Leadership encompasses the qualities that a good leader should possess: initiating actions among people; guiding activities in a given direction; maintaining such activities; and unifying efforts towards a common goal. This study attempted to investigate the principals' decision-making competence as a correlate of crisis management in south-west Nigerian secondary schools. The paper also examines the gender influence on principals' decision-making competence. A total of 1192 teaching personnel (representing 99% of the total requested), drawn from secondary schools in the six states of south-west Nigeria, returned their questionnaires for the study. Chi-square analysis was used to measure the contribution of principals' decision-making on crisis management in the selected schools. Correlation analysis was used to measure the significant relationship between principals' decision-making competence and teaching personnel job performance in the schools, while a t-test was used to measure the gender influence. The results showed that there is a statistically significant contribution made by principals' decision-making competence within crisis management situations in south-west Nigerian secondary schools. Also, the results revealed that female principals handle crises better than male principals in this context. Among other considerations, this paper therefore recommends that training and re-training with regard to organisational conflict and conflict resolution should be organised for all school principals.
Keywords: crisis management; decision-making; Nigeria; principals; secondary schools
The post of a principal is a position that enables an individual to control, coordinate or set the patterns of behaviour for the teaching and non-teaching staff in the school. Suffice to say that the principal, whose duty is to ensure that the above-mentioned responsibilities are realised, faces a daunting task in the course of discharging or performing his/her official functions. The day-to-day administration of the school is the objective of the school principal, as is the oversight of the teachers and non-teaching staff who may or may not have direct influence in his/her decisionmaking process. Consequently, in the process of influencing the activities of the school towards goal setting and goal achievement, the principal who is the leader may unwittingly undermine the suggestions of his/her subordinates, especially his/her teachers, and hence crisis could not be ruled out in such situations arising in the course of performing official responsibilities.
Biersdorff (2001) opines that there is a need in every organisation for a force with legitimate, traditional authority to direct and control or coordinate the human resources, who in turn make use of the physical, material and financial resources so that organisational goals can be achieved. And the principal's situation is no exception in this regard, although the principal's discretion is directly or indirectly conditioned by a centrally prepared curriculum, planned or pre-established budget or other factors. The fact is that there are desired goals for the school principal to strive to achieve and the modalities to achieve such goals have been set and handed down to him/her. The principal's leadership initiatives as well as his/her intellect will combine effectively with other qualities which include decision-making competence, not only to achieve such desired goals but also to manage effectively the crisis that may arise or occur in the course of accomplishing this Herculean task.
The decision-making competence of a school principal will depend to a large extent on the leadership qualities exhibited by such a principal/ For instance, a charismatic leader, who is sometimes referred to as a symbolic leader, is an individual who possesses an exceptional quality which he/she implants on willing followers. …