Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS (Since 1982) Global Website: www.nationalforum.com
NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNALVOLUME 26, NUMBERS 1 & 2, 201355An Identification of the Most Preferred Dispositions of EffectiveSchool LeadersReginald Leon Green, EdDProfessorUniversity of MemphisTonya CooperPrincipalMemphis City SchoolsDoctoral StudentUniversity of Memphis______________________________________________________________________________AbstractThe purpose of this research was to identify dispositions describing effective leaders mostfrequently appearing in the literature and to determine those dispositions that leaders of today’sschools believe to be most preferred in the leadership of their schools. The research wasconducted in three phases. In Phase One, the researchers selected 49 dispositions frequentlyappearing in the literature as descriptors of effective school leaders. In Phase Two, a populationof 123 school leaders was surveyed to determine their preferred dispositions from among the 49in the literature. Sixteen (16) dispositions were selected during the second phase. To reduce the16 dispositions to a manageable number, during Phase Three,51 school leaders serving in aschool district in the Southeastern United States were asked to rank the16dispositionsin the orderthey most preferred. The outcome was the identification of 6dispositions that are representativeof those most preferred by leaders of today’s schools: vision, integrity, character, trust, ethics,and communication.Keywords: dispositions, dispositions of effective school leaders, leaders in today’sschools, effective school leaders______________________________________________________________________________Over the past century, American public educators have engaged in a number of reformmovements.Notwithstanding the number of educational reforms that have been implemented, alarge number of students remain classified as underperforming. Consequently, in America’sschools, there are achievement gaps between groups of students. Even in the highest performingschools, achievement gaps exist, and the challenge of closing those gaps remains problematic.It is clearly evident that changes have occurred in society. To keep up with thosechanges, change has to occur in schools. Now, more than ever before, the leadership of schoolsis being questioned, and the hard questions being asked address the performance of schools andstudent achievement.
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER56Individuals who criticize the current educational system argue that a change is needed inthe leadership of schools. Therefore, the major focus of the current reform movement has shiftedto the role of the principal (Cunningham & Cordeiro, 2009). Principals are being asked tobecome instructional leaders, responsible for the effectiveness of the school, as well as theacademic achievement of all students in attendance (Clifford & Ross, 2011; Council of ChiefState School Officers, 2008; Lashway, 2002).Part of the process of instructional leadership is the monitoring and supervision ofteachers. There is growing agreement among researchers that the school leader is best positionedto ensure that teaching and learning occur throughout the school, only second to teachers whohave the most immediate effect on student success (Bottoms & O’Neill, 2001; Green, 2009;Hobson-Horton, Green, & Duncan, 2009; Waters & Grubb, 2004; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty,2003).The shift in the role of higher accountability for the principal as instructional leader hasplaced greater demands on teachers as principals are observing teachers to ensure that theyimprove student performance. In addition, the public is demanding more information about theeffect individual teachers have on student learning (Consortium on Chicago School Research,2010). Teachers make up the largest portion of the professional body in a school, have mostcontact with students throughout the day, and influence the environment of theschool.Consequently, principals have raised the evaluation level of teachers, requiring them toincrease their effectiveness. The issue of teacher effectiveness has become a federal and statepriority and a major topic of debate across the country (Darling-Hammond, 2010; SouthernRegional Education Board, 2011).Therefore, it seems reasonable to believe that to enhanceteacher effectiveness, the relationship between teachers and principals must be enhanced. In fact,the most successful teachers may be the ones inspired by their relationship with their principal(Edgerson &Kritsonis, 2006).Review of the LiteratureResearch studies have revealed that to be effective in structuring the school for effectiveteaching and learning, principals must support teachers and establish and maintain positiverelationships with them. According to Barth (2006), the nature of the relationships betweenteachers and principals has a greater influence on the culture of the school and studentachievement than any other elements affiliated with the school. If the relationships betweenprincipals and teachers are trusting, helpful, and cooperative, then the relationships betweenteachers and students, between students and students, and between teachers and parents, arelikely to be the same (Barth, 2006; Green, 2010). Principals have the ability to improve teacherperceptions overall by simply attending to fundamental components inherent in qualityrelationships. As teachers begin to feel better about themselves and what they do as a result ofsignificant interactions with their principals, they become more effective in the classroom(Edgerson & Kritsonis, 2006). The quality of support teachers receive from principals isassociated with their job satisfaction (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2008; Markow &Martin, 2005). To that end, functioning in their role as instructional leaders, principals are welladvised to support teachers and develop and maintain positive relationships with them.Whenteachers feel positively about their position, they have a positive influence on students and theschool. The reverse is also true; when teachers have negative feelings about their positions, they
