«CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN MARCOS Restructuring Leadership for 21st Century Schools: How Transformational Leadership and Trust Cultivate ...»
A Principals' Leadership Style Research suggests that leadership styles can facilitate or hinder successful staff cooperation (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978; Hay, 2006). In school settings, transactional leadership has been a dominating force throughout the last century (Bass, 1990; Hater & Bass, 1988; Ross & Gray, 2006). The transactional leadership approach has fostered teachers who answer directly to the principal based on a give and take relationship (Liontos, 1992). In an educational setting in which there is a more transaction approach this may inhibit the opportunity for teachers to work together. Research continues to show that transactional leadership does not promote the most effective school cultures where teachers feel encouraged to develop their leadership skills (Jantzi & Leithwood, 1995; Kurland, Peretz & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2010). Although some advantages, such as policy implementation and clear expectations, can be credited to transactional leadership, advocates of school reform recommend an examination of transformational leadership as a possible solution to the limitations of the transactional leadership style (Fairholm, 2001;
Hay, 2007; Liontos, 1992).
Researchers believe implementation of transformational leadership and a focus of creating high quality, highly effective teacher leaders may be the answer to transforming the direction of schools (Bass, 1990; Jensen, 1995). Transformational leadership encourages school leaders to broaden and elevate the interest of teachers by generating awareness and acceptance of the purpose and mission of the group while creating group efficacy. When transformational leadership is successfully implemented, leaders stir subordinates to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group (Bass, 1990). Scholars of transformational leadership have recently found this type of leadership to be more responsive to the social justice and educational equity agenda driving educational shifts in response to the academic and other gaps separating learners in U.S.
schools (Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012; Shields, 2010). This type of leadership has the potential to construct the type of school culture capable of motivating and sustaining change. In order to sustain the changes needed to become schools where leadership is nurtured and shared, instructional leaders would be wise to consider this more contemporary and progressive approach to creating teacher-group efficacy for the betterment of the students they serve (Leithwood et al., 2004). When teachers become leaders and active participants in the organizational learning process, they contribute to the successful change in school culture. Leaders also influence student learning by developing ways for teachers to share their learning with others (Kurland et al., 2010;
Leithwood & Jantzi, 2008).
Trust Theory and the Transformational Leader The construct of trust has long been a subject of study by philosophers. Many meanings, both positive and negative, can be established from the presence of trust (Tschannen-Moran, 2003). Based upon a feeling or expectation, trust can cause harmony or strife, confidence or insecurity, self-assurance or doubt. Trust is often defined as the relation between a trustor and a trustee. This shared relationship is grounded in the trustor's belief about the trustee's capabilities and about the context in which the relationship occurs (Taddeo, 2009). Many times the presence of trust is predicated on the behavior or actions of individuals or groups. Trust is an agreement, sometimes unspoken, that each party will honor the word or promise pledged. Further definitions have defined trust as one's willingness to participate in relationships that involve being vulnerable (Daly, 2009) and possessing traits of competency, reliability, openness, and concern (Mishra, 1996). For the purposes of this paper, the researcher defined the overall construct of trust as the extent to which one engages in a relationship knowing there will be a potential willingness to accept risk.
In an environment where trust is nonexistent a negative feeling tone can be felt throughout the organizations. In A Companion Handbook to Clinical Supervision by Sue Welsh and Ann Huddleston (1990), feeling tone is described as the pleasant or unpleasant feeling of the teacher toward the work environment. Used as a tool for harvesting and supporting teacher productivity, a negative feeling tone can deter one from trusting their superior. In school settings where principals withhold information from their staff, teachers may become suspicious. Principals who distrust might create isolation and doubt among their staff. This mind-set can lead to feelings of school wide discord (TschannenMoran, 2003; Mishra, 1996). The same can be true for teacher leaders who exhibit reticent behaviors isolating them from their colleagues. In sum, the absence of trust has been proven to increase anxiety, estrangement, and isolation among school stakeholders (Daly, 2009).
Trust is a social capital resource that is interwoven in the relationships between people (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998; Misztal, 1996). Social capital can be defined in terms of cultural and structural components (Hargreaves, 2001). The cultural component takes into account the level of trust between people and the “norms of reciprocity and collaboration” (Hargreaves, 2001, p. 490). The structural aspect examines the established networks shared among members. In the business world the need for trust is important for the organization to thrive and today’s schools are no different. A school rich in social capital, both culturally and structurally, will generate strong interactions among teachers and high levels of collaboration. Building social capital within any organization is critical to the establishment of trust (Chhuon et al., 2008).
There are five facets of trust Hoy and Tschannen-Moran (2003) believe can be identified through trust relationships: benevolence, reliability, competence, honesty, and openness. Each of these facets is present, in one form or another, in the behavior of principals and in a teachers’ willingness to trust (Tschannen-Moran, 2003). Of these, the researcher felt further examination of openness and its effects on the trust relationship between principals and teachers warranted further study.
Openness relates to the way information is exchanged or shared within an organization (Mishra, 1996). With the idea of openness come feelings of vulnerability and exposure (Tschannen-Moran, 2003). Principals who promote openness create supportive and trusting climates for teachers while making themselves vulnerable through sharing of information and decision-making. Principals who have earned the trust of their faculty have done so by extending trust to fellow teachers and being receptive to the ideas of others. Additionally, principals who encourage open lines of communication are principals most likely to earn the trust of teachers (Tschannen-Moran, 2003; 1998). As research indicates patterns of communication and network interactions clearly encourage trust between principals and teachers.
