Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Attributes of School Leaders towards Achieving Sustainable Leadership: A Factor Analysis

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Attributes of School Leaders towards Achieving Sustainable Leadership: A Factor Analysis

Article excerpt


A principal plays a very important role in deciding the direction and success of a school. Whether a school is dynamic is dependent upon the skills and abilities of the principal. In order to be excellent, the principal must be in possession of an excellent character. Therefore, the selection and promotion of school principals should be conducted through a meticulous and objective procedure. The entire process must be reviewed in order to ensure the quality and high standard of national education. Selection according to seniority or competency in work performance through evaluation of management and administrative skills, which is the current practice, may not be suitable for the enhancement of the leadership of principals. This study was conducted to identify and affirm the conceptual framework and attributes of school leaders (principals) needed to achieve leadership sustainability and school excellence. The exploratory factor analysis method was employed for the purpose of this study and was implemented in three stages. The sample population comprised primary and secondary school teachers. Through this study, it was found that there were five important traits or attributes which a school leader or principal must possess in order to make a school excellent. These five attributes are: (i) integrity, which has the sub-attributes of being principled and humble; (ii) forward looking, which has the sub-attributes of strategic catalyst and mind motivator; (iii) inspirational, which has the sub-attributes of supportive and influential; (iv) competent, which has the sub-attributes of task competency (there are two components, namely, action-oriented and sociability as well as emotional and spiritual competency); and (vi) self-efficacy.

Keywords: leadership, attributes of school leaders, factor analysis

1. Introduction

Since the middle of the 20th century, the concept of leadership has been widely researched. More than 350 definitions of leadership have been stated (George & Jones, 2000) and thousands of empirical researches have been conducted with regard to leadership. However, this concept is still surrounded by ambiguity and it is difficult to distinguish between leaders and non-leaders as well as between effective and ineffective leaders. The definitions of leadership which have been provided mostly involve the aspect of influence, namely, the process whereby a leader influences followers or subordinates to achieve organisational objectives; the process of heading an organisation to achieve organisational objectives; the characteristics of leaders; and leaders as agents of change. There is no universal consensus on the definition of leadership.

According to Dessler (1998), among the characteristics which distinguish between leaders and followers are that leaders:

i. Are more ambitious than followers;

ii. Are prepared to shoulder the responsibilities of an organisation;

iii. Possess honesty and integrity;

iv. Possess a high level of confidence in making decisions and are able to convince others;

v. Determine which mechanisms are suitable for reaching organisational objectives and make the best decisions for organisational excellence; and

vi. Possess knowledge and skills in the area assigned to them.

In general, a successful organisation has three main components, namely, structure, followers and leaders. Each component plays a role in determining the objectives and success of an organisation. The structure of an organisation provides the direction of the organisation and is the basis upon which interaction and communication could take place. The followers of an organisation respond to the structure and leader. The leader is the one who determines the effectiveness of an organisation by using their characteristics and skills to find the best method to perform an assigned task.

Leadership is a main indicator in determining the success of an organisation. …

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