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER57may negatively impact students and the school (Edgerson &Kritsonis, 2006).A critical factor, however, is lacking in this new reform movement, namely thedisposition of the principal and its influence on his/her relationship with teachers and schooleffectiveness. The disposition of the principal is embedded in his or her behavior. It is themanner in which he/she conducts him/herself; the manner in which he/she responds to eventsthat occur in the environment,and his/her actions or reactions to external or internal situations(Green, 2013).The disposition of the principal is a combination of his/her beliefs, values, andattitudes, and those beliefs and values influence behavior (Melton, Mallory, & Green,2010).Teacher perception of the disposition of the principal and the affect that it has on his/herbehavior is critical to the effectiveness of the school (Blase & Kirby, 2000). Therefore, principalsare well advised to create a supportive environment for teachers.Dispositions of School LeadersThe disposition of school leaders is a controlling perceptual quality that determines theirnatural or usual ways of thinking and acting (Usher, 2002). Qualities, such as integrity, honesty,trust, and character characterize the disposition of school leaders and provide an explanation asto why they act in a certain way (Fullan, 2002; Perkins, 1995; Reavis, 2008). It is possible forschool leaders to possess some effective skills and positive leadership traits, but lack keyleadership dispositions(Deal & Peterson, 2009). This void has the potential of negativelyimpacting the leader’s ability to achieve long term success. In such instances, the disposition ofthe leader may negatively impact the school environment, interfering with the teaching andlearning process (Deal & Peterson, 2009). For example, McGregor (1960) theorized that a leadermight have a Theory X disposition or a Theory Y disposition. A leader with a Theory Xdisposition acts in ways that are coercive and directive, while a leader with a Theory Ydisposition acts in ways that are democratic and delegating (Green, 2009). Thus,dispositioninfluences behaviors toward faculty, students, families, colleagues, and communities (NationalCouncil for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE, 2002).Consequently, thedisposition of school leaders can affect student learning and development, the level of motivationof faculty members, as well as his or her own professional growth.Above all, it is the leader’s beliefs about schools, teachers, children, parents, and thecommunity that form the foundation upon which leadership for school improvement is based(Green, 2009). As school leaders make selections from various alternatives, they reveal theirpreferences for particular values, interests and beliefs (Green 2009). In order to lead the type ofchange necessary to transform underperforming schools and ultimately close the achievementgap, school leaders must know the impact they are having on people and the school in general.With a deep understanding of self and the impact of their dispositions, leaders can, if necessary,modify their beliefs and values and enhance skillful performance in schools.The Impact of Leadership Disposition on School EffectivenessTeachers are the single most important factor in improving schools and increasing studentachievement (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). However,studies have shown that working conditions, particularly in the areas of leadership and teacherempowerment, impact teachers’ decisions to remain in a particular school or the profession ingeneral (Ingersoll, 2001). New teachers most admire school leaders who establish a culture based
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER58on fairness, honesty, and trustworthiness (Ingersoll, 2001). Therefore, it is imperative that schoolleaders understand that their dispositions can positively or negatively impact their relationshipwith teachers, as well as the climate and culture of the school.The disposition of a school leader influences the potential for teachers to succeed withina school environment. As a result, students’ achievement is affected. Effective leadership(principal leadership) brings about supportive followership (teachers and students), and the resultis high performing teachers and students. A school leader with a positive disposition is likely tocreate a school atmosphere wherein effective teaching and learning occurs. The quality ofleadership is directly proportional to the quality of followership (Pringle, 2007). Therefore, it isreasonable to believe that the disposition of the principal can positively or negatively impactachievement in the school. The question that looms largely is which type of principal dispositionis most influential in developing a positive relationship with teachers and enhancing theacademic achievement of students in the schools they lead.Statement of the ProblemPrincipals are being requested to assume the responsibility of enhancing the academicachievement of all students who enter the schoolhouse. Principal/teacher relationships play amajor role in this process. Several studies appearing in the literature offer evidence of whatschool leaders need to know and be able to do in order to effectively lead a 21stcentury school.However, little has been written on the preferred disposition of school leaders. To developapproaches to use in enhancing the relationship between principal and teachers and ultimatelyenhance the academic achievement of students, there is a need to identify the disposition ofeffective school leaders. This information can be used as a foundation for research that addressesprincipal/teacher relationships and student achievement.Purpose of the StudyThe purpose of this research was to identify dispositions describing effective leaders mostfrequently appearing in the literature and to determine those dispositions that leaders of today’sschools believe to be most preferred in their leadership. Three (3) research questions guided thestudy.Research Questions:1. What leadership dispositions appear in the literature most frequently as characteristics ofeffective school leaders?2. Which of the dispositions appearing in the literature are perceived by school leaders asthose most preferred for leading their school?3. What is the relationship, if any, between the dispositions identified as most preferred byschool leaders and the level of their school’s performance?
