School’s morale and the shift to caring leadership

The challenge of cultivating caring leadership is demanding.  Since caring leadership requires more than managing communities of teaching and learning, it embodies a balance of academic press and support.

Enhancing strong academic press and social support will benefit the students in their engagement to be academically and socially success. Thus, there is a quintessential central quality of academic and social support which is crucial – caring.

What is caring leadership about?

The definition of caring is vast.  It varies according to different context and perception.

Specifically, caring can be defined as a process of facilitating growth in his or her “own right”.   As such, it is something intended and expressed, perceived and receive by the cared for. So, why should one care?

Caring serves a wide spectrum of purposes.  For example, one of them is to promote the general development, welfare, and well-being of others.

In a way, showing compassion addresses the immediate needs of others.  However,  what makes it greater is the capacity to care through the experience of caring and being cared for. Moreover, a little act of kindness creates an endless ripple.

Caring should be expressed on multiple levels in a school.  In effect, it all starts from the principal, the level of teachers as they work collaboratively, and the level students as they work with peers.

How can school leaders be caring?

To be a caring leader, one must understand the five core elements revolving around caring relationships. These five elements are:

  1. Attentiveness
  2. Motivational displacement
  3. Situational
  4. Mutuality
  5. Authenticity

To express care to others, leaders must engage deeper and longer relationships, which involve the core element–attentiveness.

Perhaps, students in a school are in the zone of proximal emotional development. With this, they perceive the interactions from a supportive adult as a manifestation of compassion. In this case, it is the principal, teachers, or other school leaders.

Other than that, one condition to express care is trust. Trust is an expectation that others will be honest, and exert effort in good faith effort.

By creating a base of mutual support, it is a basic regard for the dignity of others!

In addition, caring leaders should also understand that continuity is also a vital enabling condition.  This can be enhanced when there is a connection between the past, present, and future because it creates a context for the relationship.

Furthermore, a caring leadership provides a safe, secure and conducive learning environment for the students.  This should be of utmost priority for a caring leader.

Next, caring leaders should inculcate the sense of ownership, share responsibility, and acknowledge accountability to motivate others to succeed. This will yield mutuality in the school environment.

How can this be practiced in schools?

As one cliché goes, “sharing is caring.”

Technically, low mobility or turnover among the teachers and students can engage a more stable, trustworthy, deeper and longer relationship. As a result, this creates the enabling condition for caring.

For the principal, he or she should never neglect teachers’ socio-emotional health. Teachers, who are cared for and supported, may provide classroom environments. As a result, this will contribute to broader goals of youth development.

When principals express care about teachers’ well-being, students are more likely to excel.

Moreover, school leaders should restructure schooling as caring communities. Actions that could be done include:

  1. engaging the school community in a shared vision
  2. introducing self-assessments related to caring among school members
  3. shaping school organizational culture through supportive structures
  4. nurture caring relationships in the school community.

How could this affect the school?

The school in which the leaders express care for, the students become more engaged as they have the sense of belonging to the school.

Students in the school ends up motivated and productive. In lieu to this, being caring can contribute to students’ academic achievement too.

Essentially, social and emotional learning (SEL) has a direct impact on one’s ability to show compassion. When people such as the students are responsible and if they have the sense of being a part of the community, this will develop a healthier mindset in children, eventually causing them to thrive.

Apart from that, a caring community will make people feel respected as they treat each other with dignity. Despite his or her position or niche in that school, equal opportunities lead to personal growth or professional development.

Therefore, a caring school leader will enable teachers to engage more interactively with the students, with more interesting and creative materials, and break the rigid boundary between adults and students.

At the end of the story, caring leadership can build a positive learning community in which every member cares and everyone can flourish.


Louis, K. S., Murphy, J., & Smylie, M. (2016). Caring Leadership in Schools Findings From Exploratory Analyses. Educational Administration Quarterly, 0013161X15627678.

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