There is a considerable body of literature describing various theories and strategies for principals, school administrators, and teachers to improve schools. However, knowledge of such theories is not enough to ensure school improvement. Whitaker (2003) said, “The difference between more effective principals and their less effective colleagues is not what they know, it is what they do” (p. 1). Now more than ever, change is palpable, especially in the field of education. Effective leaders need to be equipped not only with theoretical knowledge but also have the ability to foster and sustain school improvement.In only 3 hours we’ll deliver a custom A Qualitative Investigation of Sustaining Spotlight Schools essay written 100% from scratch Get help
According to Fink (2000), the literature on change in schools has increased notably in recent years. The majority of this literature is focused on strategies to change ineffective schools. However, there has been limited research on how innovative schools were able to sustain their growth in such a difficult, diverse, volatile, and unforgiving world (Fink, 2000). Yet, the literature conveys that the principal’s leadership skills are crucial in creating effective schools (Kouzes & Posner, 1998; Levine & Lezotte, 1990). In addition, Marzano (2003) states, “leadership could be considered the single most important aspect of effective school reform” (p. 172). Likewise, Lambert (2003) believes, “as long as we have schools that need to be improved or improvements that need to be sustained, the role of the principal will be important (p. 43).
The situation of the Researcher
Over the past eleven years in administration, I have had ample opportunities to work with teachers to improve student achievement in high poverty and high minority districts. In my first administrative role, I was a K-3 reading coordinator responsible for facilitating professional development. For the past seven years, I have worked as a building principal at various grade levels. With each experience, my personal views on school improvement have changed.
As the K-3 reading coordinator, I was responsible for the district-wide implementation of all components of the Reading Excellence Act (REA). REA is Part B of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was signed into law on October 21, 1998. The act provides for competitively awarded grants from the federal government to states, and in turn from states to districts, to help improve the reading skills of pre-kindergarten through third grade children (Archived Information Reading Excellence Act, 2000). I was also responsible for, Reading First, another federal grant program awarded to the district. Reading First intended districts to have scientifically based reading programs and the assessment tools that go with it so that all children are ensured to learn how to read by third grade. The purpose of Reading First was to have districts use a scientifically based reading program and assessment tools to ensure that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade (Reading First, 2007).
One of my responsibilities for implementing these grants included planning, implementing and evaluating the professional development. While conducting research-based professional development sessions, I discovered that the teachers did not have a solid foundation in either reading content knowledge or pedagogical content knowledge. Coaching was made available to assist teachers in translating new knowledge into practice; however, opportunities to reflect deeply on teaching and learning were minimal. Therefore, teachers did not fully understand how to assess the impact of the changes they had made and determine if it was having an impact on improving student achievement. After three years of implementation, the analysis of the test scores indicated that the district had not demonstrated consistent growth. There was little evidence of sustainability. The questions I began to ask myself were: Why were test scores not improving consistently in all schools? Why couldn’t some schools sustain growth? I provided professional guidance, but were the practices being applied? What were the underlying causes that resulted in the uneven test scores?
As a principal, I was part of the district professional development initiative to help improve teaching practice and student achievement. My school showed an improvement in test results, while other schools sharing similar demographics within our district did not demonstrate the same positive results. The inconsistencies among schools in these two districts made me realize that there had to be causes that guided these differing results. The only difference was the positions I held. I was the principal in this district of one school. In my previous district, I was the K-3 reading coordinator and I had seven schools I was working with during that time.
These differing results guided my attempts to improve my own school. So, I began my quest by attending various educational conferences. I attended the No Child Left Behind conference, the annual meeting of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and more focused seminars including, Failure Is Not an Option: 50 Ways to Close the Achievement Gap and Professional Learning Communities. My purpose was to discover the causes of the differentiation in levels of academic performance among similar schools as well as strategies and practices that will improve my leadership skills. When speaking to other administrators implementing new strategies, I listened and gained insight from their knowledge and personal experiences. I found that the responses to my questions were very general and the principals’ answers allowed me to formulate a checklist of actions that were taken. After carefully analyzing the checklist I knew the “what”, but I still did not know the “how”. How did the leadership help in the success of the school? As previously noted, Whitaker (2003) stated knowing how to do it is the most important component.Academic experts
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Educational vendors are making millions of dollars providing people with books, tapes, and seminars on how to improve their schools. Throughout my career, I have read books on leadership traits, leadership theories and school improvement. It appears we have ample information telling us what to do, but something is missing. I knew among similar schools, some were succeeding, and some were not. What I really needed to know is can the leaders of a high poverty, high performing school, explain how they are able to sustain academic improvement?
Significance of the Study
Northern Illinois University (NIU) conducted a study for the Illinois State Board of Education to research high-poverty, high- performing schools (Billman, 2004). As a result of the study an awards program, Spotlight Schools, was established to recognize schools meeting and/or exceeding the program selection criteria. A school must meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and spotlight school requirements in order to qualify.
Schools receiving Spotlight School awards in the State of Illinois have grown from 27 schools in 2003 to 489 schools in 2009. However, few of these schools sustain high levels of performance over time. In 2009, only nine Illinois schools earned the Spotlight School Award for seven consecutive years and twenty-seven schools for six consecutive years.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to understand how leaders in three Spotlight Schools implemented change for improved student achievement and sustained such improvement over a six-year period. Gaining knowledge from how leaders in these schools have been able to sustain improvement over time may benefit other principals and school leaders to ensure long-term success in their respective schools. This study shall purport to answer the following four main research questions.
- What is the principal’s perspective on how he/she facilitates aspects of leadership that has contributed to student academic achievement?
- What is the principal’ perspective on how he/she facilitates aspects of leadership that has sustained academic performance over 6 years?
- What is the teachers’ perspective on how the principal facilitates aspects of leadership that contributes to student achievement?
- What is the teachers’ perspective on how the principal facilitates aspects of leadership that has sustained academic achievement?