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER59The theoretical perspective we drew on for our research is McGregor’s Theory X TheoryY (McGregor, 1960) and Transformational Leadership (Bass, 1998). Our premise whichinformed the use of Theory X Theory Y is that in administrating today’s schools, a leaderinteracts with a variety of individuals and groups in situations in which the leader’s disposition isa major determinant of success. The disposition indicators denote an individual’s beliefs, values,and type of commitment that tend to be most effective in a school situation (Green, 2009).McGregor’s theory characterizes how the perception of a leader influences his/her behavior. Inaddition, the leadership style being advocated for school leaders of today’s schools is embeddedin transformational leadership (Bass, 1998; Burns, 1978).Transformational Leadership Theorydescribes the behavior of leaders and their relationship with followers (Northouse, 2012). Acommitment to the principles of the theory can have a major impact on a school and on studentachievement.MethodologyThe study was designed in three phases. In Phase One, the researches selected Green’s(2013) 49 dispositions as those most representative of the characteristics of effective schoolleaders appearing in the literature. Next, a population of 123 school leaders was surveyed todetermine from among the 49 dispositions the ones they most preferred. Finally, 51 schoolleaders serving in a school district in the Southeastern United States were asked to rank order thedispositions they most preferred. Using data from the rankings, the researchers conducted aSpearman’s rho correlation coefficientto determine the difference, if any, that existed among theleaders based on the performance of their school.PopulationDuring the 26thAnnual High Schools That Work Staff Development Conference held inNew Orleans, Louisiana, in July, 2012, the researchers presented an interactive session on thetopic ―Leadership Dispositions: Implications for Effective School Leadership.‖ During thissession, over 150 school leaders representing schools from across 16 Southeastern states wereasked to complete The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale which contained Green’s(2013)list of 49 leadership dispositions. From the individuals attending the session, 123 responded tothe scale with complete information. Those 123 participants were included in the study. Forty-nine (49) of the participants were principals;55 were assistant principals, and19 were centraloffice administrators.During the third phase of the study, a survey was sent electronically to 51 principals in aschool district located in the Southeastern section of the United States. Forty (40) of the51individuals responded with complete information for a return rate of 78%.Of the forty (40) responses,14 were males; 26 were females;27 were Caucasians, and13were African-Americans. Eleven (11) respondents, 27.5%, ranged in ages from 25 to 40;10respondents, 25%, ranged in ages from 41 to 50;18 respondents,45%, ranged in ages from 51 to60, and 1 respondent was over 60, 2.5%. The forty (40) respondents included 18 elementaryschool principals, 45%; 13 middle school principals,32.5%; 6high school principals, 15%;2kindergarten through 8th grade school principals, 5%, and 1principal who did not identify thegrade configuration of the school.
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER60Table 1Participants in the StudySource/Phase Number ofParticipantsNumber of ResponsesLiterature/Phase One N/A N/AConference/PhaseTwo150+ 123School District/PhaseThree51 40InstrumentTwo instruments were used in the study, ―The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale‖and a modified version of that scale. Both instruments were adapted from the dispositionsappearing in Practicing the Art of Leadership: A Problem-Based Approach to Implementing theISLLC Standards (Green, 2013). The first instrument consisted of 49 leadership constructs.Greencontends that the 49 leadership constructs characterize the dispositions of effective leadership asexhibited in major research studies and writings. The second instrument was an adaptation of the―The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale‖ which contained the 16 dispositions that emergedfrom an analysis of the data from phase two of the study.FindingsIn Phase I of the study, a list of 49dispositions were selected from Practicing the Art ofLeadership: A Problem-Based Approach to Implementing the ISLLC Standards (Green, 2013),representing the dispositions most frequently appearing in the literature as characteristics ofeffective school leaders.The forty-nine (49) dispositions selected are in the appendix of thispaper. These dispositions were used to compriseTheMost Preferred Leader Behavior Scale.TheMost Preferred Leader Behavior Scalewas administered (during a session) at the 26thAnnual High Schools That Works Conference in New Orleans in July, 2012, to an estimated 150attendees. From among the 49 dispositions listed on the scale,participants were asked to checkall of the dispositions that they most preferred to observe as school leaders. One-hundred twenty-three (123) respondents fully completed and returned the survey.For each of thedispositionschecked, frequencies were obtained and subsequently ranked from most often chosen—―Respect‖ being ranked first, receiving some 99 responses-- to least often chosen—―Predictability‖ being ranked last, receiving only 3 responses. Desirous of reducing the rankeddispositions to a manageable number, the researchers used the ranks to select the top 15dispositions, later increased to 16, given a tie between the dispositions ranked 15thand 16th.Chosen by a minimum of 45 respondents, the dispositions retained for Phase3 of the study arepresented in Table 2, ranked in terms of frequency and percentage from the most often selected(―Respect‖ chosen by 80.5% of the 123 respondents to the least often selected (―Courage‖ and
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER61―Openness,‖ both chosen by 36.6% of the respondents).Table 2Dispositions Most Often Selected by Participants at the High Schools That Works ConferenceDispositions % nRespect 80.5 99Communication 69.1 85Honesty 69.1 85Compassion 65.9 81Trust 65.9 81Integrity 60.2 74Passion 59.3 73Vision 56.9 70Commitment 54.5 67Fairness 51.2 63Consistency 43.1 53Ethics 42.3 52Rapport 41.5 51Character 37.4 46Courage 36.6 45Openness 36.6 45In Phase 3 of the study, the 16 dispositions from Phase 2 were placed into a secondversion of the instrumentin which respondents were asked to perform a forced rankingin order ofthe importance of the dispositions for being an effective school leader.E-mailed to some 51
