THE VOICE OF PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP:
THE TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
David Amador Roman
Professor Robert Monson, Sponsor
Professor James Langlois
Approved by the Committee on the Degree of Doctor of Education
Date MAY I 8 2009
Submitted in partial fulfillment of
the requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Education
in Teachers College, Columbia University
UMI Number: 3368415
Copyright 2009 by
Roman, David Amador
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THE VOICE OF PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP:
THE TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
David Amador Roman
A qualitative case study was conducted over 6 months, from July 2008 through
December 2008, to research transformational leadership within two elementary schools
consisting of 2 principals and 10 teachers (5 from each principal's school) located in the
Central School District in the State of New Jersey. This study was not concerned with
evaluating principals; rather, its purpose was to analyze the perceived effects of a
principal's transformational leadership practices, both positive and negative, on five
specific school conditions to determine what is needed to lead schools effectively toward
Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) describe transformational leadership behaviors as
having six dimensions: (1) building school vision and goals, (2) providing intellectual
stimulation, (3) offering individual support, (4) symbolizing professional practices and
values, (5) demonstrating high performance expectations, and (6) developing structures to
foster participation in school decisions (p. 114). This study focused on two specific
transformational leadership practices: (1) building school vision and goals; and
(2) offering individual support. In addition, it focused on five school conditions through
which leadership can positively influence school improvement: (1) purpose and goals;
(2) school planning; (3) organizational culture; (4) structure and organization; and
(5) information and decision-making (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000, pp. 115-116). Data
collection consisted of principal and teacher interviews, archival documents, and
principal observations. The analysis revealed possible similarities, emerging themes, and
patterns in the perceptions of both elementary principals' leadership practices. The
predominant leadership attributes found in this study can be characterized according to
three major themes: (1) effective communication skills; (2) developing a culture of trust;
and (3) modeling desired behavioral practices. The three themes were germane to
Leithwood and Jantzi's (1995, 1999, 2000) studies conducted on transformational
THE VOICE OF PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP:
THE TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
David Amador Roman
Professor Robert Monson, Sponsor
Professor James Langlois
Approved by the Committee on the Degree of Doctor of Education
Date MAY 1 8 20M
Submitted in partial fulfillment of
the requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Education
in Teachers College, Columbia University
/ dedicate this doctorate to my beautiful and gentle wife Laura, "The Love of My Life "
and to our two beautiful sons, Nicolas (Bear) and Cristian (Skipper),
as well as to my loving parents.
To those that stumble upon these words, please be reminded of what individuals
can come to realize if they focus their mind on creating realities from their dreams and
ambitions. Clearly, the unimaginable is achievable. Dr. Monson, Dr. Langlois, and
Dr. Riehl, thank you for all of your support and guidance towards the middle and end of
this journey. Dr. Smith, Dr. Sobol, and Dr. Orr, thank you for all of your support and
guidance at the beginning of this journey. Dr. Oldham and Dr. Keller, thank you for your
support as I concluded this journey. I am grateful to each and every one of you for your
generosity, support, kindness, patience, and friendship throughout the years.
To my beautiful and gentle wife Laura, I thank you for the words you whisper to
me in moments of happiness and triumph, as well as for the words of comfort that you
have whispered to me in times of sorrow and despair. Like everything that we have
achieved throughout the years, we have also accomplished this moment together. It is
solely due to your efforts that our house is a home. You have continually nurtured our
family with your embraces. Your warmth and love have helped to shape the best part of
my life. Our love, commitment, bond, friendship, and marriage are nestled deep within
my soul. The beauty of who you are as well as who you have become captivates my life.
To my beautiful boys, Nicolas (Bear) and Cristian (Skipper), thank you for being
my sons. Always be mindful of how much I love you both. I am truly humbled and
honored to be your father. I thank you for your playfulness. I am a better man because of
the both of you. I ask that as you grow into great men, you create your own destiny and
happiness. I ask that you search for your purpose in life. I ask that you find your road and
follow the path that leads you to inner peace, love, and joy. I ask that you contribute to
your loved ones, contribute to the world, and contribute to your own development.
Accomplish many great endings, but always keep your eye on the present and on the
future. The destination is of less importance than the journey. The journey is what brings
you deep and rewarding happiness. This is the one true thing that I can say with complete
To my mother, your strength carried me through moments of struggle. Your love
and support encouraged me through my childhood hours and they continue to guide me
till this day. Thank you for the gift of intellectual curiosity that you bestowed upon me.
To my father, gentle soul that you are. Respect and maturity from childhood to manhood
are not easily attainable in life, unless modeled by those you admire. Thank you for the
gift of spirituality you have bestowed upon me. To my grandparents (Margarita, Hipolito,
Dominga, and Juan Sr.), I love you and remember you from this earth to the heavens
above. Anita and Joseph, I thank you for your love and for always supporting me. To my
brother Walter and my sister Theresa, you are forever in my heart. Alexandra, Andres,
Brian, Christopher, Deanna, Dylan, Christina, Sean, Victoria, and to any of our family's
unborn children, share your dreams with the world.
It is now time for me to move on to my next quest. Be well! Peace, Love, Joy,
D. A. R.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I INTRODUCTION 1
Defining "Transformational Leadership" 3
Purpose of the Study 4
Objectives of the Study 10
Research Questions 11
Theoretical Framework of the Study 12
Overview of Methodological Design 14
Methodological Design 15
Participant Selection 15
District Selection 16
Researcher's Role in Conducting Study 18
Data Collection 19
Data Analysis 20
Limitations of the Study 22
Significance of the Study 23
II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 26
Definition of Transformational Leadership 28
Historical Roots 30
Reviewing the Meaning of Educational Leadership 33
Leadership Impact on Student Engagement 37
Leadership Impact on Organizational Conditions 38
Leadership Impact on Teachers 43
Transactional Leadership 47
Analysis of Studies on Transformational Leadership 49
III METHODOLOGY 57
Research Design 57
Pilot Studies 58
Principal Leadership Practices 58
Leadership Theory 59
Methodological Design 61
Description of Design 61
Significance of Location in Conducting Study 62
III Principal Participants 63
(cont) Teacher Participants 64
Consent Procedures/Confidentiality 67
Data Collection 69
Collection of Data: Multiple Case Field Study 69
Interview Procedures 70
Archival Data 76
Observation of Principals 78
Data Analysis 80
Analysis of Interviews 80
Analysis of Archival Documents 86
Analysis of Observations 89
Validity Threats to Research 93
Researcher's Bias and Reactivity 94
Significance of Study 98
IV FINDINGS 101
Archival Documents 103
Observations of Principals 104
Principal A 105
Principal A Teachers 141
Summary of Findings-Principal A School 163
Principal B 175
Principal B Teachers 207
Summary of Findings-Principal B School 225
Superintendent Interview on Principal Leadership 237
Cross-Case Findings-Principal A School and Principal B School 244
V SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS, DISCUSSION, AND
Research Questions 261
Research Question # 1 261
Research Question # 2 265
Research Question # 3 269
Cross-Case Analysis and Discussion - Principal A School and
Principal B School 274
Transformational Leadership—Effect on School Conditions 274
Effective Communication Skills 276
Developing a Culture of Trust 282
Modeling Desired Behavioral Practices 287
Discussion of the Results from Cross-Case Analysis 292
Recommendations for Future Research 302
Future Research 302
Reflection of Findings—Related to Professional Practices 305
Final Thoughts 308
A Principal Interview Protocol 315
B Teacher Interview Protocol 322
C Preliminary List of Etic Codes 329
D Preliminary List of Emic Codes 330
E Principal Observation Protocol 331
F Preliminary List of Inductive Codes 334
G Preliminary List of Deductive Codes 335
H Invitation to Participants 336
I Protection of Human Subjects in Research—Application 337
J IRB for Interviewed Principals and Teachers 339
LIST OF TABLES
1 Corresponding Characteristics—Transformational Leadership 32
2 Archival Data Storage System—Information Collected 87
LIST OF FIGURES
1 Conceptual Diagram—Purpose of Study 6
2 Conceptual Design of the Study—Transformational Leadership 60
3 Core of Transformational Leadership Practices—Influence on School
Schools are continually being challenged to achieve higher standards of academic
excellence, and educational leaders are expected to be at the forefront of most school
improvement initiatives (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000). Therefore, it is necessary to identify
the significant leadership practices and characteristics that principals display in school
settings to focus on improving school conditions and increasing student achievement as
ultimate goals. The goal of this study was to uncover if principals are perceived as
affecting school conditions through their leadership practices. The direct involvement of
the principal's leadership leads to the actualization of greater advancements in the areas
of teacher engagement, student engagement, and school conditions (Bolman & Deal,
1991; Fullan, 1991; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Sergiovanni, 1995; Silins et al.,
2002). Additionally, state and federal regulations mandate that schools improve student
test scores annually. For example, federal regulations signed into law by President George
W. Bush in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 require all schools to make adequate
yearly progress regarding students' test scores. Thus, principals need to balance both
internal school responsibilities and imposed external obligations from outside the school.