While there is a plethora of literature on school leadership these theories do not provide a detailed description of how the leadership in these schools who are similar in demographics can produce and sustain similar results. Quanitative studies get lost in analysis whereas a case study will allow one to explore and understand how to sustain school improvement. Fullan (2005) states that the issue is not a shortage of qualified principals but a shortange of principals who have the capability of sustaining development in schools’ premises. Principals having the characterisitcs that ensure student success are rare to find and they need to be able to share with others the secrets to their success. Therefore, this qualitiative study specifically involves interviewing principals from high performing schools in high poverty districts to gain insight from their personal experiences and allow them to share their success.
The focus of this quanitiative case study will be on three principals who have sustained academic achievement over a six-year period and have won the Spotlight School award each year. It will focus on uncovering how and why principals have succeeded. In-depth and detailed deta derived from principal interviews, teacher interviews, document reviews and observations. More specifically, elaborated case studies will be conducted to allow me to explore and understand how to sustain school improvement.
The purpose of interviews conducted as part of elaborated case studies is to find out what happened, why and what it means more broadly… the hope in an elaborated case study is to be able to generalize to broader processes, to discover causes, and to explain or understand a phenomenon. (Rubin and Rubin, 2005, p. 7)15% OFF Get your very first custom-written academic paper with 15% off Get discount
Nisbet and Watt (1984) claim that a case study provides unique examples real life experiences of people in various situations. It enabling readers of case studies to understand ideas more clearly than simply presenting them with abstract theories or principles. Chelly (1996) points out that: Good story telling about a single case would provide better theoretical insights than multiple case research based on creating good constructs (p. 77). However, according to Merriam (1998), using cross-case analysis also known as mutiple case studies, collective case studies, comparative case studies, and multi-site studies allows the researcher to make more compelling interpretations. Cresswell (1998) supports this and adds that a collection of qualitative approaches where researchers explore cases over a period of time results in a detailed, in-depth data collection from multiple sources of information. This will include observations, interviews, documentaries and reports that relate to the cases. This study will use these multiple sources of data and create themes amongst the three sites to provide more support to the researcher’s interpretations. Yin (2002) also advocates that case studies are one of the research strategies used in conducting evaluations of public programs. Keeping with this understanding, Miles and Hubermann (1994) support multi-site cases as well.
By looking at a range of similar and contrasting cases, we can understand a single-case finding, grounding it by specifying how and where and, if possible, why it carries on as it does. We can strengthen the precision, the validity, and the stability of the findings. (Miles & Hubermann, 1994, p. 29)
Case studies may be complicated due to the fact that it involves multiple sources of information and may include multiple cases within just one study in order to come up with a considerable amount of data to be analyzed. Case studies are used with the backdrop of established theories. It can possibly to produce new theory, dispute or challenge a theory, explain a phenomenal situation, provide a basis in applying possible solutions to situations, explore, or describe an object or phenomenon. The advantages of the case study method as stated by (Merriam, 1998) are its relevance to real-lives that readers may relate to, and its public accessibility through the written report. They have been effective in studying education innovations and evaluating programs and informing policy. Yin (1994) describes the case study as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life content. Therefore, this case study will gather the data from real-life situations with real principals to gain a deeper understanding of leadership theory than the current literature provides. It will collect data to try and answer how these schools have been able to successfully meet state requirements and sustain growth.
Organization of the Study
This dissertation is presented in five chapters. Chapter one identifies the need for the study, the problem to address, the purpose of the study, the theory guiding the study, significance of the study, the research questions and a description of the organization of the study. Chapter two reviews the literature in two main sections. The first section discusses leadership and gives it a working definition. It provides three main theoretical frameworks that have dominated leadership research at different points in time and concludes with contemporary educational leadership theories. The second section will address school reform. It also reviews literature on effective schools, building the capacity for change and sustainability. Chapter three will delineate the research methodologies chosen covering how the study will be conducted using qualitative interviews of three “Spotlight Schools” principals in Illinois, focus groups with teachers, and review of documentation. In addition, the chapter will cover a review literature on qualitative research and the methodologies that are employed in this study. Chapter four will present the findings from the interviews, focus group, and document review. Lastly, chapter five will provide the conclusions based on the results of data analysis and specify the limitations of the study and will offer suggestions for future research.
Review of Literature
This chapter is organized around the review of two strands of literature. Taken together, these two strands of literature inform this study. The first strand includes three parts. The first part is a review and synthesis of various definitions of leadership culminating in a working definition that guides the study. The second part includes a review of literature associated with the four theoretical frameworks that have dominated the research on leadership in the United States. The first framework describes the trait approach which identifies personal traits and characteristics of leaders. The second framework describes the behavior approach, which identifies specific behaviors that would be effective for leaders to possess. The third framework describes the contingency or situational approach, which identifies how leaders’ effectiveness is contingent on a compatible relationship between the administrator’s personal qualities and style and the situation. The fourth framework concludes with a synthesis of contemporary school leadership theories.
The second strand of literature reviews school reform from three perspectives. First, a historical view of educational reform over time is identified. This section focuses on early legislation for school reform, No Child Left Behind legislation and the history and development of the Spotlight School Program in the State of Illinois. The Spotlight School program developed as a response by the State of Illinois educational officials in response to No Child Left Behind mandates. The section continues to describe the literature on effective schools and characteristics of leaders that facilitate change in high poverty, high performing schools. Finally, the researcher identifies theories on building a capacity for change in schools and sustaining these changes. The chapter concludes with a brief description of an overview of the contribution this study makes to the field of school leadership and school reform.