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER62principals in a Southeastern United States school district, the revised instrument garneredcomplete responses from 40 of the original 51 principals, and all descriptive statistics pertinent tothese responses were computed. As summarized in Table 2 below, inspection of these statisticsindicated that 3 dispositions were, by far, considered first in order of importance: Vision (MedianRank of 2.5);Character (Median Rank of 4.0), and Integrity (Median Rank of 4.0) and that, alongwith 3others, were repeatedly ranked either first, second, or third. As depicted in Figure 1, thosedispositions assigned one of the highest three ranks by the largest percentage of respondentswere as follows: Vision (57.5%); Character (45%); Integrity (45%);Trust (30%); Ethics (25%),and Communication (22.5).Table 3Descriptive Statistics Pertinent to the Rank Ordering of the 16 DispositionsDisposition MdnRankRank 1-3 MRankSD Rho01) Character 4.0 45.0% 5.60 4.42 0.0002) Commitment 7.5 15.0% 7.48 3.85 0.0503) Communication 7.0 22.5% 6.98 3.67 -0.0704) Compassion 11.0 2.5% 10.40 3.77 -0.2005) Consistency 8.5 2.5% 8.50 3.53 0.0806) Courage 12.5 2.5% 11.65 3.77 -0.28 *07) Ethics 6.0 25.0% 6.65 3.94 0.2208) Honesty 8.0 15.0% 8.28 3.93 0.0209) Fairness 10.0 2.5% 10.55 3.92 0.0310) Integrity 4.0 45.0% 5.33 4.22 0.27 *11) Openness 14.0 2.5% 12.95 3.44 -0.0112) Passion 11.5 2.5% 10.60 3.89 -0.0213) Rapport 13.0 10.0% 11.60 4.24 0.0314) Respect 9.0 20.0% 7.85 3.95 -0.0515) Trust 7.0 30.0% 7.05 4.22 -0.0216) Vision 2.5 57.5% 4.55 4.48 0.14*p< .05, one tailedIn addition to these statistics, Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients were computedtodetermine the extent of the relationship between the principals’ disposition rankings and school-level Tennessee ―Value-Added‖ Assessment System (TVAAS) rankings. Inspection of thematrix of these correlations indicated that only 2 of the 16 dispositions were significantly linkedin some way to student achievement.After reverse-scoring the dispositions’ rankings to heightenthe interpretability of the results, it was shown that there was a significantly positive relationshipbetween school-wide student achievement based on TVASS and the disposition of courage ( =.28, p = .040) and a significantly negative relationship between school-wide student
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER63achievement based on TVASS and the disposition of integrity ( = .27, p = 0.045).Figure 1. Percentage of respondents ranking dispositions, first, second, or third.DiscussionDispositions are characterized as values, beliefs, and attitudes which are exhibited in thebehavior of leaders (Melton et al., 2010). While differences exist between the various definitionsof disposition, a number of studies appear in the literature that offers evidence that thedisposition of school leaders impact the academic achievement of students (Barge, 2009; Barlow,Jordan,& Hendrix , 2003; Helm, 2010). Therefore, a study of preferred dispositions of effectiveschool leaders has merit.A Discussion of the FindingsThree research questions guided this study. The intent of the first question was todetermine the dispositions most frequently appearing in the literature that characterize effectiveschool leaders. This question was addressed by the selection of dispositions compiled by Green,(2013).These dispositions were selected because they address situational leadership, moralleadership, distributive leadership, transformational leadership, and most specifically45.0%15.0%22.5%2.5% 2.5% 2.5%25.0%15.0%2.5%45.0%2.5% 2.5%10.0%20.0%30.0%57.5%0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER64instructional leadership. Comprehensively, they address the processes used by effective schoolleaders to communicate, make decisions, manage conflict, and lead change. They are alsounderpinned by the Interstate School Leader Licensure Standards (ISLLC Standards) which arethe premier leadership standards guiding leadership preparation programs nationally (―ISLLC,‖2008).The second research question sought to identify from among the 49 dispositions theones most preferred by effective school leaders. To address that question, the researchersexplored the preferred dispositions of school leaders in two different groups. The first groupconsisted of 123 school leaders from 16states in the Southeastern region of the United States.The second group consisted of 40 school leaders from a school district in one of those states.Each group, a convenient sample of school leaders, was asked to select from Green’s (2013) listof dispositions the ones they most preferred as leaders of their school.The first group of 123 participants checked from Green’s (2013) list of 49 dispositions,their most preferred dispositions. Using a descriptive rank order frequency research design, theresearchers were able to identify the 16dispositions checked most frequently by the group. The16dispositions ranked most frequently were character, commitment, communication,compassion, consistency, courage, ethics, honesty, fairness, integrity, openness, passion, rapport,respect, trust, and vision. These dispositions are frequently referenced in the literature asnecessary for effective school leadership (Avolio, 2007; Barlow et al., 2003; Helm, 2010;Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991). Some researchers and writers argue that among them the prevailingdisposition for effective leaders is character (Barlow et al., 2003).Having reduced Green’s (2013) list of dispositions to sixteen, the researchers wereinterested in determining from among them the ones most preferred by school leaders in a singleschool district and if the dispositions of the leaders in that school district were significantlydifferent when compared to the achievement level of their schools. To investigate this question, aconvenient school district was selected, and the principals of that district were asked to completea modified version of the Preferred Leadership Disposition Scale. Data from the participants inthe single school district revealed that the participants ranked vision, integrity, and character aseither their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd preference. Trust, ethics, and communication were the next threedispositions ranked as preferred.The Preferred DispositionsVision (57.5%): Fifty-seven point five percent (57.5%) of the participants ranked visionas their 1st, 2nd, or 3rdpreference. In order to effectively lead a school, the principal has to have avision of what is possible and be able to share that vision with all stakeholders. A visionaryprincipal facilitates the process of goal-setting within a school and fosters a reputation forproviding unique learning opportunities to all students. He or she has high standards of learningfor all stakeholders (ISLLC, Standard 1). Bennisagrees with this assertion as he suggest thateffective leaders must be able to create a shared vision, have a voice characterized by purpose,operate from a strong moral code, and be able to adapt to change (as cited in Marzano, Waters &McNulty, 2005). With a vision of what is possible and what the school can become, theprincipal can lead the effort of reconstructing a school, working with stakeholders to establishstandards by which the school will operate. Under visionary leadership, students thriveacademically and socially (Kouzes & Posner, 2012).Integrity (45.0 %): Forty-five percent(45%) of the participants in the study ranked
