26 SES 11 B, Working In Schools Facing Adversity And Schools In Underserved Communities
Although leadership was viewed as a simple, predictable and uncomplicated construct a century ago, when examined in detail, it was discovered that the leadership has many properties and many forms (Van Fleet & Yukl, 1989; as cited in Komives, Lucas, McMahon, 1998). Throughout the history, many leadership theories appeared and different approaches were adopted to categorize leadership theories. Great man, trait, behavioral, situational contingency, influence, reciprocal leadership approaches, and chaos theories are used as classification schema for leadership theories (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, 1998).
Cuban (1988) identified instructional, political and managerial roles of principals and concluded that an effective school leader must successfully balance these roles. Research findings related to successful schools indicated a clear impact of leadership traits of school principals on school success (Sisman, 2010). According to Haberman (2003), in order to be effective in their leadership roles, school principals must create a common vision, build effective teams to implement that vision and engender commitment to task. Lezotte (2001) underlines that principals in effective schools act as instructional leaders and effectively and persistently communicates the mission of the school to staff, students and parents. Besides, school administrators are responsible and play a vital role in implementation of the school’s curriculum, the role of the principal, as the articulator of the mission of the school is crucial to the overall effectiveness of the school. In order to be able to realize such different roles effectively, principals must be leaders and being a leader requires first being perceived as a leader. An effective principal is thought to be a necessary precondition for an effective school (Marzano et al., 2004). Effective leadership perceptions of teachers is important in creating a positive school climate as well (Aypay et.al., 2012). The purpose of this study is to reveal implicit leadership theories of teachers on principal leadership behaviors based on teacher perceptions.
Instructional Leadership and Implicit Leadership
Implicit leadership theories require new prototypes, behavior, and expectations. They emphasize organized expectations of followers. If met successfully, these expectations may lead to better leadership with a greater influence. These theories focus on traits, behaviors and events. “Leadership in the eyes of beholder” means taking a situational contingency approach to leadership (Kenney, Blascovih & Shaver, 1994, p. 410).
Group members need to perceive or accept a person as a leader (Lord & Maher, 1991). Implicit leadership theories are internalized leadership behaviors (Martin & Epitropaki, 2001). People have tendency to approve individuals as leaders whose characteristics fit into the mental model they have created themselves to define a leader (Tabak, Kiziloglu & Polat, 2010). Cognitive structures containing the traits and behaviors of leaders are defined as implicit leadership theories (Schyns & Schilling, 2011).
Offermann et al. (1994) conducted an extensive research on implicit leadership theories; their research pointed out that individuals portray a leader as a model or image. In their research, they have concluded eight distinct traits of leaders were sensitivity, dedication, tyranny, charisma, attractiveness, masculinity, intelligence, and strength. Another line research on perceived leadership draws attention on cultural differences (Lim, 2012). ‘The Globe Project,’ point out cultural differences in leadership perceptions (House et al., 2002). They have concluded that leaders in Turkey are; decisive, visionary, team integrator, collaborative, team oriented, inspirational, paternalistic, action oriented, assertive, integrity, nonprocedural, diplomatic, equanimity, administratively competent, self-confident and outlier (Kabasakal & Bodur, 2007). In another extensive research on the concept of ‘leadership’ in Turkey, Toduk Akis (2004) argues that as the traditionalism increases, authoritarian leaders shine out. Turkey accepted in the traditional side of the scale despite the rapid modernization in the preceding 30 years.
The study design was the basic interpretive design (Merriam, 2013) and data collected via an open-ended form in order to determine the traits and behaviors associated with the leader concept by teachers. Participants were 64 teachers (42 female, 22 male) currently serving in various schools in the Eskisehir province of Turkey. On average 2.9 teachers participated from each schools and the mean age was 36.6 (sd= 7.8, min.= 24, max.= 55). Subject areas of the participant teachers were quite diverse: 20 classroom teachers (31%), 9 foreign languages teachers (14%), 6 social sciences teachers (9%), and 29 teachers of various subjects. The data collection tool included, teachers were asked to think a school administrator, who they consider as a leader, working with or have worked with or they just know about and name effective and ineffective behavior characteristics of that leader, as they perceive. Confidentiality w. In addition to leaders effective and ineffective behaviors, teachers provided information about their gender, age, subject matter and the name of the school they are currently working in. First, data collected were transferred to a computer and two graduate students along with the researchers categorized the statements. An orderly and step-by-step procedure was carried out in analyses and categorization of the statements (Mayring, 2000). During first review of the statements, researchers eliminated the statements that are neither pointing out to an effective nor ineffective behaviors or traits of school administrators. The researchers only took those statements indicating either an effective or an ineffective trait, behavior, and attitude or practice into account as valid statements and then proceed to further process for coding. In the second review of the statements, researchers coded effective and ineffective behaviors or traits with a single word or few words. Afterwards, these words or word groups were included in an emerging category or group. After researchers and graduate students coded independently half of the statements, they re-examined the data set in a meeting to reach a consensus. Once they reached consensus, they repeated the same procedure for the next half of the data set. Five statements were not clear, researchers were unable to reach an agreement and they were not included in categorization. Finally, after the coding and categorization processes were completed, researchers re-examined all the statements, categories and sub-categories to discover any doubt or disagreement.
Our research aimed to identify effective and ineffective school leadership traits and behaviors. The most striking result to emerge from the data was that communication skills were the most frequently addressed trait of effective leaders while poor communication skills was the most frequently addressed ineffective trait ascribed to school leaders. The reason for that school leadership is considered as a middle leadership in the hierarchy. It requires a high level of competence in human relations. Supporting school administrators in improving communication skills would contribute to effective leadership in schools. Another frequently addressed effective trait was being an expert in the position, knowledgeable and experienced. School administrators should receive targeted and expectations based in pre-service and in-service-training which would help them improve their skills in their leadership roles. These traits may also be important in improving teacher motivation. Since these two categories received highest attention from both effective and ineffective sides, areas to be concentrated for effective school leadership are more obvious. The analysis did not show any reference to technological skills of school principals. This result was surprising since there is a considerable body of literature on the technology use of school leaders. The only trait emerged as innovative in this study. However, innovation may or may not be included as technological. Leadership is an elusive phenomenon. More comprehensive studies exploring a variety of theoretical lenses utilizing different methodologies are needed to find out teacher/follower perceptions of leadership. Implicit leadership theory may provide a different set of skills that followers may need. Previous research results indicated that a general set of traits and behaviors had mixed results. Instead of using more general categories, selection and training school leaders may be based more on the teachers’ and other followers’ expectations in the Turkish context.
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