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Research Paper on the Best Leadership Style in the South-east Hillingdon

6 pages
1536 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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This essay seeks to consider the importance to establish a secure leadership style that reflects the needs of the education institution within a particular context in the south-east Hillingdon and consequently the implications for academic professionalism. It explores and interrogates how the context of a particular area in Hillingdon can influence the type of leadership and the conditions in which educational leaders are affected. It also discusses in some detail the interrelation between management and leadership and in particular the notion of HOW to make distributive leadership happen in a meaningful way. Distributive leadership is well-known and firmly established in the minds of leaders, but it tends to be more theoretical rather than practical application. While theory is undoubtedly crucial as it can frame, explain and predict, it is also essential that theory connect, in some way, to practice and this is shown in this essay. This essay proposes to make a direct connection between theory and practice. It argues that distributive leadership, not just a robust framework, but it is also a leadership approach that, if properly constructed and enacted well, can result in better learner outcome. It, however, propose that distributive leadership could only work under the right conditions to make a positive influence on an educational institution to change and improve.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Background of the Study

Increasing workloads mean that Heads have to adapt to leadership styles that address these constant changes. The reality of the school day, with its constant interruptions, can put a principal under considerable stress. Typically, a principal will adopt a particular leadership style which emphasises specific priorities and limits others. The style that will be embraced is his or her coping mechanism (Marsh, 2004, p.95). As head of the department, it was essential to use a distributive leadership style as it focuses on the interactions, rather than the actions, of those in formal and informal leadership roles. It is primarily concerned with leadership practice and how leadership influences organisational and instructional improvement (Spillane, 2006).

In The Tannenbaum-Schmidt Continuum of Behaviour (Hersey, Blanchard, and Johnson, 1996, p.122) at one extreme is the autocratic leader who dictates to a staff that has to abide by his/her work. The other end comprises of a collaborative leader, very democratic in style, sharing a good proportion of power and information with the members of staff. The staff is treated as colleagues, and they play an essential role in decision-making. In between are styles where the leaders of educational institutions share different degrees of power, collegiality, consultation, and support with staff. Bearing in mind the limitations that leaders are bound to face in trying to motivate themselves, and their staff, perhaps the most important task would be to acknowledge the particular context within which motivation can flourish.

Justification of the Study

The diverse-based view of leadership requires stopping our habitual ways of thinking about leadership and leadership practice. The capacity to suspend established ways of seeing is essential for all important scientific discoveries. The shift requires what Senge et al. (2005, p.84) termed as sensing an emerging future,' where old frameworks are not imposed on new realities. As Youngs (2007, p.1) pointed out, issues of popularisation means that distributed forms of leadership may end up being yet another fad.' The sentiment could be undoubtedly right, but it is important to stand back and take critical, informed and empirically based look at distributed leadership to determine whether this is worth pursuing.

On the other hand, if distributed leadership is found to be little more than just delegation, then it is worth exploring and adopted in the management of the educational institution. If it has the potential to broaden leaders understanding of educational institution leadership and allows them to suspend and possibly relinquish their conventional and dominant views of leadership, then it is worth delving into it and ignite change. As Youngs (2007, p.1) pointed out, the latter will require courage as the educational institution will need different structures that support alternative forms of leadership that is more flexible. On the other side of the coin, distributive leadership style has more recently been pivotal to a lot of educational institutions as it is innovative. As an emerging form of leadership practice in schools, there is need to examine the perspectives of theory, practice, and empirical evidence that explores whether distributive leadership has the potential to improve learning at the educational institution and individual level.

1.3 Objectives and Research Questions

The primary research question that this essay will try to explore is: what are essential characteristics that make the educational institution system more effective than others in south-east Hillingdon? This essay will address the following questions:

What form of leadership is required to produce positive results within a department?

What are we doing well in our school each year to succeed in achieving better results?

1.4 Significance of the Study

Naturally, it would be impossible for any research essay to explore and find definitive answers to these questions. It is hoped that a small-scale, quality and grounded study like this would provide some enlightenment and some indicative findings that would be valuable both to the field of educational institutions and to other researchers who might wish to delve further into this intriguing field of distributive leadership in other educational institutions and regions. This essay aims to establish and identify the characteristics that make our educational institution improve year after year, against all the most terrible odds. Despite this reality check, improvement is an expectation placed on the shoulder of those leading departments and ultimately educational institution (Carnegie, Levine, and Crom, 1995).


Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Definitions of Leadership

A coherent and comprehensive definition of educational leadership seems to be lacking (Ramsdale, 2000) in organisational literature. Liethwood and Duke (1999) said that a definition of leadership needs to be comprehensive and closely related to the educational institutions in context. The method has to have depth and breadth of perspective (Bolman & Deal, 1997), which would include the politics and culture of the organisation, and not just the structure and human resources frames that usually are the main factors that influence most leaders. In fact, publications on leadership have often reflected different points of view and philosophical standpoint (Busher, 1998). On the other hand, the researchers paradigm being used (Clark and Clark, 1990), as well as the underlying ontological, epistemological and methodological premises (Cohen, Manion, and Morrison, 2011) have been depicted in different evaluation addressing the notion of leadership. Such different perspectives have been associated with a multi-dimensional aspect when studying distributive leadership.

Dimmock and Walker (2002) ascertained that an educational leader should possess eight interrelated qualities:

Collaboration and participation: having the ability to empower others to collaborate and share power

Motivation: inspiring effort and commitment among followers

Planning: visioning and strategic planning

Decision-making: having the right set of skills and techniques that are often exercised politically

Interpersonal communication: vital in enabling and promoting understanding and sharing of knowledge and information

Conflict management: managing conflict within the educational institution's community;

Evaluation and appraisal: staff appraisal and evaluation are two key leadership responsibilities

Staff and professional development: developing staff professionalism in line with educational institution needs

2.2 Leadership and Management

In the past, leaders were asked and expected to administer their educational institution rather than manage or lead them forward, but today it is a different story. In theory, a manager is perceived to be assigned an organisational role, whereas a leader is a role that can only be granted by ones subordinates (Collins and Porras, 1996). Leaders live out of their imagination instead of their memory. They tie themselves to their infinite potential instead of their limiting past. (Whisenand and Rush, 1993, p.56).

Active management is just as crucial as visionary leadership if educational organisations are to be successful (Bush and Middlewood, 2005). As Lumby (2001) noted, the polarisation of leadership and management should be replaced by an androgynous approach that synthesizes both dimensions. According to Bush (2003, p.240), educational management should be centrally focused on the purpose and aims of education. The scholar continued to point out that unless this link between purpose and management is clearly and firmly established, there might be the danger of exerting stress on procedures at the expense of educational purpose and values. Such a scenario happens when the emphasis is put on managerial efficiency rather than on the aims and purposes of education, that is on educational concerns (Newman and Clarke, 1994; Gunter, 1997; Elliot and Crossley, 1997; McTavish, 2003).

Furthermore, another salient difference that is usually brought out between the two terms is that leadership is associated with change while management is seen as a maintenance activity (Cuban, 1988). Both notions ought to be given equal importance if educational organisations are to function efficiently and achieve their aims. Therefore, while a clear vision is needed to establish the nature and direction of change, it is equally essential to make sure that innovations are implemented efficiently. Such a move will ensure that the organisations primary functions are carried out efficiently and efficiently while some elements are changing (Bush and Middlewood, 2005).

2.3 Models of Leadership for the 21st Century

The report Inspiring Leaders to Improve Childrens Lives (2009. pp.3-14) showed that models of leadership are changing across the country. There is significant encouragement from the DCSF for Heads to consider whether a different model of leadersh...

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