Management and Leadership in Education 3
Management and Leadership in Education 3
Great interest has developed in educational leadership since the early 21st century due to the belief that quality leadership is making significant differences in student and school outcomes. In many part s of the world including Saudi Arabia, it is increasingly being recognized that effective managers and leaders are needed in schools if the best education possible is to be provided to learners (Davies, 2011). With the global economy gathering pace, governments are recognizing that people are an important asset and that becoming and maintaining competitiveness depends on developing a workforce that is highly skilled (Preedy, Bennett, & Wise, 2011). Schools need teachers who are committed and well trained, and besides able leadership is needed comprised of principals supported by other middle and senior managers who are highly effective. Although the importance of effective leadership is acknowledged, there is less certainty regarding the leadership behaviours that are more likely to yield favorable outcomes.
The management and leadership field is pluralist having several competing perspectives and inevitably lacking agreement regarding the precise nature of this discipline. One of the arguments revolves around if educational leadership is a branch of management or if it is a distinct field (Davies, 2011). However, given that education may borrow from settings, management and leadership in education should be mainly concerned with aims or purposes of education. The aims goals and purposes provide the direction underpinning management in schools. Failure to link management and purpose may result into ‘managerialism’, which is an emphasis on procedures rather than values and purposes of education.
It is however worth noting that external pressures especially from government expectations, which are expressed through formal policy or legislation statements, influence the aims of a school greatly (Davies, 2011). School managers are left with the residual role of interpreting the external imperatives instead of determining their own aims based on own assessment of the learner’s needs. The critical issue that school managers are left with is modification of government policy while developing alternative approaches that are based on school-level vision and values.
Conceptualizing educational management and leadership
Although there is interest in management and leadership globally due to its observed importance in development and maintenance of successful schools and educational systems, there is less clarity regarding the best leadership behaviours that are likely to result into the most desirable outcomes. Being aware of the different approaches is critical in providing an array of tools for discerning leaders to choose from when being faced by day-to-day dealings and problems (Preedy, Bennett, & Wise, 2011). This existence of varied perspectives is described as ‘conceptual pluralism’ with every theory providing an explanation for events and behaviours in educational settings. The perspectives that school manager favor implicitly or greatly inevitably determine or influence decision-making.
In Saudi Arabia, school principals receive a great deal of advice from politicians, academicians, consultants and other officials on how to manage and lead their schools. However, this advice is atheoretical since it is not it is not supported by explicit concepts or values. The government however utilizes conceptual language while supporting its own intentions that are politically inspired (Preedy, Bennett, & Wise, 2011).
Models in educational management and leadership
According to Davies (2011), many educational management theories have been developed although many have overlapping perspectives, some models are also similar but have different names or at point, the same terminology is used to denote differing approaches. Therefore, some level of integration is needed so that these theories may be presented discretely and clearly. In fact, there are six main educational management theories presented by Davies including formal, collegial, subjective, political, cultural and ambiguity.
Analyzing these models considers four key elements that are critical in the distinction of these theories. The criterion is as follows:
a) The agreement levels about the objectives and goals of an institution. In fact, orientation in terms of goal is one of the two factors within various leadership definitions. However, the theories differ because some put more emphasis on organizational aims, whilst others focus more on individual purposes (Preedy, Bennett, & Wise, 2011). Some models feature an agreement regarding objectives while others put a stress on conflict rather than aims or pointing to difficulties when defining purpose in educational organizations.
b) The validity and meaning of organizational structures in educational institutions, where there are two dimensions – of people and structure. Laying greater importance on structure gives a notion of defining people by the roles they play while an emphasis on people results in personality predominance in determination of behaviour. Some theorists believe structure to be an objective fact (Davies, 2011). Others believe that structure is a subjective creation from individuals in an institution. Besides, another group of theorists argue that structure represents a matter of dispute or negotiation while another claims that structure is among the several ambiguous in colleges and schools.