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER65integrity as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rdpreference. A leader with integrity adheres to a code of ethics,displays moral or artistic values, and is incorruptible. Cash believes the values of the leader areconsistent, regardless of time, place, and circumstances. When a school leader has integrity, heor she can build trust, and trust builds relationships (2008). According to Maxwell (2010), trust isthe foundation of leadership. In practicing the art of leadership, school leaders with integrity takeresponsibility for their actions and ensure that all students have access to knowledge (Strike,Haller, & Soltis, 2005) and that all teachers have the same level of support and resources toestablish the highest quality in educational standards. In actuality, their actions align with theirwords (Leroy, Palanski, &Simons, 2012). They acquire a keen understanding of the purpose ofeducation and the role of leadership in modern society (ISLLC, Standard 5).Character (45.0%): Another disposition ranked by 45%of the participants as their 1st, 2nd,or 3rdpreference was character. School leaders with character have good judgment. They create amoral climate in the schoolhouse and build relationships that foster respect and fairness. Inaddition, they have fortitude, are self-disciplined, put forth effort, and persevere until the task iscompleted.In practicing the art of leadership, school leaders have to make decisions regarding adiverse school and community and with character these decisions are made in a fair andequitable manner. The school leader exhibits the type of behavior that demonstrates that he/shebelieves that diversity enriches the school (ISLLC, Standard 4) and brings benefits to the schoolcommunity (ISLLC, Standard 2). In essence, school leaders with character are what their beliefis. They show consistency between their values, ethical reasoning and actions, and they developpositive psychological states, such as confidence, optimism, hope, and resilience in themselvesand their associates. Also, they are widely known and respected for their integrity (Cooper,Santora, & Sarros, 2007).Trust (30.0%) The tabulated results revealed that 30%of the participants ranked trust astheir 1st, 2nd, or 3rdpreference. When trust is pervasive, the school leader is consistent in words,actions, and deeds, and there are no gaps between what he or she says and what he or she does(Ciancutti& Steding, 2001). The faculty members know that they can count on the leader tofollow through on promises. For example, if a principal promises to support the faculty in whatappears to be a difficult initiative, such as the implementation of a new technology-based sciencemodule, the faculty should be able to trust that the principal will provide support by way ofresources, encouragement, and professional development to promote the success of the initiative.The current reform movement strongly advocates distributing leadership throughout theorganization. In order to distribute leadership, school leaders must be able to trust people andtheir judgment (ISLLC, Standard 3). The cornerstone of effective leadership in schools isrelationships, and trust is the foundation on which relationships are built (Waters et al., 2003). Acritical factor in producing positive learning outcomes for students is the trusting behaviorexhibited by the school leader (Wang & Bird, 2011).Ethics (25.0%): Twenty-five percent (25%) of the participants ranked ethics as their 1st,2nd, or 3rdpreference. Effective school leaders administer their schools using various ethicalframeworks and perspectives (ISLLC, Standard 5). A set of principles guide their behavior, andthe principles are based on informal and formal standards consisting of core values, honesty,respect, and trust (Beckner, 2004).They oversee the proper execution of initiatives within theschool and in doing so, they are careful to assess their beliefs to ensure that the beliefs that theyhold compliment and are in concert with the expectations of the organization.Communication (22.5%): Communication was ranked 1st, 2nd, or 3rdby 22.5%of the
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER66participants. Communication is the life blood of the school. When an effective system ofcommunication is in place in the school, the school leader actively listens to diverse points ofview and uses the process to link individuals, groups, and the organization for the purpose ofbuilding relationships, establishing trust, and earning respect for self and others (Green, 2013).They understand that continuous dialogue with other decision makers affecting education(ISLLC, Standard 6) is vital to their effectiveness and the success of the school. Througheffective means of communication, school leaderscreate a culture where faculty, staff, students,parents, and community members are informed of pertinent matters concerning the schooloperations.In summary, there is a constant theme embedded within the top 6dispositions. The top6dispositions that emerged in the study are aligned with the principles of moral leadership. Themoral dimension of leadership encompasses at least 4of the highest ranked dimensions preferred:character, integrity, trust, and ethics (Muczyk & Adler, 2002). These beliefs impact how oneleads an organization in the sense that a leader’s moral obligation is to use his/her abilities tolead others in transforming the organization into what it could be by making decisions that are inthe best interest of the school (Brown & Anfara, 2003).The dispositions chosen speaks to the humanistic characteristics of leadership.Cunningham and Cordeiro (2009) validated the human element associated with leaders whopossess humanistic characteristics. They suggest that these leaders are supportive in their effortsto develop followers who act in the best interest of the organization. Keeping in line with theimportance of attending to the human element associated with leadership, Bennis and Nanus(2003) concluded that when one believes in human growth, this belief generates an environmentof trust and authentic relationships.The Relationship between Leader Disposition and Level of School PerformanceThe third question, ―What is the relationship, if any, between the dispositions identifiedby school leaders as most preferred for leading schools and the level of school performance?‖was assessed using data from the group of 40 school leaders. With the exception of courage andintegrity, the results of the data analysis revealed that for participants in this study, dispositionshad little impact on the level of performance of their school (See Figure 1). One reason thatcould be offered for this finding is the similar nature in which leaders of the district are requiredto lead, the philosophy of central office administrators, and the expectations of members of thelarger community. With regards to courage and integrity, one might reason that, with courage, aschool leader would take the initiative to make the needed changes necessary for schoolimprovement. Also, with integrity, the school leader might be more inclined to ensure that allstudents have access to knowledge and the opportunity to acquire that knowledge. Nevertheless,as evidenced by their selections, these leaders, regardless of the achievement levels of theirschools, encapsulated the characteristics of an effective leader as one who is attentive to thehuman element associated with leadership and has worked to forge strong relationships withhis/her followers. However, these researchers realize the inclusiveness of the findings and that itis evident that additional study is needed in this area.
