Enthusiastic Educational Leadership

Article excerpt

A qualitative research study was conducted to explore the factors relating to enthusiastic and engaged educational leadership. The methodology included interviews of successful leaders in education at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, as well as a review of related research literature. The information gathered leads to the conclusion that enthusiasm and engagement with work is related to a collaborative leadership style, a strong work ethic, and alignment of personal and organizational missions. That is, educational leaders who (1) seek to achieve progress through collaboration, (2) exhibit a strong work ethic, and (3) clarify for themselves and others how the organizational mission aligns with personal mission are more likely, themselves, to be engaged and enthusiastic, while also promoting the same characteristics among those with whom they work.

Keywords: Enthusiasm; Engagement; Work; Leadership; Mission; Collaboration

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Engaged and enthusiastic--in the ideal world, isn't that how most people who work would want to feel every Monday morning, and in fact, every day at work? And how most supervisors or leaders would want their colleagues and co-workers to feel? One could argue that educational settings in particular should evidence a positive tone indicative of engagement and employee commitment to the purposes of the endeavor. The purpose of this study is to identify and describe those concepts that may be underlying enthusiasm and engagement with work in educational settings. In particular, the enthusiasm and engagement of educational leaders will be explored. A loose definition of the concept being examined (enthusiastic and engaged educational leadership) follows: those feelings about work that are held by people in positions of power and influence in the educational work setting, which include a significant sense of ownership, involvement, inspiration, commitment, and enjoyment.

The central question for the study was: What are the important factors influencing enthusiasm and engagement with the work of educational leaders? Sub-questions included: Why are these individuals enthusiastic and engaged with their work? What aspects about their work do they enjoy most? What motivates them? How do they hope to encourage others to be enthusiastic about their own work?

A qualitative study, using a phenomenological approach with pattern theory, was conducted on the topic of enthusiasm and engagement with work within the context of educational leadership. The study involved interviews of successful educational leaders and a review of literature specific to enthusiasm and engagement with work. The study was emergent in nature, in that an inductive approach was used. Theory was developed rather than being pre-assumed as in the case of a quantitative study. As new information was gathered and reviewed, the course of the study could take on new directions or incorporate additional concepts.

Following Moustakas' suggested format for reporting on a phenomenological study (1994), this report includes the following components: an introduction and purpose statement with topical outline (this section), a conceptual framework and review of the literature, a description of methodology, the presentation of data, and a summary with outcomes and implications. The following review of the literature speaks to the more general concepts of work and leadership. The data presentation section will include both the stories of the interviewed educational leaders and the literature regarding the more specific concepts that emerged from the interviews.

Conceptual Framework and Review of Literature

Much of the discussion about enjoyment of work is along the 'career guidance' model which suggests that to find enjoyment of work one should identify that which they already enjoy, and then pursue a related career. This study approaches enjoyment of work from a different angle. …

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