the trust domain of competence was perceived as most important to creating trust.

Conclusions: The study’s findings supported by literature conclude the need for elementary principals to integrate leadership strategies from each of the 5 trust domains in order to build trust with staff. Elementary principals can build a culture of trust by demonstrating the following behaviors: (a) developing positive relationships with staff members through meaningful interactions, (b) demonstrating genuine care and concern for staff’s personal needs and well-being, (c) setting clear expectations through open and honest communication, (d) building the capacity of teams through shared decision-making, and (e) leading by example demonstrating consistency and alignment between words and actions.

Recommendations: The researcher recommends state administrative credentialing programs implementing emotional intelligence coursework to build the emotional capacity of principals in developing trust. Additionally, school districts should provide principals ongoing coaching and professional development around the 5 domains of connection, concern, candor, competence, and consistency in order to support principals to acquire the leadership skills needed to build and sustain trust.