Leadership is complex and multifaceted (Barnett et al., 2001; Hallinger & Heck,
1996; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000; Marks & Printy, 2003; Sergiovanni, 1995; Silins et al.,
2002). A multitude of assumptions have been posed about which leadership skills are
needed to effectively improve schools (Barnett et al., 2001; Bass & Avolio, 1994; Bums,
1978; Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Marks & Printy, 2003).
Investigating what leadership looks like, through principal and teacher perceptions, is an
essential component of understanding how leadership affects school conditions.
Considerable research has been conducted on effective leadership practices, but
little is known about how the leadership behaviors of principals in school settings are
perceived by principals and teachers (Barnett et al., 2001; Hallinger & Heck, 1996;
Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Marks & Printy, 2003; Silins et al., 2002). This study
attempted to fill a gap in the research by investigating how principals' leadership
practices were perceived within school settings. Specifically, the leadership practices of
two elementary principals were investigated to determine if those principals displayed
qualities associated with transformational leadership practices. Research has identified
that transformational leaders can directly influence organizational conditions by
encouraging teachers to work collaboratively and change their practices and by
supporting them in making an extra effort to improve their schools (Geijsel & Sleegers,
1999; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000, 2005; Marks & Printy, 2003).
Research also indicates that principal behavior directly impacts teacher
commitment, teacher engagement, and organizational changes that occur within schools
(Geijsel, Leithwood, Jantzi, & Sleegers, 2003; Ingram, 1997). Exploring the behaviors
that principals display in school settings offers an opportunity to understand how both
teachers and principals perceive that leadership practices affect school quality. Principal
and teacher perceptions can be used to substantiate if a relationship exists between
leadership practices and school conditions, as well as to contrast how specific leadership
qualities are characterized. Research into the leadership practices of principals will
provide one more dimension to understanding ways to develop high-quality leaders.
Chapter I gives a definition of transformational leadership as it was used in this
study. The next section establishes the purpose of the study, its rationale, and the need to
uncover significant attributes of transformational leadership as it relates to elementary
principals. Following is a description of the objectives of this study and the three specific
areas investigated. The subsequent section outlines the research questions which seek to
understand the attributes ascribed to transformational leadership practices (Leithwood &
Jantzi, 1996, 2000, 2005). Finally, the theoretical framework is discussed in terms of the
effects of transformational leadership practices on school conditions. The chapter
concludes with an overview of the methods that were used to investigate transformational
Defining "Transformational Leadership "
Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) definition of transformational leadership, which
guided this study, refers to leaders who are able to cultivate in followers the capacity to
develop a personal commitment to accomplishing common organizational goals (p. 113).
In the school setting, individuals who demonstrate transformational leadership are able to
affect school conditions by their behavior practices (pp. 113-115). Leithwood and Jantzi
(2000) describe transformational leadership behaviors as having six dimensions:
(1) building school vision and goals; (2) providing intellectual stimulation; (3) offering
individual support; (4) symbolizing professional practices and values; (5) demonstrating
high performance expectations; and, (6) developing structures to foster participation in
school decisions (p. 114). By isolating the leadership practice dimensions, associated with
these, it will be possible to come to a more realistic understanding of how leadership is
conveyed and implemented by principals in school settings. Although a number of
different definitions of transformational leadership are available (Barnett et al., 2001;
Bass & Avolio, 1994; Burns, 1978; Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999,
2000; Marks & Printy, 2003), Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) definition of
transformational leadership was used because it provides the clearest description of what
to look for in the leadership practices of principals.
Purpose of the Study
More research is needed to understand how exemplary leadership is perceived in
practice in order to develop high-quality leaders. These perceptions will help to identify
the essential characteristics leaders demonstrate within the work setting, i.e., the school.
In turn, by identifying the critical practices and characteristics that are attributed to
transformational leadership, leaders can become better prepared to initiate school reform.
It is important to determine how abstract theories such as transformational leadership can
impact teachers in school settings through the principals' behaviors. This may guide
individuals who aspire to become leaders to implement successful reform initiatives that
can effect positive changes within schools.
The purpose of this study was to explore what kinds of transformational
leadership behaviors principals may exhibit in their daily interactions with teachers. One
objective was to establish if the principals' observed behaviors can be described as
transformational. This was enhanced by exploring how both principals and teachers
perceived the leadership practices. As a result, the study could determine if the principals
were consciously practicing these behaviors, if they were endeavoring to effect
transformation within their schools, and if so, what levels of transformational leadership
Figure 1. Conceptual Diagram—Purpose of Study
Derived from the Model of Transformational Leadership
that was developed by the researcher
This Study Sought to Verify If Principals and Teachers Perceive That.
Does Practicing These Two Components of Transformational
Leadership Have Any Impact on the Development of Five
*This study responded to the need to understand the nature and quality of leadership by
uncovering the essential attributes associated with transformational leadership practices.
*The nature and strength of the relationship between teachers and leaders must be
understood if one hopes to improve school conditions through transformational
*The process of improving schools can best be strengthened by attaining a diverse
conceptualization of educational leadership.
This study also attempted to determine if the perceptions of principals and
teachers can be used as a tool to identify whether the transformational leadership
practices of principals impact school conditions. If the perceptions of principals and
teachers align or agree with the idea of how a principal is effective, then it may be
possible to link that consensus to the degree to which principals impact school conditions.
Finally, this study examined whether two specific transformational leadership
traits were evident in the daily practices and behaviors of two individual elementary
school principals. This inquiry explored the notion of leadership using Leithwood and
Jantzi's (2000) conceptual framework to define and describe those two specific
transformational leadership dimensions: (1) building school vision and goals, and
(2) offering individual support. Their concept of leaders as embodying specific practices
and consisting of varied leadership dimensions offered a clear and practical definition of
transformational leadership for this study.
Only two leadership dimensions (building school vision and goals, and offering
individual support) were chosen out of the six because they are most often seen as
influencing school conditions (Barnett et al., 2001; Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood
& Jantzi, 2000; Marks & Printy, 2003; Silins et al., 2002). Research indicates that
building school vision and goals and offering support were significant leadership
dimensions typifying successful transformational school leaders (Leithwood et al., 1996).
The relevant literature repeatedly concludes that these two specific attributes reflect a
transformational leader's practices (Barnett et al., 2001; Bass & Avolio, 1994; Burns,
1978; Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Marks & Printy, 2003).
The traits linked to the six dimensions of transformational leadership, outlined
previously, have been identified as behaviors that can positively impact school conditions
when displayed by individuals in leadership roles. The five school conditions are:
(1) purpose and goals; (2) school planning; (3) organizational culture; (4) structure and
organization; and (5) information and decision-making (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000).
Based on these items, the intent of the study was to establish how teachers and principals
perceived that the two leadership dimensions (building school vision and goals, and
offering individual support) intersected with the five conditions.
The terms "Principal A" and "Principal B" from a "Central School District" were
used to identify the two elementary principals and the individual district and schools in
which they worked. These principals were selected by the district's superintendent
because he believed they best demonstrated transformational leadership practices
according to the framework defined by Leithwood and Jantzi (2000). This study
examined if Principal A, Principal B, and their teaching staff perceived the principal
leadership practices displayed within their particular schools as attributes that supported
positive school conditions to exist in the school environment.
Once selected, both elementary principals granted me permission to discuss their
leadership traits with the superintendent. I also discussed Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000)
concept of transformational leadership with the superintendent. This was done to identify
exactly what dimensions of leadership the superintendent believed both principals
demonstrated within the confines of the Central School District. The superintendent
asserted that he had conducted informal and formal observations of each principal
throughout the past 18 months during site visits to each of the two schools, observed
meetings conducted by each principal with their staff, and examined written minutes and
staff correspondence obtained from each principal's meetings.
The superintendent cited examples of why he believed these two principals best
personified transformational leadership practices on a daily basis. He provided evidence
to support that each principal displayed qualities which could be linked to
transformational leadership practices, as described by Leithwood and Jantzi (2002). He
also stated how each principal demonstrated traits in the school that offered support for
the staff. Specifically, both principals established a school vision which could support the
goals they sought to obtain in their schools. The superintendent also affirmed that each
principal appeared to have staff which supported the implementation of quite a few
initiatives. In short, the qualities ascribed to each principal by the superintendent
demonstrated the possibility that transformational leadership practices may be found in
the behavior of each principal.
