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It is highly important to analyze educational leaders’ behavior since it not only ensures an adequate control of all processes running in the institution but also shapes the climate in it. Presently, the majority of programs concentrate on what school principals should do rather than on what behaviors must be avoided (Northouse, 2015). However, some researchers insist that detrimental fallout even of one error is capable of offsetting the positive impact of a sequence of right actions, which implies that its consequences are too far-reaching to neglect (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2016). That is why it is crucial to understand what flawed leadership behaviors are common to be able to eliminate them via professional training.
Having observed a principle over several days, I found out that despite his ability to communicate clear objectives to the staff and be consistent and decisive, he demonstrated poor interpersonal communication skills in utilizing and accepting opinions. First and foremost, this was proven by his total inability to listen to teachers. He frequently interrupted them during regular meetings, continued doing his paperwork in their presence, and failed to maintain eye contact, emphasizing his non-caring attitude. Moreover, he reprimanded one of the teachers (who protested against an ineffective solution he found to the problem in the classroom) in front of others and demonstrated his irritation since decision-making was “not her business”. That allows concluding that giving and receiving feedback was the key problematic behavior found in this principal.
The description of the situation reveals that the major leadership style utilized by the principal is the autocratic (authoritarian) style. It is characterized by the desire of a leader to have control over all decisions and processes, rejecting almost any input from staff members, who often feel demotivated by this attitude (Kiboss & Jemiryott, 2014). Such leaders typically rely exclusively on their judgment and believe that only one person should be in charge (Antonakis, 2017). The critical attributes of this style include:
- accepting minimal input from staff members;
- being totally responsible for decision making;
- dictating all the work processes and methods to others;
- relying on rigid structuring;
- rarely trusting other people with important tasks;
- discouraging out-of-the-box thinking and creativity;
- introducing numerous rules to follow (Aydin, Sarier, & Uysal, 2013).
Despite the fact that this style can be effective in some areas, it was inappropriate for the particular situation. The teacher who attempted to explain that the solution proposed by the principal will not suit her classroom was more aware of the situation, knowing those children who are going to be affected by it (Antonakis, 2017). She cared not only about the functionality but also about the students’ feelings and attitudes, towards which the principal showed his complete indifference.
It would be rather challenging in this case to make the principle transfer to the next level of leadership, which is democratic. First, it is necessary to explain to him that subordinates should also be a part of the decision-making process since these decisions produce a considerable impact on their routine. It could be proposed to him to introduce opinion polls if he considers that discussing issues at meetings wastes his time. Moreover, he can be convinced to delegate at least some authority to trusted people, who will also be responsible for receiving and processing upward feedback. This way higher productivity can be achieved since all the opinions will be taken into account while the leader will save time (Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy, 2014). Gradually, meetings can also be made more democratic when teachers realize that their contribution into the process also matters.
Antonakis, J. (2017). The nature of leadership. New York, NY: Sage publications.
Aydin, A., Sarier, Y., & Uysal, S. (2013). The effect of school principals’ leadership styles on teachers’ organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 13(2), 806-811.
Kiboss, J. K., & Jemiryott, H. K. S. (2014). Relationship between principals’ leadership styles and secondary school teachers’ job satisfaction in Nandi South district, Kenya. Journal of Education and Human Development, 3(2), 493-509.
Nanjundeswaraswamy, T. S., & Swamy, D. R. (2014). Leadership styles. Advances in Management, 7(2), 57-62
Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice. New York, NY: Sage publications.
Shapiro, J. P., & Stefkovich, J. A. (2016). Ethical leadership and decision making in education: Applying theoretical perspectives to complex dilemmas. London, UK: Routledge.