Cognitively Complex Leadership Teams And School Culture And Student Performance Literature Review

Length: 10 pages Sources: 20 Subject: Leadership Type: Literature Review Paper: #50812427 Related Topics: Neuman Model, School Bullying, Virtual Team, Team Building
Excerpt from Literature Review :

¶ … Cognitively Complex leadership teams influence School Culture and Student Performance?

Cognitive complexity

Neuman (1989) in his study defined cognitive complexity as a psychological variable or characteristic which defines how simple or complex the perceptual and frame skill of the person is. An individual with a higher cognitive complexity perceives the tasks in different ways as compared to a person with lower cognitive complexity. It can also be defined as the amount of mental structures used by us, the level of abstract and how much is their interaction in shaping the perceptions (Neuman, 1989).

Granello and Babalis (2004) in their study illustrate that cognitive complexity is also defined as an ability which allows the person to think in more than one abstract term. The term includes 2 structural elements which are integration and differentiation. Integration is the ability to recognize numerous relationships between the comprehended characteristics while differentiation is the ability to identify multiple dimensions instead on one in a stimulus (Granello & Babalis, 2004). They go on that cognitive skills that are advanced allow the leaders to shine in areas that are important for leading a firm which involves different communication skills like active writing, active listening and speaking. Moreover, these skills also allow the leaders to do work with information that is new through different skills of learning and evaluate them through skills that require critical thinking (Granello & Babalis, 2004).

Recently, Granello (2010) argued that one of the main responsibilities of the leader is to perform changes in people and within the organization. Change can occur and initiate from the top leadership however it stops while going to the lower level if not encouraged enough. It is not necessary that change has to start from the top, but the lower levels can also cause changes; still most of the organizations prefer bringing the change through the hierarchical steps (Granello, 2010).

Granello and Babalis's (2004) earlier study found that even with the difference of definition, the center agreement of cognitive complexity is that the person with high levels of it utilizes the information and perceives it according to their skills while the people with low complexity have fixed perceptions. The leaders have to keep in note the needs of the workers as well as know everything about the business operations. The same is the case in schools; however it might be difficult to keep in mind the needs of the staff and the teachers while continuing to encourage production (Granello & Babalis, 2004). Behavioral complexity has also been linked with cognitive complexity. The ability to recognize and read the social cues and then reacting according to them separates the individuals.

Behavioral Complexity

Leadership plays an effective role and is performed by ways of actions that are influencing. Earlier studies on Behavioral Complexity show that behavioral complexity is action through which the leaders realize their tasks, visions and goals. This has also been known as a capacity of the leader to get engaged in a variety of behaviors. Similarly, a person with behavioral complexity that is high is more capable of behaviors and behaves accordingly. According to one earlier study, this phenomenon also allows a person to perform different roles at the same time like enforcing procedures and policies along with developing relationships (William, 1994). The leaders must see that changes are being made along with maintaining law and order while ensuring accuracy with production. Other studies show that behavioral complexity also concentrates on the level of fulfilling the demands of the society and be capable of performing different roles.

For instance, a study by Katzenbach and Smith (2001) indicates that the business managers are not carefully planning all the details of the business but instead they are trying to compete and fulfill the demands that are being given to them. Leader effectiveness is also related to behavioral complexity which indicates that they have a very important role to play towards the road of success. They argue that the leadership actions of the leaders belonging to the education system is different depending on the educational, psychological, personal and cultural characteristics which can help to bring forward change...


Change is a transition from one state to another and can be caused as a result of conflicts, diversities, and differences between people and things. Cerseu, Janssen and Raab (2011) in their study found that the people sometimes are not given with a wide variety of choices in order to change the situation but they try to prevent it and resist it in different ways. A study shows that resistance or prevention towards change brings forward more problems when it's compared with the amount of involvement with the change which is why change should be managed in a way that is controlled (Cerseu, Janssen, & Raab, 2011). Therefore, despite the separate reasons for performing a change, the change in organizations is accepted in different aspects while on the other hand it might resist on other situations. This resistance and acceptance according to a research depends on elements like timing and content of change and the risks that it will show in the future.