As the researcher, I wanted to determine if these two principals displayed
transformational leadership behavior in action, not solely in theory. I had already
observed each principal informally at district-level meetings and noted how both
principals appeared to display characteristics that could be identified with
transformational leadership practices. At these meetings, the principals cited examples of
how their staff received opportunities to be involved in a decision-making process on the
way a program in their school should function. The programs, developed with staff input,
seemed to have had a direct and positive effect on the school.
The rationale for conducting this field study, then, was that it offered me the
advantage of observing how a principal's leadership practices were perceived within the
setting in which the behavior was occurring. As Babbie (1995) states, "direct observation
in the field lets you observe events that might not be anticipated or measured otherwise"
(p. 283). A qualitative field study approach offers the opportunity to gather information
from within the school setting so that a better understanding of the phenomena being
investigated can be observed naturally by a researcher (Anderson et al., 1994; Babbie,
1995; Stake, 1995).
Objectives of the Study
Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) state that "transformational leadership may well be a
productive antidote to the stifling effects of excessive organizational constraint" (p. 20).
This research attempted to discover what primary leadership traits were perceived as
being needed, by both principals and teachers, to successfully improve organizational
conditions in schools. This study sought to determine what array of practices displayed by
principals could be attributed to the qualities associated with transformational leadership
practices. The objectives of this study were as follows:
1. document the observable leadership practices of sampled principals, focusing
on two dimensions of transformational leadership: (1) building school vision
and goals, and (2) offering individual support to teachers (Leithwood & Jantzi,
2. identify and describe principals' and teachers' perceptions of the attributes of
two transformational leadership dimensions demonstrated by the leadership
practices of sampled principals (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000); and
3. explore the relationship between perceived and observed leadership practices
and the five school conditions that are components of school improvement.
The five school conditions are: (1) purpose and goals, (2) school planning, (3)
organizational culture, (4) structure and organization, and (5) information and
decision-making (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000).
Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) state, "While there is considerable agreement about
the core meaning of transformational leadership, researchers vary on the nature and
number of specific leadership dimensions or behaviors they choose to study" (p. 178).
The research questions were developed to identify patterns that could contribute to the
areas of interest outlined in this study. This study sought to answer the following research
1. In what ways, if any, do principals perceive that they build school vision and
goals and offer individual support to teachers? (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000)
2. In what ways, if any, do teachers perceive that principals demonstrate these
two transformational leadership practices within the school setting?
(Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000, 2005)
3. If teachers perceive that their principals use these two transformational
leadership practices, in what ways, if any, have the five school conditions
(purpose and goals, school planning, organizational culture, structure and
organization, and information and decision-making) been affected by the
behaviors of principals? Do teachers perceive that these transformational
leadership practices influence any of the five school conditions? (Leithwood
& Jantzi, 2000, 2005; Silins et al., 2002)
Theoretical Framework of the Study
The following brief summary of the literature provides different perspectives
relevant to transformational leadership practices. The intent of this overview is to provide
a clearer definition and a richer description of how transformational leadership is
generally understood. In this section, only brief summaries of the key researchers' work
are provided. A fuller discussion of the literature is presented in Chapter II.
Burns (1978) indicates that transformational leaders are able to inspire individuals
to achieve higher goals and that a leader demonstrates behavior that encourages others to
develop a common purpose. His research suggests the necessity of examining how
leaders and followers interact with one another.
Bass and Avolio (1994) identified four main elements of transformational
leadership as follows: (1) leaders have the ability to be role models for their followers;
(2) leaders are able to motivate and inspire their followers by providing meaning and
challenge for them daily; (3) leaders have the ability to stimulate their followers' efforts
to become more innovative and creative; and (4) leaders pay special attention to each
individual's needs for achievement and growth.
Barnett et al.'s (2001) description of transformational leadership was based
loosely on Bass and Avolio's (1994) work. They considered that a connection between
transformational leadership and transactional leadership is necessary when exploring the
behaviors of school principals. Barnett et al. (2001) also identified the features of
transformational leadership as an individual's concern and vision/inspiration. By contrast,
the attributes of transactional leadership are described as a leader's active management
(proactive leadership) role in conjunction with a passive management (reactive
leadership) by exception role.
Marks and Printy (2003) assert that transformational leaders have the ability to
influence followers to develop to their greatest potential. They also indicate that
transformational leaders encourage followers to value the good of the organization rather
than furthering their own interest. Their description focused on two aspects of leadership,
identified as transformational leadership and instructional leadership.
Silins et al. (2002) explored the relationships among school leaders,
organizational learning, and student outcomes. Their focus was to identify principals'
transformational leadership characteristics and to review the various effects of these
characteristics on organizational change in order to determine how they impact
organizational learning at all levels.
This inquiry into leadership traits was initiated by reviewing Leithwood and
Jantzi's (2000) empirical research on transformational leadership and its impact on
organizational conditions and teacher engagement. The intent was to obtain a better
understanding of how transformational school leadership is perceived within schools. The
major steps in Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) study consisted of developing a framework
that could identify different forms and sources of leadership (p. 114). Leithwood and
Jantzi's (2000, 2005) research supports the assertion that the behaviors affixed to the six
dimensions of transformational leadership practices need further investigation.
I directly corresponded with Kenneth Leithwood, one of the prominent researchers
in the field of transformational leadership. The main ideas and themes that emerged from
this discourse, as well as from the review of the literature, suggest that traits linked to
transformational leadership practices can be essential in instituting successful school
reform initiatives. An inquiry into an individual's leadership practices may disclose how
that person is perceived as a leader. As Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) state
"Transformational leadership is an extremely popular image of ideal practice in schools at
the present time (Hallinger, 2003)" (p. 178).
Leithwood and Jantzi's (1999, 2000) research found that transformational
leadership could have a direct impact on school conditions. They concluded that
transformational leaders should monitor the particular aspects of school conditions that
can be considerably enhanced by transformational leadership practices. In this study, it
was necessary to determine how many of the five school conditions identified by
Leithwood and Jantzi (1999, 2000) were present when exploring the effect of leadership
on school improvement.
Overview of Methodological Design
This section provides the rationale for using a qualitative field study approach to
investigate the leadership behaviors of two elementary principals. It describes the
selection of the participants, the rationale for choosing the study site, and a clarification
of my role as researcher in the study. Next presented are the purpose and method of
collecting and analyzing the data. Finally, the limitations and significance of this field
study are described. Chapter III provides a more detailed analysis of the methodological
constructs of this study's research design.
A qualitative field study approach was chosen because it offers an array of
opportunities that might not otherwise be possible. Babbie (1995) states that "field
research offers the advantage of probing social life in its natural habitat" (p. 283). The
benefit of utilizing a qualitative field study methodology has been supported through
empirical research (Anderson et al., 1994; Anderson & Jones, 2000; Babbie, 1995;
Creswell, 1998; Hedrick et al., 1993; Maxwell, 1996, 2005; Stake, 1995; Strauss, 1987;
Yin, 1993). A field study approach was thought to enhance this study by offering an
authentic and descriptive analysis of the research under review as it occurs in its natural
setting (Anderson et al., 1994; Anderson & Jones, 2000; Babbie, 1995; Maxwell, 1996;
Stake, 1995; Yin, 1993).
In this research, I studied two elementary principals, employed within two
different elementary schools in one school district, in order to explore how principals'
transformational leadership practices were related to school conditions. Both schools are
located in the State of New Jersey. The two selected principals (Principal A and Principal
B) have been employed in the Central School District for several years. I approached the
superintendent for approval to allow these two principals to be participants in the study.
The superintendent granted permission to conduct this study within his school district.
Both principals agreed to allow me to speak with the superintendent about their
individual leadership practices.
To enhance the life histories of these principals and gather support for how a
principal's leadership is believed to impact school conditions, teachers' perceptions were
also captured. With approval from each principal, a random sample of teachers from each
elementary school's staff was selected to be part of this research (Babbie, 1995; Maxwell,
1996, 2005; Miles & Huberman, 1994). This approach to sampling allowed every teacher
an equal opportunity to be involved in this study. Selecting a sample of participants from
the entire school included in the study a wide range of variation from among the staff.
This ensured that the participants reflected the entire range of staff employed in each
elementary school building (Maxwell, 1996, 2005).