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER67ConclusionsLeadership is not about holding a position;rather, it is about skills and the behaviors thatsurface in the disposition of the individual (Hrebeniuk, 2011). What makes leadership greatnessis leaders who begin something that does not end with them. They realize that the impossible isgenerally untried, and the best way to succeed in the future is to create it. Consequently, effectiveleaders take off the blinders and look for new opportunities to assist in the education of allstudents. In the final analysis, school leaders seeking effectiveness must ask themselves: Is mydisposition fostering the creation of a climate in the school wherein a difference can be made inthe academic achievement and social and emotional well-being of students (Tirozzi, 2001)?It is arguable that the 6 dispositions emerging from this study are the ones that effectiveleaders should possess as the discourse on dispositions is constrained by ambiguity. The list fromwhich the participants chose may have contained dispositions that appeared to be similar innature as the definition of one disposition incorporates the definition of another. For example,embedded in the definition of character are respect, fairness, consistency, and integrity. Honesty,respect, and trust are embedded in the definition of ethics. The researchers realize that there is aneed to refine the list of dispositions by collapsing the ones that reflect similar values andmeaning. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the 6 dispositions that surfaced will enhance thepotential success of any leader of today’s schools. Understanding them and their influence in theschoolhouse is a start in the process of identifying dispositions that today’s school leaders shouldpossess.Crafting research that identifies dispositions of effective school leaders is necessary if weare to understand the behaviors that leaders need to exhibit in order to create the type of climatewherein teacher and learning occurs for all students. Futurestudies might examine therelationship of dispositions of leaders in a variety of schools. One study could compare thedispositions of leaders in underperforming schools with those of leaders in high-performingschools. Another study might explore the most preferred dispositions, using a wider sampleincluding participants from urban, suburban, and rural schools.What is critical in leading one of today’s schools is the understanding that leaders have ofthemselves and the people with whom they work and serve (Green, 2010).Fully aware of theprinciples of their disposition, educational leaders can self-reflect, determine how theirdispositions influence the behavior of the people with whom they work and serve, and thebehavior, if any, that they need to change in order to lead more effectively. The goal of schoolleaders is to transform schools into learning communities focused on the academic achievementof all students. One set of dispositions may not meet this challenge. However, the finding of thisstudy offers six dispositions that might be used in the process.ReferencesAvolio, B.J. (2007). Promoting more integrative strategies for leadership theory-building.American Psychologist, 62(1), 25-33. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.62.1.25Barge, J. K., (2009). Leadership: Communication skills for organizations and groups.New York, NY:St. Martin’s Press.Barlow, C.B., Jordan, M.,& Hendrix, W.H. (2003). Character assessment: An examination ofleadership levels. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17(4), 563-584.