Leadership is a concept that has been the subject of both theory and research for many years. In fact, several authors have compiled extensive syntheses of this work and identify useful frameworks for understanding this body of literature (Gardner, 1990; Roust, 1991, Northouse, 2004; Bass & Bass, 2008). Gardner (1990) organized his synthesis of the literature in the following way. Using historical examples, he illustrated different aspects of good leadership and emphasized that it is not a one size-fits-all goal but rather, it is a process of clarifying who a leader is and how he best elicits progress in his organization. Roust (1991) organized his synthesis of the literature by examining the definitions of leadership from 1900-1979 and how they were used in the literature in the 1980s, the nature of leadership, leadership and management, leadership and ethics for the 1990s, and leadership in the future. In contrast, Northouse (2004) presented his synthesis of the literature by including a description of the leadership approach and a review and evaluation of the research studies applicable to the approach. Bass and Bass (2008) has completed one of the most recent and comprehensive presentations of this body of work. Bass and Bass (2008) organized their synthesis of the literature by theory and by timeframe, understanding that many of these theoretical constructs evolved and changed over the decades. For the purposes of this literature review, Bass and Bass (2008) will be used as the general organizational outline.Get your customised and 100% plagiarism-free paper on any subject done for only $16.00 $11/page Let us help you
There are many definitions of leadership that have developed over the years that reflect these different theoretical constructs. A useful means for presenting this evolving concept is to present the definition of leadership over the decades, beginning with the early 1900’s to the present time. Follett (1924) identified three types of leadership: the leadership of position, the leadership of personality and the leadership of function. Although she believed that leadership could be taught, she also was convinced that the key to effective leadership was establishing relationships in organizations, based on mutual understanding and respect. Bowden (1926) concluded from his research that the physical attributes of an individual do not have anything to do with leadership. He noted that no one particular personality trait is better than another, but depending on the leaders ability to compensate or make adjustments will determine a person’s ability to lead effectively. Tead (1935) defined leadership as “the activity of influencing people to cooperate toward some goal which they come to find desirable” (p. 20). Bernard (1938) stated,
Leadership…is the indispensable social essence that gives common meaning to common purpose, that creates the incentive that makes other incentives effective, that infuses the subjective aspect of countless decisions with consistency in a changing environment, that inspires the personal conviction the produces the vital cohesiveness without which cooperation is impossible (p. 283).
Moving into the 1940s, Davis (1942) stated leadership was “the principal dynamic force that motivates and coordinates the organization in the accomplishment of its objectives” (p. 12). By the 1950s, Stogdill (1950) explained leadership as “the process of influencing the activities of an organized group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement” (p. 4). This understanding held sway to some degree into the 1960s as noted by Bass and Bass (2008) that “…personal styles of leadership rose in prominence” (p. 46). For example, Merton (1969) defined leadership as “an interpersonal relation in which others comply because they want to, not because they have to” (p. 2615). Bass and Bass (2008) stated, “
From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, leadership studies became contingent on a mix of leaders’ and followers’ traits and situation. Leadership theories of inspiration and transformation emerged in the early 1980s and became prominent in the 1990s and at the turn of the twenty-first century (p. 46).
Gardner (1990) after a five year study on leaders and leadership defined leadership as “the process of persuasion or example by which an individual (or leadership team) induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader and his or her followers” (p.1). Hersey and Blanchard (1998) stated, “Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation” (p. 86). More recently, Chemers (2002) defined leadership as a “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task” (p. 1). Blankstein (2004) states, “The most effective leaders are able to collaboratively create and sustain changes that continually enhance student achievement” (p. 94). Clark (2008) stated:
Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership attributes, such as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills. (p. 1).
To summarize, finding a universal definition of leadership that will stand the test of time from the perspective of both theory and research, has proved to be elusive. Stogdill (1974) in an extensive review of leadership research noted that, “…there are as many definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to define it” (p.7). However, most of aforementioned definitions tend to focus on the leader as a person with specific traits or characteristics and/or how the leader and follower interact towards the attainment of a desired task or goal. For the purpose of this study, a working definition of leadership is the ability one has to influence, motivate and inspire others to engage in activities that will directly influence the success of the organization as a whole. Upon presentation of the data, it is most likely that this definition will be revised in accordance to the findings of this study.
Leadership Trait Approach. Simply put, the Trait approach of leadership clusters related theories sharing a common perspective that leaders have inborn qualities, or at least display certain key traits of leaders. Stogdill (1948, 1974) completed two extensive reviews of research on the trait approach. His first extensive review of 128 studies on the trait approach covered the timeframe from 1904 to 1948 (Stogdill, 1948). These studies aimed to identify traits distinguishing qualities of leaders from qualities of non-leaders. Some of the traits identified in the studies included: stature, height, weight, physique, energy, health, athletic ability, appearance (style of dress), fluency of speech, tone of voice, talkativeness, intelligence, judgment and decision making, insight, originality, adaptability, introversion-extroversion, self-sufficiency, dominance, initiative, persistence, ambition, assertiveness, persistence, integrity, conviction, liberalism, conservatism, self-confidence, inferiority, modesty, mood, excitability, anger, socioeconomic status, sociophysical activities (adventurous), tact and cooperation. Stogdill (1948) concluded from his first survey that the leader was different from the average individual in the leadership role in the following ways; intelligence, alertness, insight, responsibility, initiative, persistence, self-confidence and sociability. Stogdill also noted that even though a leader has all of the traits listed does not qualify him/her as a leader. The traits vary based on the situation; therefore, it is very possible for a leader possessing leadership traits in one situation to not be in leader in a different situation. Leadership traits are relevant to specific situations. His discovery from this first survey led him to complete a second survey to take a closer look at the relationship between leadership behaviors and leadership situations. Mann (1959) reviewed 28 studies that determined the relationship between personality and observer ratings of emergent leadership in small group and essentially replicated Stogdill’s 1948 findings. The traits he found for leaders were intelligence, masculinity, extroversion, adjustment, conservation and dominance.
In this second survey of 163 studies, Stogdill (1974) identified ten leadership traits. They were as follows: self-initiative, self-confidence, acceptance of consequences of action, stress resistance, vigor and persistence creativity in problem-solving, tolerance of frustration, drive for completion and responsibility ability to influence the behaviors of others, and the ability to structure situations of social interactions. He concluded from his second review that there was more of a balance between personality and situational factors. He validated that both personality and situational factors help determine leadership. Some of the differences in the research may have resulted in the amount of studies reviewed as well as having different groups that were studied. In the first survey more children and social groups were surveyed. In the second survey more work groups were surveyed.