The Central School District was selected for this study because the superintendent
indicated his belief that effective leadership is needed to facilitate the mandates of federal
regulations of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which require that schools make
adequate yearly progress on students' test scores. The Central School District is involved
in several statewide initiatives. This school district's student body is comprised of an
ethnically-diverse population. The superintendent indicated that he remains concerned
with ensuring that a skilled leadership is in place in all of the schools in this district. His
goal is to address state initiatives successfully and ensure that the district attends to the
needs of its growing diverse student population. The superintendent also indicated that a
lack of competent leadership could result in the school district not meeting the necessary
academic requirements currently mandated by the New Jersey State Department of
The selection of two elementary schools as the site of this study was also directly
related to three other areas of interest. The first was that I as researcher did not clearly
understand how a principal's leadership was perceived within elementary schools or, for
that matter, how teachers and principals behaved in elementary schools. Second, I have
never worked in an elementary school, but have spent most of my career in high school
and middle school. Working at the elementary level would eliminate any biases that may
interfere with the study because of my high school and middle school experiences.
Finally, the superintendent and the township's board of education indicated that they
believe that effective principal leadership is needed in several of the school buildings to
improve school conditions.
This particular school district was selected because I sought to investigate if the
leadership in this district had the potential to have a positive effect on school conditions.
Another intention of utilizing this location for this research was that it offered the
opportunity to possibly assist this school district in understanding effective
transformational leadership practices. I was particularly interested in determining what
school conditions were necessary for leaders to keep students involved in the educational
process so that neither teachers nor students felt disengaged from the school community. I
intended to gather a holistic view of leadership by obtaining an understanding of principal
Researcher's Role in Conducting Study
While conducting research within a field setting in which I also worked, it became
clear that the situation might be a possible threat to the validity of the study (Anderson et
al., 1994; Babbie, 1995). However, it was also noted that conducting research within
one's own district offered several advantages. Anderson et al. (1994) indicate that
conducting a study from within the same setting in which one works "has great potential
for challenging, conforming, and extending current theory and for identifying new
dimensions of administrative practice for study" (p. 430). Babbie (1995) states that "By
going directly to the social phenomenon under study and observing it as completely as
possible, you can develop a deeper and fuller understanding of it" (p. 281). Anderson and
Jones (2000) add that studies conducted by individuals working within a familiar setting
"can contribute to a knowledge base in the field of educational administration that is not
only better grounded in the complexities of administrator's work, but also better reflects
the kinds of concerns and dilemmas that administrators struggle with (Lytle, 1996)" (p.
Any bias which might indirectly occur due to my involvement in the study needed
to be planned for prior to conducting the study (Anderson et al., 1994; Babbie, 1995;
Hedrick et al., 1993; Stake, 1995). Maxwell (1996) states that "what you want is a
relationship that enables you to ethically learn the things you need to learn in order to
validly answer your research questions" (p. 66).
Chapter III describes how I prepared for any possible validity threats that might
have occurred because I was the primary investigator of a qualitative field study in a
district in which I worked. The chapter outlines concerns associated with researcher bias
and reactivity, descriptive validity, interpretive validity, and theoretical validity.
This field study was oriented toward establishing multiple sources of evidence
from principals and teachers working within two different school environments. The
purpose of collecting these data was to describe the "real-life context" of a principal's
transformational leadership practices in its "natural setting" to determine how leadership
was perceived (Yin, 1994). Stake (1995) advises that when conducting a qualitative
study, it is necessary to "try not to disturb the ordinary activity of the case" so that the
obtained information can be inclusive of "the multiple realities, the different and even
contradictory views of what is happening" (p. 12).
Archival data such as minutes from meetings were collected and reviewed from
each school. Information was also collected by conducting direct observations of
principals in a variety of leadership scenarios throughout the day. The intent was to
disclose the qualities of effective transformational leadership practices in action as well as
to better understand how a principal's individual leadership role was perceived. Thus,
data were also collected via interviews with the two principals and their sampled teaching
staff. The purpose here was to gather different perspectives of how the leadership
practices of the principals were perceived to occur within each elementary school.
Conducting a field study of the two principals and their staff ensured a comfortable and
natural setting from which to collect information (Creswell, 1998; Hedrick et al., 1993;
Miles & Huberman, 1994; Yin, 1993, 1994).
The data gathered from school documents, principal observations, and principal
and teacher interviews were analyzed by comparing and contrasting them and juxtaposing
these findings with the literature reviewed (Babbie, 1995; Creswell, 1998; Hedrick et al.,
1993; Maxwell, 1996, 2005; Miles & Huberman, 1994; Rubin & Rubin, 2005; Seidman,
2006; Stake, 1995; Yin, 1993, 1994). These data were analyzed for frequencies pertaining
to how each principal displayed leadership practices that were linked to the school's
vision, goals, and support for teachers. This information was compared and contrasted to
determine how a principal's behavior practices affected five school conditions.
The data collected were sorted and tallied into categories to search for meanings
and look for patterns which could identify the behavior practices of each principal (Stake,
1995). Babbie (1995) states that an important initial task of field research "is to create a
classification of behaviors" and to also "develop theories, or generalized findings, over
the course of your observations" (p. 296). Principal leadership practices were sorted by
each leadership dimension to compare, describe, and define how they impacted the five
school conditions. The intent was to establish a categorization of each principal's
behavior practices so that Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) theory on transformational
leadership could be confirmed or denied from the findings obtained from the data
Collecting archival information and conducting observations and interviews are
data theory-generating activities (Yin, 1994). Data were collected with the understanding
that the study might need modification as the inquiry evolved (Babbie, 1995; Maxwell,
1996, 2005; Stake, 1995; Yin, 1993, 1994). Babbie (1995) indicates that field researchers
"can continually modify the research design as indicated by the observations, the
developing theoretical perspectives, or changes in what he or she is studying" (p. 297).
He adds that "Introspection—examining your own thoughts and feelings—is natural and
crucial process for understanding what you observe" (p. 297).
Specific questions were designed to elicit descriptive responses from each
participant. As Babbie (1995) states, "Although you may set out to conduct interviews
with a pretty clear idea of what you want to ask, one of the special strengths of field
research is its flexibility in the field" (p. 290). Accordingly, the design of this study
allowed for the opportunity to reframe questions according to the respondents' answers as
the study progressed.
I interpreted the meaning of what was presented from the participants by asking
them to recall past experiences. Probes were used to help participants reflect deeply on
the questions being asked (Stake, 1995; Yin, 1994). This approach facilitated the
development of a theory or generalization from the answers obtained from each
participant (Creswell, 1998; Stake, 1995). Critically reflecting on each of the participants'
views about the leadership practices of their principals gave me the opportunity to reflect
on the interests, ideas, and theories that initiated from the field study.
Creswell (1998) states that when using a critical thinking methodological
approach, the researcher could "write about the assumptions behind the literary
presentation of the qualitative study" (p. 82). Thus, critically reflecting on the leadership
practices of the principals here provided a more robust analysis of the behaviors
(leadership dimensions) that the principals demonstrated within their schools (Babbie,
1995; Creswell, 1998; Stake, 1995; Yin, 1994).
Limitations of the Study
This study was primarily concerned with investigating how principals
demonstrated their ability to build school vision, establish goals, and offer individual
support to teachers. As a result, I hope to contribute a more insightful and comprehensive
understanding of the leadership practices of principals as they related to the five school
conditions considered in the study.
This study did not intend to replicate Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) full model of
transformational leadership. Additionally, this inquiry did not seek to validate or
corroborate Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) findings on transformational leadership. This
study's analysis did not determine how functional Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) model
of transformational leadership was, nor did this study reference the effectiveness or
ineffectiveness of their model.
The number of principals involved in this study did not offer a large enough
population to generalize the results to all principals. Therefore, when drawing
conclusions on what was viewed as transformational leadership practices, the limitations
of this field study also needed to be taken into consideration when interpreting and
analyzing the results.
Conducting qualitative studies involves the understanding that the research being
studied continually evolves. Questions asked of participants led me to explore new areas
given the answers (emic issues) that respondents offered. As Stake (1995) states, "Case
study seems to provide a poor basis for generalization" (p. 7). However, the collection of
data from this study offered a focal point from which to modify generalizations.
Significance of the Study
I was the sole investigator in this study. The benefit of conducting this study
within the same school district in which I was employed as a principal clearly outweighed
any potential threats that could have arisen. Because it is essential to understand all
aspects of the case one is investigating, the best way to become familiar with the case is
by being the sole investigator of that case and immersing oneself in the data (Maxwell,
1996, 2005; Stake, 1995).
This school district was ideal for conducting research on transformational
leadership because of the convenience of having unrestricted access to the participants
selected for this study. As Anderson and Jones (2000) state, "Our data suggested that a
major logistical advantage of studying one's own site was that insiders often had
privileged access to data that might not have been available to outsiders" (p. 443).