Cognitive Complexity and Leadership Teams in school

The educational leaders might differ in their behaviors, values and beliefs which are why they are categorized as transactional, transformational, democratic, autocratic etc. And they also become very much noticeable in controlling the change. Lester and Kezar (2011) in their study found that the researchers looking for leadership in high education have concentrated more on the individual positions in order to discover the universal characteristics of leadership including strategies, behaviors and cognitive framework which distinguishes effective and successful leadership in the postsecondary context of education. Although, some scholars in the recent years have started critiquing and questioning the individual's focus on the authoritative positions. A lot of researches have shed light on this matter and states that most of the individuals in the authoritative position often are not the real leadership source (Lester & Kezar, 2011). Earlier studies also showed that the grouped leadership formed throughout the hierarchy of the institution had been more effective for creating change and decision making (Neuman & Bensimon, 1993).

As a result of this, our tolerance and understanding for the high education leadership has increased and our focus is more towards collective leadership modes i.e. leadership teams. A team includes multiple people working with each other and giving importance to various perspectives in creating changes and decision making. Ellemers, Gilder, and Haslam (2004) in their study found that the leadership teams are more productive in guiding the organizations to change as they are more supportive, equitable, efficient and competent (Ellemers, Gilder, & Haslam, 2004). In an earlier study, Neuman and Bensimon (1993) found that the leadership teams enable and support the organizations to learn and change and empower the individuals and also allow managers to concentrate on their strategies. Furthermore, the leadership teams are useful in promoting creativity and innovation which is highly important to reach cognitive complexity; which is a base of collective talent that helps the members of the team to understand and see the college life through various perspectives and process the coming information in several forms (Neuman & Bensimon, 1993). Day, Gronn and Salas (2004) criticize current research on leadership teams and argue that current research on this topic concentrates more on the upper level teams of the hierarchy of the institution. A lot of studies indicate the ways that positional leadership evolve and create unilateral and strategic decisions with the help of the team's input. They assert that the few studies that were found out did discuss the significance of cognitive complexity but they only discussed the leadership that came under the appointment of the president. Moreover, the leadership teams under the presidential appointment are simply considered to be advisory bodies rather than change agents (Day, Gronn, & Salas, 2004).

There has been no examination of the collective leadership modes at university or college grass root levels; which is very concerning because there is a rise on the leadership teams and a lot of the teams come forward without the influence of the administration and also as the collective modes. In addition to this, Southworth (1997) found that universities and colleges have to face a lot of problems which require creative and new solutions, individual's engagement throughout the institution and different perspectives (Southworth, 1997). Recently, Wilkinson (2012) found that the teams on the grass root level if are able to reach the cognitive complexity are capable to articulate solutions and foster engagement. A research defines the leadership teams of the grass root levels as the collective of more than one individual with a common vision and goal. The leadership teams must come forward from the lower level on the organization without any presidential appointment of influence and there should be engagement in building the teams (Wilkinson, 2012). The engagement in building the identity of the team which includes building identity, engaging in different dialogues etc. differentiates a…

Sources Used in Documents:


Berninger, V.W. (2012). Past, Present, and Future Contributions of Cognitive Writing Research to Cognitive Psychology. Psychology Press: UK.

Cerseu, P., Janssen, S., & Raab, J. (2011). Connecting the dots: Social network structure, conflict, and group cognitive complexity. Netherlands: Department of Organization Studies.

Day, D., Gronn, P., & Salas, E. (2004). Leadership capacity in teams. The leadership Quarterly, 857-880.

Derek, A., Grace, M., & Dawn, D. (1996). Cognitive Complexity and Expertise. Ottawa: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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