There were many problems with the early trait leadership research that produced very inconsistent results. These inconsistencies caused empirical studies of leader traits to be abandoned in the late 1950s. However, when the reviews were finished, new and innovative methods and measurements were designed in order to reestablish the trait theory as a viable method in exploring leadership. The round robin research design was one example that allowed researchers to see what individuals can and do come out as leaders in a host of differing situations and (Kenny & Zaccaro, 1983). In the eighties, more quantitative statistical methods gave researchers more tools in conducting meta-analyses of previous studies. This allowed them to analyze and summarize data from a wide range of studies in a more quantitative manner. Trait theorists had more leeway to conduct more exhaustive leadership reviews using both qualitative and quantitative methods. (Kenny & Zaccaro, 1983). Lord, DeVader, and Alliger (1986).
In more current research, Yukl (2006) and Bass (1989, 1990) find that people utilizing the trait theory feel comfortable in their roles in such ways that it does not take much effort to accomplish their tasks and achieve their goals as the leader of a group. Reinhartz and Beach (2004) stated, “The trait view of leadership suggests that individuals become leaders because of the traits they possess” (p. 12). Other theorists support these views and list specific traits or characteristics for an effective leader.
Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) identified 6 leadership traits that are consistently associated with successful leadership. They are self-confidence, desire to lead high level of personal drive, analytical ability and judgment, knowledge of company/industry/technology and personal integrity Locke and House, Shane and Herold (1996) summarize their 8 common traits of a good leader as drive, honesty, integrity, leadership motivation, self-confidence, cognitive ability, creativity and flexibility.
There are several traits that overlap from one theorist to another such as integrity, drive and self-confidence. Reinhartz and Beach (2004) contend that the more traits a person possesses the more effective he/she will be as a leader. Green (2001) stated, the effectiveness of the leader is judged by how successful the organization is in reaching its goals. Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) stated,
Leaders are not like other people… they do need to have the ‘right stuff’ and this stuff is not equally present in all people. Leadership is a demanding, unrelenting job…and it would be a profound disservice to leaders to suggest that they are ordinary people. …In realm of leadership…the individual does matter. (p.58)
Leadership trait research has also focused on emotional intelligence. Goleman (1998) studied successful leaders and concluded that they have higher emotional intelligence as compared to less successful leaders especially in the following dimensions:
- Self-awareness or one’s knowledge of his own abilities to recognize emotions and reactions and their effect on other people.
- Self-regulation or one’s ability to control impulses or moods that may disrupt or disengage one from fulfilling goals set. It is also the skill in suspending judgment before coming up with a decision or carrying out an action
- Motivation or one’s initiative to work for own reasons that are not extrinsically driven.
- Empathy or the ability to understand the feelings of others and treating them non-judgmentally.
- Social Skill or adeptness in managing social relationships, building networks and the ability to find commonalities instead of differences in order to build rapport.
Zaccaro (2007) stated that while the trait theory has regained recognition, it has not been well developed and has retained some of the same attributes from early research. He specifically noted the persistent limitations to this theoretical construct. These include the following:
- It focused on a small set of individual characteristics such as Big Five personality traits, to the neglect of values, cognitive abilities, social skills, motives, expertise, and problem-solving.
- Not being able to consider patterns or how various attributes are related to each other.
- Not distinguishing between leader attributes that are not generally changeable over time and those that are shaped by, and bound to, situational influences
- Not being able to consider to account for behavioral diversity of leaders necessary for effective leadership.
One common criticism of the trait approach is that even after more than half a century, it has not come up with a definitive list of leadership traits. Since research keeps evolving and more new information emerge, the list of traits likewise seem to grow and several leadership traits that have come into acceptance into the theory may be ambiguous and difficult to measure. The changing criteria for leadership traits encourage subjective additions to the list and now become difficult to exclude due to the justifications of such traits to be considered for leadership. One example is reasoning that some traits are relative to the context of the situation of leadership. The kind of leadership task and the culture of the organization will expect certain leadership traits and behavior. De Hoogh & Den Hartog (2008) found that in Dutch non-profit organizations, top leaders showed lower personal power motivation and higher social responsibility motivation as compared to organizational leaders in other commercial for-profit organizations.
Also, the fact that most lists in the leadership trait approach refer to stereotypically masculine terms (e.g. masculinity was identified by Mann, 1959, as a leadership trait) which already pre-judges women to be less likely to be effective leaders. Eagly et al.’s (1995) review of 96 studies did not find any overall difference in the leadership performance between males and females. Some of these studies showed men did better in the military and outdoor leadership environments, however, in the business, education and government arena, women leaders did almost the same or even slightly better than men leaders.
However, despite all the realizations and criticisms raised about the Leadership Trait theories, it still remains to have considerable appeal. As an example, the UK government has spent a considerable amount into leadership initiatives in both public and private sectors because they believed the UK was left behind other powerful countries such as US, France, Germany, etc. in such leadership issues. The “Leadership Qualities Framework” was developed by the UK National Health Service based on several focus group discussions and 50 in-depth structured interviews with top leaders of organizations (Thomson & McHugh, 2009). It still does not change the view that the leadership qualities derived from such thorough research will be the standard measure for all leaders in all situations.
Behavior Approach. In response to the problems of the trait approach, research began to shift away from looking at the trait of leaders to the behaviors of successful leaders. More specifically, it was called leadership approach, which focuses on what leaders’ do and how they behave. This section will provide an overview of the three best known theorists of this approach in chronological order and three theories of leadership styles, the System 4 management Model and the Managerial Grid.
The first empirical attempt to contextualize the phenomenon of leadership emerged through the work of Lewin (1939). Lewin developed a leadership framework based his decision-making behavior. Lewin argued that there are three leadership styles: autocratic, also known as authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire. Lewin considers the democratic style to be the most effective.