c) The third criterion is the relationship between the external environment and the institution. Self-managing educational institutions increase the importance of relationships that school managers and staff ought to have with external individuals and groups. The nature of the external relationships has turned out to be a central element in differentiating the models. Some theorists consider the school principal to be the main contact with the external world (Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach, 1999). The links are considered essentially cooperative, or political with conflicts between external agencies and the institution.
d) This criterion is concerned with the most appropriate strategies of leadership for use in educational institutions (Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach, 1999). Various analysts have differing views regarding the strategies or approaches utilized in educational leadership depending on the theories that they espouse. Some analysts assume school heads to be the leaders in establishing objectives as well as decision-making, whilst others see the school head as one of the figures within a system that is participative. Indeed, some approaches emphasize conflict within educational institutions while emphasizing the negotiator role of the school head while other approaches point to limitations of active leadership role within institutions that are essentially ambiguous.
These criteria demonstrate the differences in the approaches used by various models while reinforcing the idea that theories are selective and normative.
Models in educational leadership
Recently, various competing and alternative leadership models have been generated. A common classification has identified six types of models. However, Davies (2011), has extended the classification to eight models, which are highlighted below along the management models that have been highlighted above.
Management model Leadership model
Typology of leadership and management models (Davies, 2011)
This theory of leadership emphasizes that leaders including school leaders should focus on behaviours, tasks and functions to ensure institutional success. Formal positions are allocated influence and authority in proportion to the rank of the positions within an institution’s hierarchy (Davies, 2011). Leaders and managers of self-managing educational institutions ought to develop as well implement the cyclical process relating to the seven functions of management including needs identification, goal setting, priority setting, planning, budgeting, implementation and evaluation.
Nevertheless, this leadership type does not include the vision concept that is crucial in most leadership theories. Managerial leadership concerns itself with successful management of existing resources and activities instead of having a vision to better the educational institution. This is an approach suitable for institutional leaders working in systems, which are centralized, since it prioritizes efficient execution of external obligations (Davies, 2011). In fact, the bureaucratic managerial leadership is the preferable in many systems of education including in Saudi. This approach is still important in the 21st century Saudi because orderly and calm educational institutions are necessary.
This type of leadership considers organizational members’ capacities and commitments to be critical in the organization’s success due to greater effort and productivity. Transformational leadership is based on important dimensions, which include (Paton, & Mccalman, 2008):
• Building of a school vision
• Establishment of school goals
• Provision of intellectual stimulation
• Provision of individualized support
• Modeling important organizational values and best practices
• Demonstration of high expectations in performance
• Creating a school culture that is productive
• Developing structures fostering participation in decision-making
School leadership that utilizes this model offers an approach that is normative whereby the leadership aims to influence institutional outcomes instead of the direction or nature of the outcomes (Paton, & Mccalman, 2008). It has the potential of engaging all educational stakeholders hence promoting attainment of educational goals. It increases control over teachers as the followers, which is one of the criticisms against this model in addition to having the potential of becoming despotic due to its charismatic, heroic and strong features.
According to this leadership theory, decision-making should be a group affair with participation increasing school effectiveness as justified by democratic principles. This approach bonds staff and lessens burden on the leader as roles and functions are shared (Paton, & Mccalman, 2008). Setting up of democratic structures requires thoughtful and careful planning and at the same time, parents should be kept informed and supported.
Transactional leadership is linked to the political model, which elicits conflicts between stakeholders and disagreements being resolved with the most powerful protagonists being favored. According to the transactional leadership model, relationships among teachers are based on exchange of a valued resource (Paton, & Mccalman, 2008). Interactions between the principal and the teachers are short-lived, episodic and limited to the particular exchange transaction. Ideally, principals have authority courtesy of being formal leaders in schools. However, the principal requires cooperation from teachers to ensure effective school management. The cooperation is an exchange that may result into benefits for every party in it. For example, a union of teachers can be used to negotiate a stake for teachers in the management and running of the school, which upon being granted, the school is able to run effectively.