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REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER70Melton, T., Mallory, B.J.,& Green, J. (2010). Identifying and assessing dispositions ofeducational leadership candidates. Education Leadership and Administration, 22(4),46-60.Muczyk, J. P., & Adler, T. (2002, October 1). An attempt at a consentience regarding formalleadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(2), 2.National Council for the Accréditation of Teacher Educators. (2002). Professional standards forthe accreditation of teacher preparation instituions. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ncate.org/public/102407.asp?ch=148Northouse, P. ( 2012). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA:SagePublications.Perkins, D. (1995). Outsmarting I.Q.: The emerging science of learnable intelligence. NewYork, NY: The Free Press.Pringle, P. (2007). Top 10 qualities of a great leader (p. IX).Tulsa, OK: Harrison House.Reavis, C. (2008) Dispositions of educational leaders(Unpublished manuscript).Schulte, L. E., & Kowal, P. (2005). The validation of the Administrator Dispositions Index.Educational Leadership and Administration: Teaching and Program Development, 17, 5-87.Southern Regional Education Board. (2011). Measuring a teacher’s value andeffectiveness in SREB states (Policy Brief No. 11E14). Atlanta, GA: Author. Retrievedfrom http://publications.sreb.org/2011/11E14_Value_Teacher1.pdfStrike, K., Haller, E., & Soltis, J. (2005). The ethics of school administration. New York, NY:Teachers College Press.Tirozzi, G.N. (2001). The artistry of leadership, the evolving role of the secondary schoolprincipal. Phi Delta Kappan, 82(6), 434-439.Usher, D. (2002, November). Arthur Combs five dimensions of helper belief reformulated as fivedispositions of teacher effectiveness. Paper presented at the meeting of the First AnnualSymposium on Educator Dispositions, Richmond, KY.Wang, C.,& Bird, J.J. (2011). Multi-level modeling of principal authenticity and teachers’ trustand engagement. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 15(4), 125-147.Waters, T., & Grubb, S. (2004). The leadership we need: Using research to strengthen the use ofstandards for administrator preparation and licensure programs. Aurora, CO: Mid-continental Research for Education and Learning.Waters, J.T., Marzano, R.J., & McNulty, B.A. (2003) Balanced leadership: What 30 years ofresearch tells us about the effect of leadership on student achievement. Aurora, CO: Mid-continental Research for Education and Learning.Wilson, S. M., Floden, R. E.,& Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher preparation research: Currentknowledge, gaps, and recommendations (No.R-01-3). University of Washington: Centerfor the Study of Teaching and Policy (A research report prepared for the U.S. Departmentof Education and the Office for Educational Research and Improvement).AuthorsReginald Leon Green, Ed.D. is Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Educationat the University of Memphis. Dr. Green teaches courses in educational leadership with a focuson instructional leadership, leadership dispositions, school reform, and models for turning aroundlow performing schools. His research interests include school leadership, team building for
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER71effective teaching and learning, superintendent/board relations, school district restructuring, andthe effects of nurturing characteristics on the academic achievement of students.Tonya Cooper is Principal of ChimneyrockElementary School in the Memphis City Schoolssystem in Memphis, Tennessee, and a doctoral student in the University of Memphis’ DoctoralProgram. Her research interests are dispositions of effective school leaders, the merger of schoolorganizations, and the transformation of underperforming high, poverty schools.
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER72AppendixThe Forty-Nine (49) Dispositions DefinedInsight: The school leader is knowledgeable of situations and issues that occur in schools andcan clearly and intuitively determine the complex nature of those situations and issuesfor thepurpose of addressing them in an effective manner (Bossidy & Charan, 2002).Creativity: The behavior of the school leader reveals that he or she has an imagination; his orher ideas are original and can be transformed into reality (Goleman& Kaufman, 1992).Morality: The actions of the school leader are based on moral principles (Strike, Haller, &Soltis, 2005).Support: The school leader conveys to faculty members in words and deeds that they candepend on him or her to assist them in becoming effective instructors (Green, 2013).Reasoning: The school leader has the conceptual and analytical ability to frame problems anddraw conclusions in a manner that leads to an appropriate course of action (Restas cited inSivanathan & Fekken, 2002).Passion: The school leader has an entrepreneurial spirit and an infectious desire to achieve agoal or outcome; a powerful and controlling emotion (Bolman & Deal, 2008).Ethics: The school leader uses a set of principles to guide his or her behavior. The principlesused are based on informal and formal standards consisting of core values, honesty, respect, andtrust (Beckner, 2004).Vision: The school leader is continuously searching for high standards of learning for allstudents; anticipating what will or may come to reality; imagining exciting and ennoblingpossibilities ( Kouzes & Posner, 2012).Intelligence: The school leader has thecognitive ability to learn from experience; to reason well;to remember important information, and to cope with the demands of administering a schooldaily (Sternbergas cited in Huitt, 2002).Communication: The school leader actively listens to diverse points of view and uses theprocess of communication to link individuals, groups, and the organization for the purpose ofbuilding relationships, establishing trust, and earning respect for self and others (Green, 2013).Tact: The school leader displays a sense of what is fitting and considerate in dealing withothers; gives consideration to the feelings of others; has acquired skills necessary to handledifficult and delicate situations without insulting others (Green, 2013).Diplomacy: The school leader hasthe ability to rally people to a greater cause and to persuadethem to function with enthusiasm doing what they already know is the right thing to do(Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2009).