The first leadership style described by Lewin (1939) is referred to as the autocratic or authoritarian. These leaders are externally motivated and will make decisions without consulting the team. Lewin (1939) claims that this may be appropriate if decisions are to be made in a short span of time, when not much input is needed and when it does not require team agreement in order to result in successful outcomes. Lewin identifies the leadership characteristics of an autocratic or authoritarian leader as one, who is concerned with tasks not relationships, makes decisions alone, expects respect and obedience, exercises power with coercion and is useful in crisis situations.
The second style of leadership described by Lewin (1939) is democratic or participative leadership. The leader directs the group in decision-making. Lewin contended that internal forces motivate leaders possessing these characteristics, to which leaders use participation and majority rule to get work done. The team is given the option to provide input before they come up with the final decision and the allowances for this vary from one leader to the other. This type of style is important whenever team agreement greatly matters. However, it can be a challenge to manage especially when team members have different ideas and points of view.. Lewin descriptively identify the behavior of the democratic leader as concerned with tasks not relationships, fosters communication that is open and two-way and creates a climate for collaboration.
The third type of leadership style described by Lewin (1939) is permissive or laissez-faire. Leaders of this category show no direction or facilitation. They are viewed as having no internal motivation and work alone. The leaders are laid back and do not interfere with the decisions usually arrived at by the team. This type of leadership may work only if it is established that the team is motivated and highly capable and motivated to fulfill the tasks for the organization without needing close monitoring or supervision. These leaders tend to have few policies and do not lead and tend to not be useful in a highly structured environment.
The leadership framework of Lewin (1939) generated commendations and disagreements, which challenged theorists to conceptualize frameworks that support the idea of Lewin. Likert developed four systems of management in the sixties that Hall (1972) described. This was borne out of a study that was conducted with highly productive supervisors and their team members. Done in In 1972, Hall described the four systems of management developed by Likert in the 1960s, which was created as a result of a study conducted with highly productive supervisors with their team members in an American Insurance Company. The four systems were designed to identify the relationships, involvements and roles between the management and team members within an industrial setting. These systems of management were then applied to educational settings. Hall (1972) explained that it was adapted to identify roles of school heads, pupils and educators in the academic setting. The four systems are identified as exploitive authoritative system (I), benevolent authoritative system (II), consultative system (III) and Participative system (IV). Hall (1972) and Miner (2002) describe each system as follows:
- Exploitive authoritative system (I) expects followers/subordinates to follow the guidelines of higher status followers. Fear is used for task completion.
- The Benevolent authoritative system (II) is comparable to the exploitative authoritative system in that it creates all decisions for those in higher positions at the top of the organization. However, positive incentives are used to motivate followers for their work rather than fear. The incentives are given to followers based on what the people in higher positions hear or want to believe.
- Consultative system (III) involves the participation of the followers in the decision making process and even rewards them for it. However, the management decides what ideas will be used and has the final word.
- Participative (group) system (IV) is focused on teamwork. Rewards for reaching organizational goals are established. Teams work collaboratively in the decision making process and feel at ease with expressing their ideas.
The four systems are management concepts since these systems are focusing on productivity, cost, and earnings (Brewer, 1968). The managers use loyalty, motivational practices and attitude to reach their goals. Brewer noted,
The four systems provide the starting place for a theory of management in which the variable included in the systems are conceptualized as casual variables which through their effect on intervening organization variable [loyalties, attitudes, motivations, etc.] affect the end variables of organizational achievement, as measured by such things as productivity, cost and earnings (p. 826).
However, Effrat (1968) states system IV is the best when combined with good management and achievable goals. This system shows followers’ higher motivation, improved production, loyalty which redound to more profit than the other three systems. (Effrat, 1968).
In 1985, Blake and Mouton designed a grid to analyze various kinds of leaders. It was based on the leaders’ positions on two axes; the “concern for people” axis and the “concern for task” axis. This concept uses behavioral approach to leadership effectiveness and was known as the Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid (1964. 1978). Similar to Lewin’s model, Blake and Mouton used the grid to identify five types of leaders namely: the team leader, the country club leader, the impoverished leader, the produce or perish leader and middle of the road leader (Blake & Mouton, 1985). These labels were self-explanatory and were used as the basis to understand each one’s leadership habits and how he adapts it to serve the needs of his team.
According to Blake and Mouton (1985), the Team Leader scores high on task and high on relationships and is considered ideal as a leader. He leads by positive example and works towards the productivity of his team by allowing them to contribute to the organization’s success. In effect, potentials are maximized in both individual and team levels. Motivation is high in teams with such leaders and become very productive. The Country Club Leader scores low on the area of task and high on the area of relationships and predominantly uses rewards in disciplining his team and in encouraging them to achieve goals. Since the country club leader can be too concerned in pleasing people, he would find it difficult to implement punitive measures on members who deserve it when they are inefficient in some tasks. This is because he does not want to risk jeopardizing relationships with his team.
However, the impoverished leader is low on the area of task and scores low on relationships with people as well, thereby indicating ineffectiveness. He used a “delegate and disappear” management style. Parallel to the Laissez-faire leader, the impoverished leader allows the team to do whatever it wants and does not show commitment to neither task accomplishment nor maintenance of harmonious relationships within the group (Blake & Mouton, 1985). The impoverished leader has no regard for improving systems that can get tasks done efficiently or establishing creative and satisfying work environments. The result is a place of disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony (Blake & Mouton, 1985)
Blake and Mouton (1985) regarded produce or perish leadership as being high on production and low on relationships with people. The leaders are also known to be authoritarian or compliant who consider followers as only means to an end. Blake and Mouton stated that this leader is driven to accomplish tasks regardless of how it affects his subordinates and there is little or no allowance for cooperation and collaboration. Followers’ needs are not prioritized and their comfort in their workplaces is usually neglected. As an autocratic leader, he complies to strict rules, policies and procedures. In cases of failure, he is likely to blame others but himself. He would rather focus on what went wrong in a situation than trying to find ways to improve or prevent it from happening again. As the autocratic leader described previously, perish leaders are intolerant of opposition to his ideas. Therefore, it is nearly impossible for subordinates to contribute and express their own thoughts and ideas to a group (Blake & Mouton, 1985).
