LEADERSHIP STYLES AND SCHOOL PERFOMANCE
By Erasto Kano
This paper endeavors to explain head teachers’ leadership styles and students’ academic achievement by looking into the role of the head teachers in promoting academic performance. The paper discusses the meaning of leadership, the importance of leadership, characteristics of leaders, characteristics of high-performing schools and leadership theories .Furthermore, the paper gives details about traits and skills associated with effective leadership, dimensions of leadership practices and activities linked to student outcome, leadership styles, the relationship between leadership styles and academic achievement and recommendations.
Leadership is the most talked and written about subject in various disciplines such as History, Sociology, Psychology, Religion and Educational Management (Kandula, 2007). Organization whether globalized or local needs leadership. Leadership is fundamental to the organizational survival and strategic imperative to its success. In educational institutions, the head teachers’ role is to promote academic performance. The success or failure of what is done in the school is attributed to the head teacher (Nasongo & Lydiah, 2009). The head teacher is the pivot around which many aspects of the school revolve, being the person in charge of every detail of running the school. Many schools lack the necessary performance requirements, not only because of inadequate funds or even poor facilities, but also as a result of poor leadership (Nsubuga, 2009). That’s why this paper discusses leadership styles and school performance because educational leaders have an enormous responsibility to larry on the vision of the school.
Meaning of leadership
The term leadership has been defined by different scholars in different perspectives. According to Armstrong (2004), leadership refers to the influence, power and the legitimate authority acquired by a leader to be able to effectively transform the organization through the direction of the human resources that are the most important organizational asset, leading to the achievement of desired goals. This can be done through the articulation of the vision and mission of the organization at every moment, and influence the staff to define their power to share this vision. Gupta (2008), define leadership as the process of influencing the behaviour of others towards the accomplishment of goals in a given situation. Furthermore, leadership refers to the process of social influence in which one person and enlists the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of common task (Hoy & Miskel, 2008). The leadership incorporates the accomplishment of the task, which is the organization requirement and the satisfaction of employees which is the human resource requirement (Okumbe, 1998).
The term performance as used in this paper refers to both behaviors and results, and adjusting organizational behaviors and actions of work to achieve results or outcomes (Armstrong, 2004). Behaviors are outcomes in their own right and reactions to the product of mental and physical effort applied to tasks. In school environments therefore, performance should not only be defined in terms of test scores, examination results, students’ ability to socially apply what is learnt, and the rate at which students move on to higher institutions of learning, but should consider the achievements of the school in other areas like equipping the learners with the requisite skills for survival (Nsubuga).
Importance of Leadership
Leadership is an important component in guiding the teaching-learning process (Afshari, 2008). It is necessary for preparing today’s students with relevant knowledge and skills in today’s society to became a productive citizen of the 21st century. According to Gupta (2008) there are various important functions performed by leaders in organizations. The importances of leadership in education include but not limited to: guiding people, developing teamwork, maintaining discipline, building morale and representing the group. Therefore, leadership is a cohesive force which holds the group intact, the disciplinary power that keeps the group working, the electric current that energizes human actions, the insight that converts despair into hope. In fact there is no substitute for effective leadership (Gupta, 2008).
Characteristics of high-performing schools
Effective school leadership is one component often found in high-performing schools (Starcher, 2006). Principals charged with leading schools are judged by various indicators, including student performance on standardized exams, student enrollment in advanced placement courses, and the attendance and graduation rates of students (ibid).
Starcher, in his review of high-performing schools, found that such schools often demonstrate five or more of the following characteristics: clear and shared focus, high standards and expectations for all students, effective school leadership, high levels of collaboration and communication, curriculum, instruction and assessment aligned with standards, frequent monitoring of learning and teaching, focused professional development, supportive learning environment, and high levels of family and community involvement. Additionally, Starcher (2006) noted that such characteristics were evidenced in high performing schools that serviced a high percentage of students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.
Kaplan et al. (2005) as cited in Starcher (2006), noted characteristics of most low performing schools which include high teacher turnover, a high percentage of impoverished children and a less than positive school culture. In their study of principals
The head teachers’ role is to promote academic performance. The success of what is done in the school is attributed to the head teacher. He or she is the pivot around which many aspects of the school revolve, being the person in charge of every detail of running the school, be it academic or administrative. Schools can make a difference to student achievement and the headteachers’ leadership is one factor determining that success. It is therefore important that the performance of a school is appraised against the performance of the person who leads it (Kandula, 2007).
Therefore, from these viewpoints, the commitment of schools leaders is vital in organizational skills that influence academic achievement.
Traits and skills associated with effective leadership
According Hoy and Miskel (2008), there are three major traits and skills associated with effective leadership. These are personality traits, motivational traits and skills. Personality traits are relatively stable dispositions to behave in a particular way. The list and of personality factors associated with effective leadership include: self-confidence, stress tolerance, emotional maturity, integrity and extroversion. Motivation is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual to initiate work-related behaviour and to determine its form directing intensity and duration. There are five motivational traits which are critical for leaders; task and interpersonal needs, achievement orientation, power needs, expectation and self-efficacy. Skill is an important component of educational leadership. This involves the skill to complete a job. There are three important categories of skills associated with leader effectiveness. These are technical, interpersonal and conceptual or cognitive skill. On top of that Pettinger, R. (2001), add some traits and characteristics of leadership. These include: inspirations, communication, decision making, commitment, quality, sets of values, positive attitude and mutuality and dependency.