According to this model, an institutional leader ought to respect and pay attention to the diversity of individual stakeholder perspectives. Bureaucracy should be avoided and participation, inclusion and consultation should be advocated for, which is consistent with participative leadership (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2011). Participation of teachers, parents and learners and other stakeholders should be sought in all issues affecting their interests.
This model considers ethics, values and beliefs to be critical aspects of leadership. Influence and authority are derived from conceptions of whatever is good or right. Accordingly, an excellent school should have a central zone that is composed of beliefs and values, which take on cultural or sacred characteristics. The two approaches in moral leadership are spiritual and moral confidence (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2011). The former is where a leader possesses ‘higher order’ perspectives that may be represented by specific religious affiliations, on which self-awareness is based on. The latter is the ability to act in ways that are consistent with ethical systems. Managerial and moral leadership are approaches are essential for a learning environment.
This model focuses on direction of influence as opposed to its source and nature as happens in other models. The increased emphasis on management of learning and teaching as core activities in educational institutions has resulted brought forth this approach. This model is strongly associated with learning and teaching including student growth and learning of teachers (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2011). The influence of leaders is targeted in student learning through teachers with an emphasis on direction. The role of management at every educational level is the support and creation of conditions enabling students and teachers to attain learning.
According to this model, the school leadership should recognize the diversity in various school contexts and adapt the appropriate leadership style for that context or situation instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2011). Saudi for example, has schools some of which are well endowed while others lack essential facilities. Therefore, a single approach of leadership cannot be prescribed for both school types.
Evaluating theory on experience in learning
In the current education world, achievement of success for learners including socially, academically, spiritually and physically is the goal of every school. This success should be achievable in both short- and long-term while maintaining sustainable improvement. Education managers and leadership should ensure that their schools are able to adapt as well as improve whenever they meet new and demanding challenges or contexts (Starr, 2014). They should also have the ability to manage current situations while providing strategic leadership for the future especially in the current world that is rapidly changing i.e. creating a strategically focused school.
Sustainability is considered as relying on the past to build the future by leaping forward onto new ways of organizational performance and learning such that human and organizational resources are enhanced without demoralizing or depleting them (Davies, 2011). The sustainability concept ought to be linked to individuals within a school setting since sustainability has been defined providing challenges with exhausting an individual or group. Strategy on the other hand involves linking several concepts or ideas. It involves a sequence of actions consciously reacted to or taken such that it shapes an organization’s direction. This is a forward-looking or future element regarding where the school is headed to as articulated by leaders. Strategic thinking calls for rising above daily managerial processes as well as crises in order to gain a different perspective.
Unlike managerial leadership highlighted earlier in leadership models, strategic leadership is a new approach encompassing the setting of direction agendas that are broadly aggregated, a perspective viewing the future as well as a template against which achievements are measured. Strategic vision defines and then translates moral purpose and vision into action. It represents a mechanism of delivery to build direction and capacity for an organization so that it is able to achieve directional change or shift (Davies, 2011). This translation indeed requires a mind-set that is proactive and transformational. It strives to achieve something better instead of maintaining a transactional leadership approach.
Management implication in my own establishment
Developments in the education sector are categorized into instruction development, faculty development, professional development, curriculum development, academic and organizational development. The education system in Saudi is diverse having various subjects within its curriculum. Usually, it is the Ministry of education that sets standards, which are followed; as well as overseeing the special education department (Davies, 2011). In order to contribute to enhancement of education in secondary schools in Saudi, I spearheaded a team assisting in setting up an online computer study program in Albena’ Secondary School. This was in line with technological developments taking place in the world today with computers becoming part of every education system.
In order to keep up the trends of improving instruction as well as accessing information and knowledge, the program would help learners to carry out online research and provide a platform of interaction between the teacher and the learner. On the other hand, teachers can access students’ progress in real time. In order to actualize the program, it was important as the leader of a team implementing the program to manage the change associated with program implementation (Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach, 1999). Similarly, implementation of the program required application of the appropriate styles of leadership as outlined in the various leadership models. One of the models that was found to be appropriate and one that was widely utilized in managing this change, was the participative leadership. However, there were aspects of other leadership models that were utilized in implementing the computer program such as transformational, post-modern, contingent and managerial leadership models.