The nature and strength of the relationship between teachers and leaders must be
understood if one hopes to improve school conditions through transformational
leadership practices. To understand what is actually needed by leaders to guide schools
effectively, one must first examine the various ideas and perceptions of transformational
Collecting information on the practices of principals from within a school setting
can assist in identifying what the attributes of transformational leadership entail, as well
as how the behavior of principals are perceived to interrelate with school conditions.
Leithwood and Jantzi (2000, 2005) suggest that transformational leadership mediates an
influence on school conditions; therefore, one may presume that individuals who
consciously employ transformational leadership practices may influence school
conditions and teacher engagement within schools.
This study responded to the need to understand the nature and quality of
leadership by uncovering the essential attributes associated with transformational
leadership practices. The process of improving schools can best be strengthened by
attaining a diverse conceptualization of educational leadership. This study hoped to add to
the field of knowledge by offering new definitions of how transformational leadership
was perceived and by examining and analyzing the factors associated with effective
The challenges schools face have been essentially placed before principals to
resolve through their leadership practices. If a principal's role is to be viewed as integral
in effectuating positive change as well as supporting the development of positive
relationships, then the leadership practices of principals within a school setting must be
A significant part of enhancing school development, encouraging communication
between staff members, increasing learning opportunities, and improving school culture
is to better understand how organizational conditions are closely linked with
transformational leadership practices (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood & Jantzi,
2000, 2005; Silins et al., 2002). This may offer a greater insight into uncovering the
factors that foster and encourage leaders to improve school conditions.
Leithwood and Jantzi (1996) indicate that not much is known about "teachers'
perceptions of principals' transformational leadership" (p. 530). Identifying how a
principal's transformational leadership practices are perceived in practice will add to a
deeper understanding of leadership. Research (Matthews & Crow, 2003) acknowledges
the gaps in determining which specific organizational conditions are directly affected by
an educational leader's behavior. Conducting this research will hopefully contribute to
the literature by offering a practical understanding of what a principal's leadership is
perceived to be within schools.
As Sergiovanni (1995) states, "reflective practice is based on the reality that
professional knowledge is different from scientific knowledge" (p. 32). This present
inquiry into the leadership practices of principals, as they occurred within a school
setting, will hopefully lead to a more precise understanding of the "scientific knowledge"
needed to accurately conceptualize how the "reflective practices" of a principal impact
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
This chapter is primarily concerned with exploring the transformational leadership
practices of elementary principals to determine how they impact school conditions.
Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) identified that "a compelling body of empirical evidence
now demonstrates the significant effects of leadership on school conditions and student
learning" (p. 2). This chapter will review the relevant research surrounding the nature and
quality of effective leadership that can be used to improve school reform through a
principal's daily practices.
This review of the literature was based upon a complex set of studies surrounding
leadership. Four primary studies of transformational leadership and school and student
outcomes focusing on principal leadership between 1996 and 2003 were summarized to
provide insight into transformational leadership. The central purpose of reviewing these
four studies was to obtain a clearer perspective of how leadership can be used to address
school reform successfully. The review also identified the distinguishing attributes of
transformational leadership in an effort to clarify how individuals display successful
The main ideas and themes emerging from this research were that
transformational leaders can, in fact, have positive and long-lasting effects on school
communities. As well, transformational leadership practices can assist individuals in
becoming effective leaders. Credible and verifiable data were found to substantiate why a
correlation exists between transformational leadership practices and positive teacher
engagement within the school culture. According to the relevant studies, individuals who
displayed transformational leadership practices had a direct and positive impact on
teachers that, in turn, indirectly and positively impacted school communities (Leithwood
& Jantzi, 2000, 2005; Silins et al., 2002).
Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) definition served as the organizing structure for
examining transformational leadership in this review. A brief historical account
summarizing Bass and Avolio's (1994) and Burns's (1978) understanding of
transformational leadership offers a conceptualization of how it emerged over time as a
significant leadership style. An analysis of the corresponding characteristics of
transformational leadership (as reviewed by Barnett et al., 2001; Leithwood & Jantzi,
1996, 1999, 2000, 2005; Marks & Printy, 2003; Silins et al., 2002) summarizes the
following: (a) the meaning of educational leadership; (b) the impact of leadership on
student engagement; (c) the impact of leadership on organizational conditions; (d) the
impact of leadership on teachers; and (e) the impact of leadership on teacher outcomes. A
comparative analysis of all the studies helps to clarify and identify the varying
interpretations of transformational leadership.
In addition, to offer further insights into what transformational leaders must
understand to become talented leaders, this review includes a summary of studies on
transformative learning for organizational change. Finally, this chapter concludes with an
assessment of factors attributed to the specific behaviors that are considered to be
effective transformational leadership.
Definition of Transformational Leadership
Transformational leadership has been found to contribute to organizational
effectiveness within schools (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000, 2005; Silins et al., 2002).
Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) state that "transformational leadership may well be a
productive antidote to the stifling effects of excessive organizational constraints" (p. 20).
While many theorists and researchers (Barnett et al., 2001; Bass & Avolio, 1994; Burns,
1978; Marks & Printy, 2003) have defined transformational leadership, Leithwood and
Jantzi's (2000) definition of the term was used to structure this review because their
concept is considered the foundation of what many believe this type of leadership
Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000, 2005) analysis can be linked with results from
other studies that examined the attributes of transformational leadership practices. For
example, Burns's (1978) definition of transformational leadership included leaders
displaying behaviors that motivated others to want to follow them. Bass and Avolio
(1994) documented four attributes of transformational leadership that could be identified
through a leader's behavior. The four attributes are: (1) leader's ability to be a role model
for their followers; (2) leader's ability to motivate and inspire followers by providing
meaning and challenge for them daily; (3) leader's ability to stimulate followers' efforts
to become more innovative and creative; and (4) leader's special attention to each
individual's needs for achievement and growth.
Building on this definition, Barnett et al. (2001) identified the features of
transformational leadership as including the ability to demonstrate a concern for
individual development of a vision and to impart that sense of vision and inspiration for
others to follow. Additionally, their description of transformational leadership focused on
determining how leadership could specifically influence the level of additional effort that
Marks and Printy's (2003) definition of transformational leadership expanded the
concept by emphasizing how leaders had the ability to encourage individuals to develop
to their greatest potential. For them, transformational leaders display characteristics that
encourage individuals to value what is best for the organization rather than furthering
their own individual concerns.
Again, Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) definition serves to tie these studies
together. When describing transformational leadership, Leithwood and Jantzi (2000)
state, "This approach to leadership fundamentally aims to foster capacity development
and higher levels of personal commitment to organizational goals on the part of leaders'
colleagues" (p. 113). They highlight six dimensions of this leadership style: (1) building
school vision and goals; (2) providing intellectual stimulation; (3) offering individual
support; (4) symbolizing professional practices and values; (5) demonstrating high
performance expectations; and (6) developing structures to foster participation in school
decisions (p. 114). These dimensions help to identify the behaviors that are specifically
attributed to transformational leadership practices in the school setting. Leithwood and
Jantzi's (2000) definition of leadership, with these six specific dimensions, contribute to a
fuller picture of what effective individual leadership is believed to be. This categorization
of leadership suggests that for leaders to become successful, they must completely
embrace these six dimensions, as defined by Leithwood and Jantzi. Therefore, it is
necessary to explore whether all six dimensions are equal in importance, as this will
determine the need to prepare individuals to develop these related skills through
professional development, school culture, preparation programs, individual personalities,
and socialization experiences.
The first description of transformational leadership was posed by Burns (1978),
who drew from his work on political leadership. His ideas consisted of transforming the
ideologies of leadership to include the examination of the relationships existing between
leaders and followers. This interest in leadership guided Burns to the notion of how
leaders and followers interact with one another, which he eventually defined as
transactional and transforming. He separated these two leadership dimensions by
conceptualizing them as being either "ordinary" or "extraordinary" (p. 2). Burns defined
transactional as being ordinary leadership and transformational as being extraordinary
leadership. Transactional (ordinary) leadership is based on a relationship between the
leader and followers who conform to the leader's wishes in exchange for anticipated
rewards. Transformational (extraordinary) leadership consists of a leader inspiring
followers to higher levels of accomplishment by successfully motivating them to achieve
in unimagined ways for the greater good. Burns viewed individuals who display
transformational leadership as working with others to develop a common purpose to
enhance and raise participants' level of commitment, as well as to inspire individuals
toward advanced levels of improvement for everyone's personal enrichment.
Bass and Avolio (1985) expanded Burns's original work by identifying the
components of transformational leadership as follows:
(1) Idealized Influence, which involves being role models for their
followers; (2) Inspirational Motivation, which involves motivating and
inspiring followers by providing meaning and challenge; (3) Intellectual
Stimulation, which involves stimulating followers' efforts to be innovative
and creative; and (4) Individualized Consideration, which involves paying
special attention to each individual's needs for achievement and growth.
