Academic journal article Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly

Principals' Inviting Leadership Behaviors in a Time of Test-Based Accountability

Academic journal article Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly

Principals' Inviting Leadership Behaviors in a Time of Test-Based Accountability

Article excerpt


We queried Florida elementary teachers about how they perceived their principals' professional and personal inviting leadership behaviors during a time when many teachers and principals felt a lot of pressure due to test-based accountability. Despite the pressure, teachers reported that their principals demonstrated fairly high levels of inviting leadership behaviors. Further, we found a positive relationship between elementary teachers' perceptions of their principal's inviting leadership behaviors and their job satisfaction, the climate of their school, and the accountability rating assigned to their school. These findings suggest that there is an association between the way in which principals interact with their faculty and the achievement level of students. While many factors affect student achievement, this study reminds us that factors such as inviting leadership behaviors are an important component of quality schools.


Educational leaders are constantly faced with different cultures and different circumstances in which they have the opportunity to lead. They must choose a leadership style that will enable them to lead the organization to new pinnacles of excellence in an era of "in your face accountability." According to Kouzes and Posner (2002), "Leadership is not all about personality; it's about practice" (p. 13). The dynamic process of leadership requires the educational leader to develop common practices into a model of leadership that will provide guidance for others to follow as they attempt to keep up with the ever-increasing state and national accountability mandates, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (U.S. Department of Education, no date).

During this time of high-stakes accountability, many teachers and principals have reported feeling pressure to increase students' standardized test scores (George, 2001; Jones & Egley, 2004; Jones, Jones, & Hargrove, 2003). We wondered how this pressure was affecting principals' leadership behaviors. Because Invitational Education Theory (IET) has been shown to be a viable leadership theory for the educational setting (Asbill, 1994; Egley, 2003), we designed a study to investigate the relationship between professionally and personally inviting behaviors of Florida elementary school principals and teacher job satisfaction, school climate, and school accountability ratings. The purpose of this paper is to discuss teachers' perceptions of their principals' inviting leadership behaviors and how these behaviors are related to teachers' job satisfaction, school climate, and school ratings.

Literature Review

Invitational Leadership

Invitational Leadership differs from the standard theories of leadership that emphasize the process of influencing others through the use of power. Instead, it promotes collaboration and shows compassion and respect for individuals in the educational system. Barth (1991) noted that improving the interactions among and between teachers and principals is a significant factor in the school improvement process.

According to Purkey and Siegel (2003), "Invitational Leadership is a theory of practice that addresses the total environment in which leaders function. As a theory put into practice, it is a powerful process of communicating caring and appropriate messages intended to summon forth the greatest human potential as well as for identifying and changing those forces that defeat and destroy potential" (p. 1). Their model of Invitational Leadership is one that encourages leaders and their associates to pursue more joyful and meaningful professional and personal lives through four guiding principles: respect, trust, optimism, and intentionality. Purkey and Novak (1996) noted that Invitational Education Theory (IET) is a theory of practice that offers a systematic approach to the educational process and it provides strategies for making schools more inviting. …

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