A transformational principal knows that trust among administrators, teachers, students, and parents should not be an abstract idea talked about at the beginning of the school year then shelved. When trust is present throughout a school community, stakeholders work together creating a place where students thrive. According to Sergiovanni (1992), effective change is influenced by the way the school community relates to each other and cooperates together.
Ghamrawi (2011) contends that principals can establish trust by creating environments that encourage teachers to participate in professional dialogue, modeling leadership behaviors, and support ways for teachers to develop a reflective practice. In their study of supportive principal behavior and faculty trust, Tarter, Bliss, and Hoy (1989) found significantly higher levels of teacher engagement when trust was present.
The study’s findings imply that trust is built indirectly through a principal’s supportive behavior of teachers.
In a longitudinal study of trust and the establishment of teacher leadership, Ghamrawi (2011) examined the pivotal role trust plays in a teacher’s self-efficacy, collaboration, commitment, collective vision, and sense of belonging. Ghamrawi found that teachers who are engaged in the decision making process possess more of these qualities and are more willing to work together for a common purpose. The study reflected on how trust was the bonding element that created positive relationships among principals and teachers. This resulted in teachers becoming risk-takers in the classroom and having the confidence to try new instructional strategies without fear of ridicule from a critical principal.
Transformational Leadership and School Culture Schools with toxic atmospheres create resistance to change and are a breeding ground for discontent and insubordination. Principals across the nation can attest to the strain of change when confronted by veteran teachers who have seen leaders and leadership styles come and go over the years. A school's ability to overcome the obstacles of change can be a difficult task for a new principal. A study examining slow-improving schools in Washington found that many problems schools experienced often took on two forms; distrust and resistance among veteran teachers, and minimal commitment to education reform (Jerald, 2005).
Transformational leaders create environments that welcome new ideas and creativity and where the barriers associated with complex change are broken down (Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012). In environments like these, reform can start to take place. Transformational leadership has been proven to have a positive effect on teachers (Ross & Gray, 2006). People are motivated by goals that they find personally compelling, as well as challenging. Human nature is such that people will rise to the occasion when they are part of the developmental process. Feeling compelled to be part of the solution will foster a sense of belonging that gives educators a vested interest in the outcome.
Having obtainable goals helps people make sense of their work and enables them to find a sense of identity for themselves within their work content (Leithwood et al., 2004). The key to successfully implementing transformational leadership lies in enlisting all members of the team to carry out leadership roles, even those most unlikely and historically not provided opportunities to serve as leaders (Chrispeels et al., 2000;
Darling-Hammond, 1990; Lieberman et al., 1988; Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012).
An important aspect of leadership is helping the group develop a shared understanding about the organization (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2008). One way of applying the philosophy of transformational leadership is through the co-creation of a mission statement that reflects the direction of the school. A school’s principal and its teachers must believe in the core mission of the school and should make every decision based on that vision. With an ultimate goal of creating world-class schools, a school's mission statement should be the framework for every decision made. Starting each staff meeting or professional development with the mission statement posted reminds staff of their unity of purpose and the importance of how they communicate their ideas and attitudes to other teachers (Jerald, 2005).
Although creating a school's mission statement or implementing the current one starts with the role of the principal, it is critical that transformational leaders practice the importance of teamwork. One of the major goals of creating a mission statement is to help administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members guide organizational change, thus enforcing the African proverb, it takes a village.
Furthermore, the academic success of all students should be the primary goal. For a mission statement to be effective is must clearly state whom the organization serves and how this group benefits from the activities of the organization (Slate, Jones, Wiesman, Alexander, & Saenz, 2008).
The Effects of a Transformational Principal on Teacher Commitment Principals adopting transformational practices were more likely than principals with transactional styles to have higher teacher efficacy in their schools (Ross & Gray,
2006) and the charisma of the leader was a significant factor in determining how much teachers wanted to commit to the overall vision of the school (Hay, 2006). According to transformational leadership, leaders (principals) engage with followers (teachers and students) as whole people rather than simply as employees (Hay, 2006). Charismatic principals create environments where teachers want to be and where students remember their interactions with the principal and their teachers.
True charismatic leadership is the ability to create a self-image so powerful that people naturally want to become part of the movement (Changing Minds, 2002).
Charisma is an elusive, personal quality that involves not just the leader but also the followers. Typically seen in a positive light, being a charismatic leader can be viewed as a powerful force over others that can lead to consensus building that completes the work and ultimate plan of the leader without ethical responsibility to the followers.
The biggest challenge facing principals today is balancing the need for change with the expectations that are placed upon them. In wanting to find out what qualities mattered most in a principal, Lucas (2002) interviewed teachers from 12 middle schools.
Overwhelmingly teachers wanted a principal who provided an appropriate model of leadership behavior, individualized support, identified and articulated a vision, and high held expectations. School faculty, whether new teachers or seasoned veterans, considered knowing the direction and plan for the school a high priority. Additional findings from this study supported the current movement of educational reform that embodied a collaborative form of school leadership and the concluding analysis further sustained the notion that principals and teacher leaders play different roles in the implementation of transformational leadership and the shaping of a school’s culture (Lucas, 2002).