Among the principles applied in managing change included understanding of the computer program, ensuring involvement of the various stakeholders in the school’s education system including teachers, students, parents, IT professionals and the local education administrators or officials (Starr, 2014). It was ensured that every participant was aware of the rationale for the new program, when the new program would be incorporated in the school system and what would measure success and level of change. Besides, every participant was involved in the planning for the change and setting of achievable and measurable targets. Clearly, every person was involved from the beginning of the program implementation to its end.
Before introducing the computer program, the team prepared a list of stakeholders that would be affected and the effect on them. The school managers in collaboration with local education officials had the responsibility of making changes to the school policies as well as teaching methods utilized. The management therefore had to understand the importance and the impact of a technologically savvy educational approach prior to consenting to its implementation. Involvement of the management ensured that the team also received logistical support as well as providing external links and consultations whenever needed (Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach, 1999).
Involvement of parents in the computer program was necessary in every stage. They were made to understand the trends in trends in technological changes and the importance of moving along with the changes. Often, parents want their children off their computers and smartphones. Parents had to be educated on the need of shifting and/or complementing book reading in libraries with studying through digital devices. Parents who understood the benefits of computer ?program implementation would support their children in using modern technology in their learning (Fullan, 2007).
Moreover, in line with the instructional model of leadership, teachers as the implementers of the computer program, had to be involved in every stage of program implementation. There was an emphasis on the need for teachers to keep themselves up to date with technological changes as well as computer teaching methods in order to influence students appropriately (Fullan, 2007). Teachers were urged to implement the program bit by bit to avoid that students were not left behind or overwhelmed with new information. The students were the main stakeholders since they were the main target of the program since it was aiming to improve their learning by enabling access to a great deal of scholarly information and enable seeking of assistance from their teachers among other things. Computers would in fact make their work much easier and more efficient.
As a transformational leader, I had to understand that change management was not a matter of just following steps. I had to apply several change management principles that indeed came handy in the whole process of introducing and implementing the computer program including (Fullan, 2007):
• Change being a process that would require spending time
• That a right answer cannot alone be enough
• Examination of radical versus incremental changes
• Understanding of the value system
• Acknowledging the need for authority to implement change
• Recognizing and managing resistance and comfort with the status quo
• Having senders and receivers (senders are the proposers of change while receivers are persons affected by the change). For example, I headed the team of senders while teachers, students, the school management and parents receivers.
Ideally, the appropriate leadership approaches had to be applied in managing resistance and discomfort associated with implementation of the computer program. For example, on several occasions I had to convene meetings to explain the importance of employing computer technology in learning in the current world. The post-modern leadership approach was necessary in order to accommodate the concerns of various stakeholders for resisting change such as current life events of an individual, societal changes and personal history of the receiver (Chapman & Gunter, 2008). In fact, a proactive approach was employed to monitor and manage any resistance well in advance of program implementation.
Authority is an important managerial leadership aspect that needs to be considered during change management (Chapman & Gunter, 2008). It is indeed a critical success factor. Without seeking consent from the relevant authorities, implementation of the computer program would have been impossible. Getting support from authority figures additionally gave the program implementation team a boost. It has been documented that lack of support from authority figures may result in wastage of immense amount of resources.
In addition, values have proved to be an important aspect in every organization. An organization’s value system determines the way the top management arrives at strategic decisions as well as the way lower and middle level employees implement these strategies (Chapman & Gunter, 2008). In order to implement the program effectively, it is critical to ensure that the top management is first committed to supporting the changes. Clearly, implementing the computer program seemed to be less favored by a bureaucratic managerial type of leadership and therefore a more or less participative approach was widely used since education stakeholder had a role to play in ensuring success of the program.
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