Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Barbara Rieckhoff

Second Advisor

Donna Kiel


Reciprocal trust among leaders in education improves the learning outcomes for students, which is the primary goal for educators. Researchers studying administrative teams have found the degree and level of reciprocal trust that exists in a learning organization between district-level leaders and principals can aid or impede the implementation of policies and initiatives. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the practices that develop reciprocal trust between principals and district-level school administrators. This study was informed by semi-structured interviews with five principals who serve in K-8 schools. Participants identified communication, decision-making structures, relationships, and leadership styles as elements that impacted reciprocal trust. Principals interviewed value reciprocal trusting relationships with central office leaders and welcome opportunities to engage in building that trust. This study adds to the research indicating intentional communication, collaborative decision-making processes, a focus on building relationships, and self-reflection on leadership styles, cultivate an environment where reciprocal trust is established.