Blake and Mouton (1985) described Middle-of-the-Road Leadership as scoring medium on production and medium on people skills. It reflects a balance of two competing concerns. It may at first appear to be an ideal compromise; however, Blake and Mouton argued that this category might contribute a problem. They asserted that when a leader yields to compromise, he releases himself from a part of each concern so that neither production nor people needs are met. Leaders who subscribe to this style are content with mediocrity and believe it is the most that people can expect.
Blake and Mouton (1985) recognized the Team Leader as the most successful type of leadership; however, team leaders also justify the value of the other types. There are certain situations, which may call for one of the others. For example, by playing the impoverished leader, the team realizes that they need to be more self-reliant as they could not rely on its leader. A country club leader is great for members whose self-esteem suffers because of the “feel-good” strategies this leader employs. A good leader would know how to discern which type of leadership he will use in particular situations in order to achieve the best results (Blake & Mouton, 1985).
Contingency and Situational leadership theories. Contingency theories rose in importance in the late 1960s and 1970s. A group of theorists explored the relationship between leadership styles and how followers responded to those styles. McCollum 1995 found that companies were failing and needed a change. Contee-Borders (2003) stated if business wanted to see success they would need to consider contingency/situational approaches to leadership. The more popular contingency theories are identified as follows: Fiedler’s contingency theory, the path-goal theory, the Vroom-Yetton-Jago decision making model of leadership and the situational leadership theory. This section will briefly describe each theory.
Fiedler and Garcia (1987) claim that the Fiedler contingency theory introduced in 1967 was the proponent in considering traits, behaviors and situations interplay to affect leadership. The researchers focused on identifying where leadership is applied and then tried to determine what was needed to be changed from situation to situation. Some looked at the steps leaders took in a great crisis. Others turned to the strategies leaders and followers employ to view each other in different situations like in the army, politics and corporations. The extreme view was that the situation determined just about everything. Thus, Fiedler pointed out, “the model is predicated on the assumption that the type of leadership behavior required for good group performance is contingent upon favorableness of the group-task situation for the leader” 9p. 126). However, Stone and Patterson (2006) contended that the Fiedler’s contingency model does not measure the leader’s effectiveness on how well the leader can adapt to a new situation. However, if one had “the ability to choose the right leader for the situation (though this theory does not identify who would be responsible for making this choice)” (p.5) the leader could be more effective.
House (1971) describes the four types of leadership that make up the Path-Goal Theory of leadership. He stated that the leader can affect the performance, satisfaction and motivation of a group by offering rewards for a good performance, identifying a particular plan of action and eliminating obstacles. In 1996, House explicated that the path-goal theory highlighted ‘leader behavirors that enhance subordinate empowerment and satisfaction and work unit and subordinate effectiveness” (Para. 2). Further, the theory identified four leadership behaviors. The first behavior is the directive leadership style that provides very explicit directions to ensure compliance to the organization rules and regulations and is focused more on the underachieving follower. However, the supportive leadership style shows more support for the experienced follower. The leader shows concern about the morale of the followers. On the other hand, on the participative leadership style, the leader uses the opinions and recommendations from the group in a consultative process while the achievement-oriented leadership style has high expectations for the organization and followers. The leader’s goal is to illuminate paths for subordinates to take so they know which way to go. Leaders remove any roadblocks that may prevent the whole team from moving forward and increase the rewards as they move along the path. As such, goals are set by the leaders demonstrating the confidence they have in the followers to face the new challenges and meet the high level of performance. This theory holds many implications for the effective administrator (House, 1971). For instance, Green (2005) stated,
Assessing the ability of the faculty and staff, understanding individual personalities, and identifying factors in the environment that influence the transformation process of the school can prove to be of considerable benefit to the school leader in achieving established goals. (p.24)
Meantime, Vroom and Yetton (1973) together developed the Vroom-Yetton Expectancy Model of Leadership and later revised by Vroom and Jago in 1988. This n. an event that might not occurate model offers suggestions that leaders may opt to use in deciding specific situation by focusing on the degree of participation by the follower or subordinate. Yukl (1989) stated, “A basic assumption of the model is that participation increases decision acceptance if it is not already high. Also, the more influence followers have, the more they will be motivated to implement a decision” (p.113). Two important criteria are used in reaching the decision rule. First, the leader has to determine which is more important, decision acceptance or decision quality. Decision acceptance, indicates the level of commitment the follower is willing to take to implement a decision effectively. Selecting the best alternative is known as decision quality.
The Vroom-Yetton (1973) model contended that the effectiveness of a decision depends on one of the five different decision procedures. The autocratic decision procedure has two choices. First the leader can take the known information and then make a decision alone. Second, the leader gathers information from the followers and decides alone. In both situations, the leader is making the decision. In the third and fourth decision procedure, the leader still makes a decision on his/her own, but listens to the followers’ ideas either as individuals or in a group setting. The group based decision procedure is when the leader shares problems with the group and seeks for a consensus agreement (Yukl, 1989).
In 1988, Vroom and Jago revised this model. However, the new model did not state what actions a leader should take, but identified actions a leader should not take. This model is very complex and does not address the skills needed by the leader to make group decisions when facing a complicated problem.
Finally, Hersey and Blanchard (1977) theory of Situational Leadership provides a contextual approach to understanding leadership based on the situation of a certain leader. Hersey and Blanchard theory had been influential in the field of management and leadership since it suggested different leadership styles across different situations. Inspired by the work of Fiedler (1967) contingency factors, Hersey and Blanchard added the level of maturity as a variable. Hersey and Blanchard contend that there is a relationship between effective leadership styles and maturity levels of the followers. The authors identified job maturity as the extent to which a follower demonstrates the ability to perform a task and motivational level was the willingness of the follower to accept responsibility for its completion.
