Leadership Styles Among Male and Female Principal and How Teachers Rate Their Principals Term Paper

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Leadership Styles Among Male and Female Principal

It is the intention of this research to study the leadership and cognitive styles of teachers and instructors of both genders within the educational system and their preference for types of leadership in a principal of that institution.

The research will include teachers and educators from all levels of the educational system from grade school to high school. The study will also include teachers and instructors from all major academic fields of study offered in public and private schools. The studies conducted thus far in the educational arena indicate that teachers are equally inclined towards different cognitive styles.

Teachers prefer a mix of idealist, analytical and realistic cognitive styles of leadership in their Principals. Studies have also indicated that teachers prefer that principals are people oriented and task oriented in their approach to running the school or institution. In addition, teachers also prefer that the Principal be a personable individual who can be approached when a teacher is facing difficult situations. In most cases, demographic characteristics with regards to gender, ethic origins and education level do not change the teacher's cognitive style preferences. Finally, are the leadership styles displayed by both genders different? And what type of leadership style: transactional (incremental) or transformational (discontinuous) do principals of schools display?

Knowing and understanding the various factors affecting the leadership style used by the Principal and the interaction between the teachers and the Principal can help the school operate in an efficient and organized manner in accomplishing its mission of imparting education to impressionable students who are the future.


1.0 Introduction

The aim of this introductory chapter is to give the reader an overview of the leadership styles and the prevailing trends in leadership in the educational field. The cognitive styles that affect leadership in schools and institutes of learning will be evaluated in this study. Relationship between teachers and principals who are the main authorities in the schools will also be investigated. In addition, the purpose and objective of the study mentioned in the Abstract will also be discussed with respect to its significance to the study of the institution of education as a whole. This study will end with a summary of the topic discussed in the chapters.

1.1 Background of Leadership and the Educational System

Man has always thirsted for education and self-improvement. The ability to think and to reason distinguishes man as superior to other species. From the Greeks to the Romans in Europe, to the Chinese and the Indians in the Asian subcontinent, and to the American Indian tribes of North America and the Mayans from South America, all civilizations have displayed formal or informal educational structures that were the building blocks of their respective societies. Over time, many of these societies moved from an informal style of education to a more formal and generalized format over the period of the existence of any civilization.

Teachers, scholars and educators were always offered and given the respect due their higher education and knowledge. Before formalized education, individuals who were skilled in arts, sciences or crafts took in apprentices whom they personally trained and supervised till they felt that the apprentice had acquired all the knowledge that this "educator" could provide. If the student felt the need for additional education, he or she then moved on to another teacher for training in another field.

Formalized education arose when a group of skilled and knowledgeable individuals gathered together under one roof to provide knowledge to students. It was also determined that students, unlike their counterparts in days gone by, had to be provided with a well rounded curriculum to enable them to successfully gain knowledge which would enable to obtain gainful employment. Currently, in schools, teachers bear the heavy responsibility of educating and developing the young and preparing them mentally and socially to become successful, contributing members of society. It is a challenging job. It goes beyond just imparting knowledge. Teachers have to provide more than just book-education; their personal opinions and behaviors make a great impact of impressionable and young minds.

How teachers conduct themselves and behave both with their colleagues and the Principal of the school make a big impact on how their students view them. New situations and problems are diverse. These evolve and change constantly which every class and generation. In addition to being adaptable, the manner in which a teacher can react and deal with these diversities is paramount for the welfare of students.

1.2 Statement of the problem of different Leadership styles

All individuals are different. They react to situations differently. Every individual has different cognitive styles. These depend on upbringing, background, the society from which the individual comes and personal opinions and styles. A study conducted by Ralph Stogdill (Stogdill, 1948) in 1948 indicated that the traits by themselves do not define a leader, and leadership patterns differed depending on situation. For example, the leadership qualities required by a military officer will differ from those required by a school principal.

Leaders can influence both good and bad behaviors in their followers. Winston Churchill and George Washington were great leaders. Both helped their respective countries during periods of great trials and difficulties. (Martin and Romano, 1992)

Schools are social, intellectual and cultural meeting-grounds for both students and teachers. After parents, teachers often are the first major influence to which a child is exposed. Just like any other business organization, schools also have their own organizational structure. Within the school setting the Principal is the leader, followed by the Vice-Principal. Various department heads report either directly to the Principal or the Vice Principal. For each department in the school, the teachers in that department are accountable to the department head. The department head in turn is accountable to the Vice Principal and then the Principal. To make a school effective, a principal has to constantly get his staff to work with him. In the course of mobilizing his staff to achieve the goals set for the school, he has to exercises leadership.

Fred Fiedler was the first to infer the connection between an individuals cognitive styles and the preference of leadership styles. (Fiedler, 1967) An individual will chose a leadership style -- consciously or unconsciously -- that closely reflects an individuals' general cognitive style. A leader is also more effective if his followers also have a cognitive style that matches the leader's cognitive style. According to Fiedler, the leader communicates with the group and can affect group performance by both verbal and non-verbal behavior (facial expression, body language and use of gestures). Fiedler presents the classic view that behavior (of both the leader and the followers) arises from an interaction between personality (needs, motives, drives) and the situation (environment). His research hinges upon (1) an assessment of the leader's motivational structure (for example, what goals are most important to him or her), and (2) An assessment of how favorable the "situation" is to achieving those goals.

Cognitions are defined as "any knowledge, opinion, or belief about the environment, about oneself, or about one's behavior." Cognitions can either be consonant cognitions or dissonant cognitions. Dissonant cognition creates an uncomfortable feeling and forces the individual feeling the cognition to try and change the situation. The act of making a choice creates dissonance. When a discrepancy exists between behavior and belief -- dissonance arises.

In a school, both consonant cognitions and dissonance cognition is required among the teaching staff and the Principal. Dissonance cognition motivates teachers to try new and innovative teaching styles to improve the transfer of knowledge to the students. At the same time, consonant dissonance is required in the dealing with the Principal in order to ensure that personal conflicts between two adults in the school do not affect the school.

1.3 Purpose of the study

Men and women also display different types of leadership styles. While no specific style is better than other styles, there are advantages and disadvantages to gender-based leadership styles. This study will investigate, in depth, the different factors affecting leadership styles within (and between) sexes and evaluate their impact on the school as a whole. The study will also examine cognitive style and the leadership styles that teachers prefer in a principal.

In addition, the study will identify if:

i) There are any differences in teachers' preference for a) The five cognitive styles.

(b) The leadership styles -- transformational and transactional.

A ii) There are any differences in cognitive styles:

a) Between male and female teachers.

A iii) There are different management styles among male and female principals

1.4 Definition of Terms

1.4.1 The Five Cognitive Styles

This study examines how individuals react to data, assess problems and identify alternatives. The five thinking styles identified by (A. F. Harrison and Bramson, 1982) are defined below:

a) The Synthesist

The synthesist style focuses on essential factors, underlying assumptions and abstract concepts. Synthesists are identified as integrators. Individuals with this style like to identify two or more entities that appear to…[continue]

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