(Geijsel & Sleegers, 1999, p. 2)
According to Bass and Avolio (1994), transformational leaders who successfully
motivate others to do more than what was originally intended, or that was thought
possible, are critical to maintaining the goals of an organization. Bass and Avolio (1994),
and their colleagues conducted a series of studies on transformational leadership. They
concluded from their findings that the notion of transformational leadership is a
significant and necessary attribute for improving organizations.
At the same time, Leithwood and his colleagues, who focused specifically on
educational leadership, pursued another line of research on transformational leadership.
Their series of studies explored the relationship between transformational leadership and
outcomes for schools, teachers, and students. They concluded that transformational
leadership has a strong, significant effect on organizational conditions. Table 1 presents
specific attributes associated with transformational leadership as depicted by various
researchers, to demonstrate the similarities attributed to this particular leadership.
Reviewing the Meaning of Educational Leadership
In 1996, Jantzi and Leithwood attempted to determine how a teacher's view of
transformational leadership was developed. Their objective was to gain insight into how
variations of a teacher's perceptions of transformational leadership were defined and to
determine the changeable conditions (external and internal) found within the
environments in which teachers work. Three years later, Leithwood and Jantzi examined
the nature and strength of relationships between alterable school conditions and
transformational leadership to determine the direct and indirect effects of principal and
teacher leadership on student engagement. This was a quantitative study of 110 schools
(N=l 10) with students from kindergarten through grade 9; information was obtained from
9,941 students and 1,762 teachers. Leithwood and Jantzi (1999) found that principal
leadership, although not strong, had a statistically significant effect on student
engagement (pp. 696-697).
In 2000, Leithwood and Jantzi replicated their research. Their studies were
concerned with determining the different effects of leadership on organizational change to
produce positive and significant organizational outcomes to improve specific school
conditions. Each of the studies included the identical independent measure of
transformational leadership, mediating variables (organizational condition, school
conditions, classroom conditions), and a dependent variable (student engagement). The
researchers indicated that the dimensions they used to identify transformational leadership
for their studies were derived from the work of Bass and Burns (1985), which looked at
transactional and transformational leadership as representing opposite ends of the
"leadership continuum" (p. 114). The intention was to identify the primary
transformational leadership characteristic needed within principals to successfully
improve organizational conditions and student engagement in schools. The research of
Leithwood et al. (1996) identified significant attributes surrounding three dimensions of
transformational school leadership:
1. Charisma/Inspiration/Vision—leaders inspire teachers to become engaged in
their work by establishing a particular vision for the school;
2. Individual Consideration—leaders demonstrate concern and respect for the
personal feelings and needs of teachers; and
3. Intellectual Stimulation—leaders challenge teachers in professionalizing
themselves in such a manner that the organization develops into a learning
Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) reported that a range of experiences that individuals
encounter had a meaningful influence on leaders' transformational leadership practices.
Clearly, more exploration is warranted of how leadership experience in the field directly
affects leaders. The clarifying points in need of review are directly related to identifying
the qualities that impact leaders as well as the behaviors that are directly attributed to
transformational leadership practices. Ultimately, research must be able to uncover and
categorize what leaders do in addition to how and why they do it. If leaders are to be
successfully prepared to initiate meaningful and purposeful school reforms, it is necessary
to identify the characteristics that leaders demonstrate within the work setting.
Silins et al. (2002) built on the work of Leithwood and Jantzi by looking more
deeply at how transformational leadership impacted organizational learning. They used
Leithwood and Jantzi's (1993) measure of transformational leadership and, similarly,
"Finn's (1989) conceptualization of student participation in engagement with school"
(p. 27) as dependent variables. Silins et al. (2002) used a "quantitative study" to examine
the nature of organizational learning and the leadership practices and processes that foster
organizational learning in Australian high schools. They also wanted to determine the
"nature and process of organizational learning" by examining the impact that leadership
has on teachers' work and the connection between "school-level factors and school
outcome measures in terms of students' participation and engagement with school"
(p. 613). Their goal was to explore the relationships between school leaders,
organizational learning, and student outcomes. Although Silins et al. used Leithwood and
Jantzi's (2000) six factors of transformational leadership; they found that they worked as
one single factor rather than several.
Two other studies developed different constructs of transformational leadership,
building on the work of Bass and Avolio, outlined earlier in the "Historical Roots"
section of this chapter. Barnett et al. (2001) examined the relationship between
transformational leadership and transactional leadership to explore the behaviors of
school principals. Their intention was to explore "Bass's conception of transformational
and transactional leadership with teacher outcomes, and with teacher perceptions of
school-learning culture" within a school setting (p. 5). Their definition of
transformational leadership was based on Bass and Avolio's (1994) work. The
"quantitative study" of Barnett et al. (2001) examining 12 secondary schools in Australia
found that the measures they used to describe leadership were drawn from three essential
designs. These constructs of leadership were: (1) transformational leadership,
(2) transactional leadership, and (3) laissez-faire (non-leadership).
Barnett et al. (2001) developed categories as an attempt to gain a greater
understanding of the outcomes generated from each leadership model. The objective was
to establish how leadership specifically influences the level of additional effort that
individuals exert, and to determine how individuals perceive organizational efficiency
and organizational satisfaction as they relate to the direct effect of leadership. Barnett et
al. (2001) described the features of transformational leadership as consisting of individual
concerns and vision/inspiration, while the aspects of transactional leadership included
active management (proactive leadership) by exception and passive management (reactive
leadership) by exception.
In a separate study, Marks and Printy (2003) built on Bass and Avolio's (1994)
work on how transformational leaders encourage followers to develop to their greatest
potential. Their specific research centered on two notions of leadership: transformational
leadership and instructional leadership. Marks and Printy (2003) conducted a "mixed
methods study" of 24 elementary, middle, and high schools, in which they defined
transformational leadership as having the following characteristics: idealized influence,
inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. They
concluded that transformational leaders inspire followers to value the importance of
transcending their own concerns for the good of the organization. They also defined
instructional leadership as being directly connected to teaching and learning, indicating
that this form of leadership demonstrates both direct and indirect attributes as they relate
to leadership functions. In particular, Marks and Printy (2003) identified four areas that
interceded with instruction: (1) developing the school mission and goals;
(2) coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating curriculum, instruction, and assessment;
(3) promoting a climate for learning; and (4) creating a supportive learning environment
(p. 373). In sum, Marks and Printy's (2003) study examined how school leadership
relationships between the principal and teachers influence the quality of teaching and
student performance. They found that leadership and the instructional process interface
with one another, and specifically that the focus of instructional leadership is directly
related to teaching and learning.
Leadership Impact on Student Engagement
Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) measured student participation (behavior
component) and identification (affective component) as aspects of student engagement.
By contrast, Silins et al. (2002) measured the influence of leadership variables on
organizational learning, and the impact of leadership and organizational learning through
teachers' work on student participation in school (behavioral), as well as student
engagement with school (psychological). Both sets of research found no significant
effects of teacher leadership on student engagement and suggested that student
engagement may be more vulnerable to impact from variables occurring outside the
classroom, as opposed to variables from within the classroom.
Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) findings indicate that student participation
(behavior component) and identification (affective component) of student engagement are
not strongly affected by transformational leadership. They specified that transformational
leadership has a significant, although weak, impact on students' identification
(affective/psychological dimension) and participation (behavioral dimension) in school.
As well, student engagement is mediated by school conditions and results from the
influence generated more from outside conditions rather than teachers' classroom
Silins et al.'s (2002) study indicates that transformational leadership does not
influence students' participation in school; instead, organizational learning is a significant
intermediary of principal and leadership team effects on teachers' work and students'
outcomes. The authors also point out that the conditions needed to improve school and to
advance student outcomes differ in that distributed leadership dimensions do not
significantly contribute to student participation and engagement with school. These
findings suggest that the influence of distributed leadership does not extend to student
participation in school (behavioral) and engagement (psychological) with school. Student
engagement can be related to teacher influence and work in the classroom. This influence
is indirectly related to the principal and to the leadership team's influence on school
conditions that are established to support organizational learning.
Leadership Impact on Organizational Conditions
As indicated in Chapter I, Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) outlined five school
conditions that would demonstrate how leadership could influence organizational
conditions: purpose and goals, school planning, organizational culture, structure and
organization, and information and decision-making (pp. 115-116). Leithwood and Jantzi
also noted that school conditions serve as a strong mediating variable in their studies;
accordingly, it is an area in which transformational leadership can have a direct and
positive impact. Therefore, transformational leaders should monitor the particular aspects
of school conditions that appear significantly improved by transformational leadership.