The definition of maturity has earlier articulated in the work of Hersey and Blanchard (1977) where the authors defined leader’s effectiveness based on the leader’s behavior and the follower’s maturity level. Hersey and Blanchard identified task behavior and relationship behavior as two variables in their leadership effectiveness model. Task behavior is when the leader tells a follower directly what they are doing, how to do it and when to complete it. The relationship behavior is when the leader acts as a support and guides the followers behaviors. Directing, coaching, supporting and delegating are the four leadership styles that may be used by a leader depending on the situation and the relationship between the leader and the follower (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977).
In Hersey and Blanchard (1977) model, directing has been defined as a one-way communication of which the leader provides clear instructions and specific direction, which is best matched with a low follower readiness level. Coaching, on the other hand, is a two-way communication to which the leader helps build confidence and motivation to his subordinates, indicating what needs to be done, seeking ideas, and suggestions from the follower with a moderate follower readiness level. Moreover, supporting emphases on the shared decision making of leaders and followers about the accomplishment of tasks, leave task decisions to followers. These are leaders whose followers are ready to accomplish a particular task and both leaders and followers are both competent and motivated to take full responsibility. Further, Hersey and Blanchard contended that while leaders in delegating are still involved -in decision-making and monitoring, the individual or group received the process and responsibility initiated by the leader (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977).
Further research and refinement in the theory during the last 30 years or so have consolidated these characteristics in to what are called the ‘Big Five Personality Factors’ represented in the works of McCrae & Costa (1987) and Goldberg (1990). These Big Five factors are: Neuroticism, (the presence of the emotions of anxiety, vulnerability and hostility), Extraversion (the ability to be sociable enough to strike conversations, communicate freely without inhibitions, assertiveness and over all spread of positive vibes), Openness (the ability to lend a listening ear and be considerate to new ideas, to be well informed and versed with new developments, and a sense of general curiosity that leads to investigation and theorising), Agreeableness (the ability to accept others’ views and opinions, garner trust, evolve consensus), and finally Conscientiousness (the ability to make fair judgements, be thorough, dependable and firmly decisive). In subsequent research by Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt (2002) on the relationship of the big five factors and the practice of leadership, it was concluded that having these personality traits was positively correlated to being an effective leader. The ‘Traits’ approach creates a divorce between leadership and circumstances, it tries to circumvent the idea that a person with some or many or even all of these characteristics could be an effective leader because of the presence of congenial circumstances and supporting followers, and that if such circumstances were altered, then the effectiveness of such a leader could be jeopardized (as suggested in situational leadership).
Contemporary school leadership
More recent theories on leadership take from the established theories from the past and enhanced it to fit the present context. Many leadership models have been formulated, and are still being fine-tuned. Kouzes and Posner (2007) are examples of theorists who are vigilant in enhancing their own constructs of leadership and most recently, have come up with the Five Leadership Practices. According to Kouzes and Posner (2007), people seek several traits in a leader they can follow willingly. Their research has yielded evidence that when effective leaders followed these five basic practices, they become successful in achieving the results they want from their followers. The leaders said they challenged, inspired, enabled, modeled and encouraged their followers, as compliance to the five practices of exemplary leaders.
Leaders constantly challenge the established process and improve on the areas in the process that need it. They never cease in searching for opportunities which challenge them to change, grow and reach greater heights. Hence, they are willing to take risks and learn from whatever mistakes they fall upon (Kouzes and Posner, 2007). They are not afraid of change and are willing to get out of their comfort zones to choose the best options.
Leaders inspire their followers with a shared vision. They communicate their vision well enough for their followers to understand clearly, and together, they see an uplifting and ennobling future (Kouzes and Posner, 2007). Leaders enlist more people to share such a vision by appealing to their values, interests, hopes and dreams (Five Practices of the Exemplary Leader, n.d.)
Leaders are also enablers. They encourage their people to be independent with the provision of tools and methods for problem-solving. Leaders foster collaboration among their members (Kouzes and Posner, 2007). When the followers are trusted to fulfill tasks delegated to them, they feel confident and capable to do more for the team.
Leaders have to be good models, most especially when the going gets tough. They should exhibit an attitude and behavior of positivism that their followers can emulate. Leaders set examples that are consistent with their own values. They are not afraid to stand for their beliefs. To encourage their followers, they create opportunities for their followers to experience small wins with the hopes of eventually gaining bigger ones (Kouzes and Posner, 2007).
Finally, leaders recognize individual contributions and celebrate team accomplishments (Kouzes and Posner, 2007). Such positive response further motivates others to work even harder.
Another model of leadership established recently is Fullan’s Components of Leadership. Fullan (2004) proposed that to be an effective and successful leader, one should have “moral purpose, an understanding of change, adeptness in building relationships, creation and sharing of knowledge, and ability to see coherence in complexity” (p. 20). These five components of leadership altogether ignite energy, hope and enthusiasm in the whole institution, and invite members of the organization to pledge their commitment to the leaders’ purpose. In effect, more good things happen for the institution, and bad things are lessened if not prevented.
A leader with moral purpose creates a positive difference in the lives of the people and in society in general. This is the key element in the sustainability of organizations. Anyone who works for an organization that makes them feel that their potentials are expanded and their individual goals are achieved will be likely to stay on. Moral purpose infuses an organization with passion and purpose since workers become eager to know the enabling purpose of their work (Fullan, 2004).
However, in a culture of change, even if one is motivated by moral purpose, a leader can still lose his way if he does not have an adequate understanding of change. “Moral purpose without an understanding of change will lead to moral martyrdom” (Fullan, 2004, p. 26) That is why a combination of a commitment to moral purpose and a healthy respect for the complexities of change would indeed help a leader to be more successful. Such would unearth even deeper moral purpose.
Fullan’s third component of successful leadership is an ability to establish harmonious relationships with people who are vastly different from themselves.
Clark (2008) discusses a study reported by Lamb and McKee (2004) that concludes that the most important keys to effective leadership are trust and confidence as well as effective communication. These employees are assured that they are in good hands and that there are safely on a journey aboard a tight ship run by an efficient captain. Such trust and confidence are won with effective communication prevalent in the organization. This is shown in three critical areas. One is in the area of helping employees understand the organization’s overall strategies. Another is in helping employees understand how they can contribute in meeting the organizational goals and objectives. The last area where effective communication must take place is in sharing information with employees how their group is performing in relation to the organizational objectives.
