Educational Leadership and Style:
Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. - Warren Benniss, Ph.D. "On Becoming a Leader"
Many, many studies have been completed on the development of leadership, especially in business and education. However there really are only three basic areas of educational leadership:
There are several key people who have helped develop the concepts of educational leadership as they are known today. The primary researchers are:
As one looks at the available information on leadership the following core ideas must be emphasized.
Forces for Leadership
The five skill areas in the Forces of Leadership Model provides us with a way of assessing management and leadership skills. They also provide a forum for understanding the evolution of management.
The management of an organization should provide the physical, human, and financial resources and provide basic structure for the operation of the organization. Frederick Taylor placed emphasis on the structural functions of the organization
From the administrator's point of view, the provision of basic resources is frequently taken for granted. If these technical aspects of the organization are neglected, the management is likely to receive negative criticism. In contrast to real or perceived neglect, school administrators may devote undue attention to this aspect of their jobs.
In contrast to the stark logistics of technical leadership, all organizations need personal warmth and interactions to provide the needed cohesiveness. Many programs lack direction in interpersonal skills. The classroom highlights the need for positive interactions in a diverse group of people. The human leader provides support and encouragement and helps to empower others with the skills they may need to attain high levels of performance. The human leader tends to build loyalty in the group in which they work.
A unique aspect of management and leadership in the education field is the instructional leadership that must be performed. An in-depth understanding and proficiency is beneficial in curriculum instruction, supervision and staff development. Attention and development in these areas can lead to educational excellence. Teachers must also demonstrate educational leadership if they are to provide the quality of education that is needed for high standards of student learning.
Among other things, the leader convenes activities and watches over the progress of the group or organization. Symbolic leadership will occupy a large portion of a superintendent's time but is also a real part of the principal's and teacher's work. Symbolic leadership requires the use of self and personal influence to accomplish a specific goal. The leader seeks to motivate others to levels above their vested self interests. The leader delivers the vision and fosters progressive change. The leader is to give the followers a "cause" and an understanding of what they are doing.
The cultural leader seeks to define, strengthen, and articulate those enduring values and beliefs that identifies the group. Perhaps one of the most important elements of classroom leadership is that of stall socialization or empowerment. Cultural leaders tend to reproduce themselves in the sense that other staff are prepared to take over their jobs. This preparation provides organizational stability that is essential for change efforts and quality education.
Hersey & Blanchard
Four Leadership Styles
School administrators should consider situational leadership styles systematically. They will need to decide under what circumstances each is appropriate. Some methods school administrators can apply the four leadership styles following.
Giving specific instructions and supervising staff members closely. This leadership style is primarily for first-year teachers who need a lot of instruction and supervision. This style also calls for caution and sensitivity so as to not stifle growth or foster over-dependence. This is a high-task, low-relationship style, also useful for persons with lower ability or motivation.
Explaining decisions and soliciting suggestions from followers but continuing to direct tasks. This leadership style works especially well with those non-tenured teachers, who may be in their second or third year on the the job. They are gaining confidence and competence, but they are still getting their feet on the ground. This is a high-task, high relationship style. This style may be effective with those who have sufficient motivation but who lack skill development or ability.
Making decisions together with staff members and supporting their efforts toward performing tasks. This leadership style works well with highly creative teachers. Applying this style can vary in form from supporting teachers when they come up with excellent ideas to helping them to bring those ideas to fruition. This is a low-task, high relationship style of leadership. Use this style with those who have ability but are lower in motivation.
Turning over decisions and responsibility for implementing those decisions to staff members. This leadership style works with people who, in a positive fashion, go above and beyond their instructions. These are those who don't just mimic their instruction. They display an understanding of the instruction by making application in and to unique or original situations. This style typically is low-task and low relationship and is effective for those who are highly motivated and who display high ability.
REFLECTIONS ON LEADERSHIP STYLES YOU HAVE OBSERVED
Work through these questions while at the same time reflecting on a leader (superintendent, principal, or teacher) that you have admired.
After you finish, work through these same questions while reflecting on a leader (superintendent, principal or teacher) whom you did not admire and thought was ineffective.
Please note that this checklist has the benefits and limits of all checklists. It is simply designed to help one reflect on leadership styles and best practices. Hopefully it will stimulate thinking about what leadership means.
|Ways of leading and managing||Always||Frequently||Sometimes||Never|
|1. Did we work together to articulate a shared purpose and educational vision focused on learning?|
|2. Did this leader protect the vision and make it visible to others?|
|3. Did we take collective responsibility for school practices and outcomes?|
|4. Did this leader emphasize power through people rather than power over people?|
|5. Was authority based more on professional knowledge and competence than on position and rules?|
|6. Did this leader facilitate, guide and coach others to adopt practices that advanced students performance?|
|7. Did this leader communicate their passion for learning by challenging ineffective practices?|
|8. Were discussion and inquiry common and accepted practices in our school/classroom?|
|9. Was information share and decision made together?|
|10. Were problems solved collaboratively?|
|11. Was there openness to multiple approaches and solutions rather than reliance on single answers and past practices?|
|12. Did this leader try to gain many points of view before solving important problems?|
|13. Was decision making consensual and inclusive as opposed to top-down and non-participatory?|
|14. Did this leaders accept conflict as "normal" and use it as a stimulus for change, or was it viewed as "bad" and something simply to be controlled?|
|15. Were roles in the workplace flexible and interdependent or were they rigid and hierarchial?|
|16. Were teams used to plan and implement school improvement?|
|17. Did the leader create an environment that was safe, supportive, and conducive to learning?|
|18. Was widespread participation of stakeholders (parents, community members, students, teachers) encouraged?|
|19. Were parents empowered to participate in decisions about the school?|
|20. Was communication open and fluid as opposed to regulated by traditional chains of command?|