The intention of Leithwood and Jantzi's study was to discover the number of differences
found in various areas of the school setting, "explained by teachers' perceptions of the
extent of transformational practices exercised in their schools" (p. 120). The present
study, by contrast, focused on uncovering whether specific transformational leadership
dimensions could be explained by principals' behaviors, as revealed in principals' and
teachers' perceptions. The goal was to reveal the number of transformational practices
that were being exercised within each particular school.
Information from data collected on the effects of transformational leadership,
obtained from Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) study, is presented below. Their study
reported that the "means and standard deviations, aggregated to the school level, of
teachers' ratings of transformational leadership and all school and classroom conditions"
had produced results which indicated that "the internal reliabilities of all scales were
acceptable, ranging from 0.74 to 0.95" (p. 122). Teacher ratings of school and classroom
conditions, as well as of transformational leadership results, indicated "five of the
conditions loaded at 0.83 or higher, whereas the relationship of structure and organization
to the factor was somewhat weaker at 0.72" (p. 122). Leithwood and Jantzi's (2000) study
also described that purpose and goals had a factor loading of 0.85, which resulted from
teacher ratings of conditions within their school (Table II in Leithwood & Jantzi,
p. 122). Their study further documented that providing individual support had a factor
loading of 0.90, which resulted from teacher ratings of leadership within their schools.
Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) suggest that "transformational leadership has strong,
significant direct effects on organizational conditions" but a moderate effect on student
engagement (p. 124). Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) delineate that transformational school
leadership does "explain a large proportion of the variation in organizational conditions,
those features of the school to which leaders have direct access and which are,
conceptually, the means through which school effects are exercised" (p. 125). Their data
indicate that relationships between transformational leadership and organizational
conditions were deemed to be statistically significant (Table IV of Leithwood & Jantzi,
p. 123). The data from their study reveal the relevance of the relationships between
transformational leadership and the attributes of leadership (building school vision and
goals, and offering individual support) that have been selected as areas of further inquiry
for the present study. Furthermore, these findings suggest that future studies, which
investigate the attributes of transformational leadership, are warranted to further clarify
and enhance how leadership is perceived and understood.
Looked at from another angle, Silins et al. (2002) defined organizational
conditions as: school-level factors associated with leadership, organizational learning,
and student outcomes (p. 630). They described the conditions needed for organizational
learning as being directly associated with the establishment of three school leadership
variables: principal transformational leadership; active involvement with administrative
teams; and distributed leadership. Silins et al. implemented "a nine-variable model" to
investigate "the influence of leadership variables on organizational learning, and the
impact of leadership and organizational learning through teachers' work on students'
participation in engagement with school" (p. 627).
Results from Silins et al.'s (2002) study specified no direct effects of the
principal's approach to leadership on distributed leadership. However, they did suggest a
strong indirect influence of leadership practices relating to the extent of distributed
leadership found in the school. As Silins et al. state, "In our study, principals'
transformational practices, directly or indirectly, influenced every school and outcome
variable except students' participation in school" (p. 634). Data obtained from their study
indicate the following:
1. The proportion of variance of organizational learning accounted for by leaders
was 25% (.30 x .84), distributed leadership was 28% (.36 x .78), and total
proportion of variance of organizational learning accounted for by the total
leadership in schools was 53%.
2. Three variables emerged as direct predicators of organizational learning:
leader (p=.30), active leadership (p=.36), and distributed leadership (p=.36).
3. The leader exerted a dominant total influence on organizational learning and
was the direct predictor (p=.28) of teachers' work.
4. Organizational learning mediated indirect leader effects (i=.23) and, to a lesser
extent, indirect active leadership effects (i=.17).
5. Teachers' work exerted a direct influence on participation (p=.41).
Silins et al. (2002) believe that their findings authenticated the assumption that a
principal's transformational behavior, along with the leadership team's participation in
the school's core work, needs to be fostered throughout the school community. They
indicate that to assist teachers in leadership roles, organizational structures must be in
place within the school to support this. Their position is that once the leadership
behaviors of the principal and the leadership team in the school are in place and
distributed throughout the whole teaching staff, the influence of leadership on
organizational learning will establish educational learning within the school.
Silins et al. (2002) also point out that the level of leadership within a school will
establish the level of organizational learning that occurs there. Similarly, the conditions
that enhance student learning are directly related to the conditions and systems in place to
enable staff at all levels to seek new learning experiences collaboratively and
continuously. Silins et al. emphasize that organizational learning and leadership practices
have equal effects on each other, and together, organizational learning and leadership can
prevail over the complexities that thwart improved student learning. Additionally, Silins
et al. advocate that varying levels of organizational learning impinge on teachers' work
with students. They concluded that organizational learning, along with teachers'
instructional work, is an essential variable that intercedes with school conditions and
Silins et al.'s (2002) results indicate that transformational leadership does not
directly or indirectly influence all school outcomes. Their study supports the critical
function of encouraging leadership throughout schools, given that a leader's influence can
directly impact a school's level of organizational learning. In short, transformational
leadership practices are needed to support positive organizational change. According to
Silins et al., once the conditions for organizational learning are established within a
school, the level of organizational learning can affect teachers' work with their students
in the classrooms.
Leadership Impact on Teachers
Other researchers have explored the impact of leadership directly on teachers.
Barnett et al. (2001) found that positive teacher results could be obtained within the
school when relationships existed between the transformational and transactional
leadership behaviors of the school principal. These behaviors, however, must be related
to other aspects of the school learning culture. In addition, teaching and learning may be
hindered or negatively linked to students' learning outcomes because teachers'
perceptions surrounding the attributes of vision/inspiration—which they relate to
transformational leadership practices—are negative. Teachers did not distinguish between
the transformational leadership behaviors of charisma, intellectual stimulation, and
inspirational motivation, nor did they distinguish between transformational leadership
behavior, individual concern, and the transactional leadership behavior of contingent
Clearly, these findings indicate that teachers did not distinguish between
transformational and transactional leadership with respect to contingent reward. However,
Barnett et al. (2001) concluded that these two practices were connected. Transformational
leadership was successful when it incorporated transactional practices in a way that was
receptive as well as accepted by teachers. In addition, individual concern accounted for
65% of the variance in teacher outcomes. Teachers viewed the principal as effective when
the principal gave teachers individual attention; accordingly, when this occurred, teachers
were more likely to feel satisfied and willingly put forth the extra effort needed.
Barnett et al. (2001) also indicate that "passive management by exception"
explained 11% of the variance in their study. This passive management by exception
demonstrated the principals' failure to intervene except during problematic situations. As
a result, this had a direct and negative effect on the satisfaction and extra effort of the
teachers. Additionally, teachers who perceived principals as demonstrating this behavior
found these principals to be ineffective leaders. Barnett et al.'s (2001) findings also
indicate that teachers might perceive a principal's visionary practices as a hindrance to
their classroom work. That is, a principal's visionary practices may place greater demands
on teachers to do extra work outside the classroom.
Results obtained from other studies indicate that other factors need to be
considered when exploring the effective dimensions of transformational leadership.
Marks and Printy (2003) disagreed with Leithwood and Jantzi's (1999) position that
teachers who are given opportunities to act as leaders do "a disservice to teachers and
leaders" (p. 393). They emphasize that schools that integrate leadership to include
teachers eventually develop into organizations that learn and achieve at higher levels.
Marks and Printy's results indicate that instructional leadership elicits the characteristics
of transformational leadership that are necessary to increase teachers' commitment and
professionalism which are required to improve schools. They suggest that
transformational leadership and shared instructional leadership play critical roles in
attaining commitment from teachers.
Marks and Printy (2003) also stress that transformational leadership is needed
because it encourages teachers to share leadership functions. Their findings suggest that
teachers have both the desire and the expertise to lead. Thus, transformational leadership
and instructional leadership are effective methods of improving and developing
instructional leadership within teachers themselves. Marks and Printy (2003) claimed that
leadership is shared with teachers, which in turn will enhance school performance. In a
ripple effect, students were shown to perform at higher levels on authentic measures of
achievement when there was "integrated leadership." Integrated leadership then directly
links principals and teachers in developing a common commitment to education (Marks
& Printy, 2003). However, "shared instructional leadership" does not occur unless it is
deliberately sought and cultivated (Marks & Printy, 2003).
Barnett et al. (2001) and Marks and Printy (2003) summarized the impact of
leadership on teacher outcomes. They attribute the following characteristics to leadership:
(1) leaders demonstrate both transformational and transactional leadership; (2) behaviors
of the school principal connect to other characteristics of the school learning culture;
(3) transformational and transactional leadership helps to develop contingent rewards
for teachers; (4) leadership encourages teachers to share leadership functions;
(5) transformational leadership and instructional leadership improve and develop
instructional leadership within teachers; (6) shared leadership with teachers enhances
school performance; (7) integrated leadership between leaders and teachers enhances
student performance through teacher involvement; (8) the integration of transformational
and instructional leadership improves school conditions; and (9) shared instructional
leadership must be deliberately sought and cultivated if it is to be successful.