The component of creating and sharing knowledge inside and outside the organization should be a commitment true leaders uphold. This will be possible in an atmosphere where harmonious relationships exist since using information to gain knowledge is a socially motivated process. People will not voluntarily share knowledge unless they are obliged to do so, or feel some moral commitment to do so. Leaders become conduits of knowledge, as they generate and increase it inside and outside the organization. Also, turning information to knowledge entails the establishment of good relationships since it is a very social process (Fullan, 2004).
Finally, as a leader being in charge of possibly chaotic change processes, he must be able to stand being in unfamiliar grounds to keep the creative juices flowing in his organization. Eventually, they seek coherence in chaos. “All of this complexity keeps people at the edge of chaos. It is important to be at that edge because that is where creativity resides, but anarchy lurks there too” (Fullan, 2004, p.5).
A controversial view of contemporary leadership is by French, Simpson & Harvey (2001). A leader is stereotypically known to possess positive qualities and capabilities. However, in a research reported by French, Simpson and Harvey (2001), a good leader is also equipped with ‘negative capability’. “The underpinning image of leadership is based on knowing and is manifested through activity, work and achievement. There is, however, another dimension of leadership, based on not knowing, on not doing, on being-done-to, and on being no longer in control of one’s own situation.” (French, Simpson & Harvey, 2001). This implies that a leader should be humble enough to admit when one doesn’t really know instead of putting up a façade of being all-knowing. This peculiarly human capacity to live with and tolerate ambiguity, of being content with half knowledge is quite a refreshing concept. “It implies the capacity to engage in a non-defensive way with change, without being overwhelmed by the ever-present pressure merely to react. It also indicates empathy and even a certain flexibility of character, the ability ‘to tolerate a loss of self and a loss of rationality by trusting in the capacity to recreate oneself in another character or another environment’ (Hutter, 1982, p.305).
Specific to school leadership, According to Findley and Findley, cited in Green (2005, p. 189) “If schools are to be effective ones, it will be because of the instructional leadership of the principal”
Harris (2003) delved into teachers’ perceptions on leadership and management. The findings of his survey distinguished the two concepts this way: “Leadership is giving the school direction, having an overview, setting standards and making tough decisions” while “management is concerned with setting up and managing systems” (p.4). One teacher summarized the majority’s perception as thus: “A good leader has vision whereas a good manager has organization for the establishment” (p.4). Another teacher eloquently said, “A headteacher is both a leader and a manager. Leadership is about development, vision and growth. Management is about attending to the status quo and ensuring that systems work” (p.4).
Mulford (2004) writes about school leadership for student learning. He conducted a qualitative research which focused on how leadership, school practices and student outcomes provides enlightening insights on how such factors affect the school’s attainment of its goals, specifically, student-learning. It identified factors essential for successful school reform, namely: distributed leadership, development and learning, context, and a broader understanding of student outcomes (Mulford, 2004). As the name implies, distributed leadership does not centralize decision-making powers on the head of the school but engages the inputs of teachers and the students. This promotes motivation for all to participate in the process, because it acknowledges that everyone is a stakeholder in the institution. Once a collaboration of decision-making is successful, then the whole school can see one vision for the school and agree on implementing its mission towards that vision. Then, everyone becomes open to more learning, thus, development takes place. Decisions made should not forget to consider the context from where the teachers and students are coming from. It should be customized to the institutional members’ backgrounds and culture. Lastly, effective educational reform should include not only academic excellence in the students but also development of their self-confidence (Mulford, 2004).
Leithwood & Riehl (2003) echo what the others have already established about school leadership. What resonated in their report are the words vision, direction, collaboration, empowerment, challenges and opportunities, development,. A good leader has a clear vision of where he is going and sets directions to others towards that vision. He collaborates with other people on ways and means to reach their goals and not focus the authority on himself. In doing so, he empowers them to be confident in their abilities and motivates them to welcome challenges and opportunities. Because of his positive influence, he gains the respect of everyone to follow his lead while pursuing a common mission for the growth and development of the school.
Cotton (2003) reviewed the research literature from the 70’s and 80’s and concluded that a strong instructional leader is essential to the success of students. From her research she identified 26 essential traits and behaviors that are common among successful instructional leaders. Cotton categorizes these traits into five areas; establishing a clear focus on student learning, interactions and relationships, school culture; instruction and accountability.
Hargreaves and Fink (2006) have seven principles for sustainable leadership that are characterized by depth, length, breadth, justice, diversity, resourcefulness and conservation. From the foregoing discussion on leadership and the state of the quality of education in schools, it can be said that there is a great need for change in the educational system in schools, and this is to be led by an effective change agent. Fullan (1995) believes that educators themselves are change agents. Such change agents must have or develop personal vision-building, inquiry skills, mastery and collaboration. Like everything else, having purpose and vision gives an individual meaning and motivation to work towards his goals. A personal purpose comes form within the person and exists independent of any group or organization he joins. Fullan expects educators to pursue moral purpose both as an individual and as a team. He states, “Especially in moral occupations like teaching, the more one takes the risk to express personal purpose, the more kindred spirits one will find” (1995, p. 14). Personal purpose should have a social dimension such as working effectively with others and developing better citizens out of students that connects to social betterment in society. Fullan also believes that personal purpose is key to organizational change.
The second strand of literature reviews school reform from three perspectives. First, a historical view of educational reform over time is identified. This section focuses on early legislations for school reform, No Child Left Behind legislation and the history and development of the Spotlight School Program in the State of Illinois. The Spotlight School program developed as a response by the State of Illinois educational officials in response to No Child Left Behind mandates. The section continues to describe the literature on effective schools and characteristics of leaders that facilitate change in high poverty, high performing schools. Finally, the researcher identifies theories on building a capacity for change in schools and sustaining these changes. The chapter concludes with a brief description of an overview of the contribution this study makes to the field of school leadership and school reform.
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