Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Traits Possessed by Principals Who Transform School Culture in National Blue Ribbon Schools

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Traits Possessed by Principals Who Transform School Culture in National Blue Ribbon Schools

Article excerpt


The ability of a principal to lead the students of the new millennia is based on his or her ability to set goals of excellence for teachers, students, staff and themselves. The principal must be the catalyst for enhancing and transforming the culture of the school in a positive and progressive manner thereby improving student learning. The purpose of this study was to identify common personal and professional qualities as well as strategies of a successful principals who lead National Blue Ribbon Schools in a Southern State. Data from this study may be used to inform administrators and aspiring administrators of common qualities and characteristics present in highly effective principals. The principal sets the tone and creates the culture for which teaching and learning takes place. If the principal is thoroughly analyzing, implementing, and evaluating the academic and social culture of his or her school they become better positioned to positively impact student achievement.


Transformational Leadership

Burns (2003) contends that leaders in conjunction with the individuals that follow them create a symbiotic relationship that produces positive and significant heights of institutional morale and motivation. Burns believed that true transformational leaders lead by example and have the ability to articulate the goals of the organization which promotes a sense of excitement and moral obligation from the followers (Burns, 2003).

Burns (2003) further asserted that through this positive cultural change the leader will motivate his or her followers to produce greater results as a result of the cultural environment being conducive for collaborative networking, mutual respect, and mentoring. Principals who possess these traits and many others are usually successful transformational leaders who produce improved student outcomes. Burns (1978) defined transformational leadership as one that elevates, mobilizes, inspires, and uplifts followers. He stated that by satisfying subordinates' needs and wants, leaders exert influence on their followers. Bass (1985) described transformational leaders as important agents of change. This leadership style has been defined based on its effects, transforming the values and priorities of followers and motivating them to perform beyond their expectations (Kark & Van Dijk, 2007; Yukl, 1998). Northouse (1998) described it as a process that changes and transforms individuals.

Howell and Avolio (1993) noted that transformational leaders have a vision for the organization and they project that vision onto the members of the organization. "The overriding element of successful leadership is to involve people in the process of leading" (Horan, 1999, p. 21). Transformational leadership is about getting everyone involved in the decision-making. A defining factor of transformational leadership is that importance is placed on taking risks and creatively solving problems through the solicitation of group members (Bass, Avolio, Jung, & Berson, 1989). Transformational leaders are not constrained by the boundaries or rules of an organization, but rather change or align the organization to accommodate their vision (Howell & Avolio, 1993).

Transformational Leadership theories contain the following five common leader characteristics: creative, interactive, visionary, empowering, and passionate (Hackman & Johnson, 2000). Kouzes and Posner (2002) listed five practices of exemplary leaders: model the way (interactive), inspire a shared vision (visionary), challenge the process (creative), enable others to act (empowering), and encourage the heart (passionate) (Rowland, 2008). Other researchers have paralleled those thoughts with the described characteristics of transformational leaders: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Bass, 1985; Bass & Avolio, 1993; Howell & Avolio, 1993; Sivanathan & Fekken, 2002). …

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