Barnett et al. (2001) and Marks and Printy (2003) provide a brief overview of how
specific leadership traits are believed to impact teacher outcomes. Both authors
summarized that teaching and learning may be delayed if teachers are not supported and
acknowledged by principals. They also believed that teachers aspire to lead and have
useful knowledge to be effective leaders if given the opportunity by principals. In fact,
teachers would become self-actualized and work harder if they view a principal giving
teachers individual attention. Both researchers maintain that the principal's
transformational and transactional leadership behaviors can cause positive teacher results
within the school. However, the satisfaction and extra effort of teachers may also be
affected if principals fail to get involved during difficult times and that a principal's
visionary practices may be perceived more by teachers as an obstacle to their
effectiveness in the classroom.
Contrasting how principals perceive their own leadership as well as how teachers
perceive the leadership practices of the principal provides an opportunity to capture a
broader understanding of a principal's leadership practices in schools. The benefit in
conducting this research is connected to determining how a principal's leadership
practices directly affect school conditions. This is a critical element in being able to
disclose the principal's role in improving school conditions.
Research indicates that to successfully engage teachers in their work, educational
leaders must first establish school conditions which directly or indirectly influence the
environments in their schools (Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Sergiovanni, 1995; Silins
et al., 2002). Findings such as these require further inquiries into how leadership is
viewed within schools. Observing the effect of two specific transformational leadership
dimensions on five specific school conditions may provide results that possibly suggest
how the leadership practices of principals are perceived. Commonalities found in the
reviewed studies of transformational leadership have established that a relationship
between leaders and followers is a positive factor in establishing school conditions that
lead to school improvement (Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000, 2005; Silins et al., 2002).
The literature clearly identifies that a principal's leadership practices can have
indirect impact on students through direct impact on teachers (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000,
2005; Silins et al., 2002). Investigating the leadership practice of principals provides an
opportunity to obtain a more thorough understanding of how principals possibly affect
positive school reform initiatives to occur within schools. The research contributes to the
literature by providing a greater understanding of how a principal's leadership is
perceived to be practiced.
The following section briefly elaborates on the differences between transactional
and transformational leadership. One of the key proponents in this area is Henderson
(2002), who states that transformative learning focuses on change at the individual level,
while transformational change refers to the basic ways in which an individual functions
within an organization. Henderson (2002) adds that "Transformational learning is the
process of examining, questioning, validating, and revising our perceptions of the world
(Cranton, 1994)" (p. 200). He further denotes that the learning process involves
individuals making sense of their worlds from experiences to which they have been pre-
exposed. Leaders must understand the difference between transformative learning and
transformational change if they expect to be able to "contribute to a more holistic and
effective approach to understanding change in organizations" (p. 187).
Transactional leadership is dependent upon the leaders' focus on perfecting their
abilities to effectively suggest tangible rewards in an effort to barter for something else in
return (Burns, 1978). Transactional leaders seek to reward followers as well as to barter
in exchange for their efforts (Burns, 1978; Sergiovanni, 2004). Sergiovanni (2004) states
that "the wants and the needs of followers are traded against the wants and the needs of
the leader and a bargain is struck" (p. 174).
Henderson (2002) suggests that "Fundamental changes in perception lead to
changes in behavior within the organization" (p. 189). First-order change (transactional:
system changes) and second-order change (transformational: leadership changes) are two
separate and distinct concepts. However, both ideas are critical for developing an
understanding of how to improve organizations. Accordingly, it is necessary for
transformational leaders to understand the concepts of transactional change and
transformational change. Transactional change requires that the processes (systems,
policies, procedures, management practices, structure) that individuals use to interact
within the organization are connected to the "climate" of the organization.
Transformational change is described as an involvement directed towards an
organization's mission and policy, the leadership, and the organizational "culture" that
permeates the environment of the organization. Transformational change involves varying
the way people perceive their positions, responsibilities, and relationships within the
organization. Henderson (2002) denotes that "Transformational change in organizations
involves radical changes in how members perceive, think, and behave at work
(Cummings & Worley, 1997)" (p. 186).
In addition, Henderson (2002) states that "critical reflection is essential for
transformational change at both the individual and organizational levels" (p. 210).
Transformational change in organizations depends on a true "transformative change in the
organization and move to a higher level of performance, in which the individual must
become aligned within the new structure, the work process, and the culture of the
organization" (p. 211). Thus, transformational change for the individual is the "essential
outcome of the change process" (p. 206). Henderson (2002) notes that a concept critical
to this idea is that transformative learning theory can balance and enhance
transformational change efforts by promoting commitment rather than conformity.
In considering transformational leadership, one must also consider transactional
leadership. The literature poses varying views surrounding transformational and
transactional leadership (Burns, 1978). The research describes how transformational
leaders must engage their followers in aspiring to achieve greater results, as opposed to
transactional leaders who engage their followers by offering them a pre-determined
established agreement to achieve greater results (Bass & Avolio, 1988; Burns, 1978;
Henderson, 2002; Sergiovanni, 2004). Although transactional and transformational
leadership are different concepts, research indicates that perhaps both aspects must be
present if leadership is to be effective (Bass & Avolio, 1988). Thus, the relevance of
providing a description of transactional leadership is to provide information which could
be utilized when reflectively comparing and contrasting transformational leadership and
transactional leadership to obtain a richly descriptive depiction of what leadership traits
Analysis of Studies on Transformational Leadership
Because varying interpretations of transformational leadership can be found in the
research, it becomes possible to narrow down the current description of transformational
leadership dimensions and inform this study's direction by identifying the effective
attributes of transformational leadership. Despite the general consensus on the definition
of transformational leadership, agreement on the number of specific leadership
dimensions and the importance of each dimension has been found to vary (Barnett et al.,
2001; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000, 2005; Marks & Printy, 2003; Silins et al., 2002).
Outlined below are several different conceptions of transformational leadership extracted
from this review of the research.
Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) note that in general, leaders have the ability to
cultivate individuals' aspirations to achieve greater personal commitment and accomplish
common organizational goals. Specifically, they delineate six dimensions of
transformational leadership: (1) building school vision and goals; (2) providing
intellectual stimulation; (3) offering individual support; (4) symbolizing professional
practices and values; (5) demonstrating high performance expectations; and
(6) developing structures to foster participation in school decisions (p. 114). Leithwood
and Jantzi (2000) suggest that leadership can have a direct impact on school conditions.
By contrast, Silins et al. (2002) indicate that effective leadership is more contingent upon
the indirect influence of leaders on school conditions than on their direct leadership
practices on teachers.
As mentioned earlier, Silins et al. used Leithwood and Jantzi's same six factors,
but found that they could be used as one single factor. However, Silins et al. also
measured distributed leadership that exists in schools as perceived by teachers. They
point out that a principal's leadership, along with distributed leadership that is shared
with others, represents the total leadership in any one school. Further, distributed
leadership is shared by all constituents of the school community. Their position is that
individuals who are capable of distributing leadership throughout the school to various
places and to other individuals are leaders who demonstrate active leadership. Silins et al.
conclude with the suggestion that active leadership corresponds to teachers viewing and
perceiving themselves as working collaboratively with the leader to improve school
As indicated previously, Barnett et al's. (2001) conception of leadership involves
a framework that consists of both transactional leadership and transformational
leadership. As discussed before, although each is a separately defined leadership
behavior, together they are also integrated ideologies that supplement and complement
one another in practice. Barnett et al's. definition of transformational leadership was
identified by five specific characteristics, as summarized by Bass and Avolio (1998):
(1) Idealized Influence (attribute)—followers identify and imitate leaders who are trusted
and seen as having an attainable mission and vision; (2) Idealized Influence (behavior)—
followers identify with leaders' behavior and want to be like them; (3) Inspirational
Motivation—closely related to Idealized Influence, followers are motivated and inspired
when provided meaning and challenge; (4) Intellectual Stimulation—followers' efforts to
be innovative and creative are encouraged and stimulated; and (5) Individualized
Consideration—leaders relate to followers one-on-one to elevate goals and objectives by
attending to individual needs for achievement and growth. Barnett et al.'s features of
transactional leadership include: (1) Contingent Reward—exchange of rewards for
meeting agreed-upon objectives; (2) Management by Exception (active)—a leader
monitors followers to ensure that mistakes are not made; and (3) Management by
Exception (passive)—a leader intervenes only when a problem arises.