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER73Reliability: School leaders are consistent and dependable. They display high degrees of integrityand are able to analyze obstacles to trust, remove those obstacles, and work with members of theorganization to build a culture of trust, (Galford &Drapeau, 2002).Integrity: The school leader adheres to a set of moral and ethical principles while displayingsoundness of moral character and being honest regarding actions taken. He or she takesresponsibility for his or her actions and is willing to ensure that all students have access toknowledge (Strike, Haller, & Soltis, 2005).Character: School leaders exhibit what they believe. They show consistency between theirvalues, ethical reasoning and actions, and develop positive psychological states, such asconfidence, optimism, hope, and resilience in themselves and their associates. Also, they arewidely known and respected for their integrity (Cooper, Santora, & Sarros, 2007).Fortitude: The school leader exhibits the courage and strength to transform organizations(Riggio, 2009).Imagination: The school leader has the ability to form mental images of real and unreal eventsand to develop different scenarios or different perspectives on those events. He or she can createa fresh situation or series of events that might lead to the identification of a vision (Werhane,1999).Accuracy: The school leader is thorough in accomplishing a task and shows concern for allareas involved, no matter how small. He or she organizes time and resources, monitors workproducts or information, double-checking to ensure accuracy, consistency, and efficiency(Syracuse University, HR Dept., 2012).Influence: The school leader is able to mobilize people around a compelling vision of the future,inspiring them to follow in his or her footsteps. He or she shows people what is possible andmotivates them to make those possibilities reality (Bennis & Nanus, 2003).Trust: The school leader is consistent in words, actions, and deeds, and there are no gapsbetween what he or she says and what he or she does. You can count on him or her to deliver onhis or her promises. An individual can be confident in the promised action (Ciancutti, & Steding,2001).Knowledge: The school leader has an in-depth understanding of school practices, processes, andprocedures and uses this information to move the school toward goal attainment (Green, 2013).Management: The school leader achieves goals and objectives of the school by organizing tasksand assignments and monitoring and evaluating operational systems in a manner that ensures asafe, efficient, and effective learning environment. Routines are followed and goals are achievedin an efficient and effective manner (Bennis & Nanus as cited in Ricketts, 2009; ISLLCStandards, 2007).
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER74Planning: The school leader builds a foundation for teaching and learning to occur and creates aroadmap for successful change when it is needed. He or she outlines and assigns specific tasksthat increase the likelihood of organizational success (Anderson & Anderson, 2010).Timeliness: The school leader takes actions regarding school issues at the appropriate time. Heor she realizes that addressing issues in an expeditious manner is crucial to the success of theorganization (Chaganti & Sherman, 1998;Blanchard & Johnson, 2003).Accountability: The school leader complies with established control systems and holds self andothers accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost- effective results. He or shedetermines objectives, sets priorities, delegates work, and accepts responsibility for mistakes(Kichak, 2008).Judgment: The school leader exhibits wisdom in taking action and making decisions (Bossidy& Charan, 2002).Organization: The school leader leads with a detailed plan. He or she exhibits behavior thatindicates that the necessary time has been devoted to considering alternatives and developingback up plans and contingencies. He or she develops safeguards so that nothing falls through thespaces (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Brody, 2011;Morgan, 1996).Charisma: The school leader has the ability to galvanize people to follow his or her style ofleadership. He or she tends to communicate in a way that is effective in drawing people to him orher through his or her personality (Kouzes & Posner, 2012).Tenacity: The school leader has an inner drive that pushes him or her to get to the heart of anissue and find solutions. As a result of this inner drive, he or she searches tenaciously forinformation that is missing and keeps tweaking his or her mental models until he or she arrives ata position that works (Charan, 2007).Humility: The school leader is aware of self, values the opinion of others, is willing to learn andchange, and share power. He or she has the ability to hear the truth, admit mistakes, and work tocreate a culture of openness. Dissent (a difference of opinion) is encouraged in an environmentof mutual trust and respect (Lawrence, 2008).Dignity: The school leader values the opinion of others, considers all individuals valuable partsof the school organization, and treats them ethically and with respect (Hicks, 2012).Consistency: The school leader establishes a standard of excellence and maintains that standardwhile performing and making decisions. The behavior of the leader is consistent with minimalvariation as he or she transmits a sense of mission, stimulates learning experiences, andmotivates new ways of thinking (Hater & Bass, 1988).Fairness: The school leader gives others a voice and treats them with dignity. They base theirdecisions on accurate information and are consistent in their practices (Sackett, 2011).
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER75Diversity: The school leader works effectively with people across lines of difference which isintegral to creating buy-in and ultimately reaching goals. He or she sets the tone for the groupand helps to foster effective intergroup dynamics (Banks, 2010).Logic: The school leader is in pursuit of knowledge, engaging in analysis, questioning, andreasoning to establish depth of comprehension and understanding about a particular topic(Reardon, Reardon, & Rowe, 1998).Predictability: The school leader consistently provides exactly what is planned and/or expected(Kaufman, 2012).Courage: The school leader challenges the process, experiments, and takes risk. He or she hasthe ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition (Kouzes & Posner, 2012).Decisiveness: The school leader makes decisions and when they are in the best interest of theschool organization, he or she sticks with them in spite of difficult challenges (Smith, & Piele,1997).Equity: The school leader creates and implements programs and strategies that yield successfuloutcomes and advancements for all students (Scheurich & Skrla, 2003).Honesty:The school leader behaves in a trusting or trustworthy manner, exercising integrity(Kouzes & Posner, 2002).Openness: The school leader has the ability to entertain different and non-customary ideas. Heor she is flexible and willing to change his or her way of thinking when the situation warrants.Displaying openness, the school leader finds ways to celebrate the accomplishments of others(Kouzes & Posner, 2012).Adaptability: The school leader is flexible, open to alternatives, and able to adjust to newconditions. He or she is willing to modify his or her position for the sake of other individuals forthe good of the school organization (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Schulte & Kowal, 2005;Wildy &Louden, 2000).Compassion: The behavior of the school leader denotes awareness and a sense of caring for thefeelings of others (Green, 2013).Sensitivity: The school leader is emotionally intelligent and is aware of the impact his or herdecisions and perspectives have on himself or herself and others (Ingram & Cangemi, 2012).Respect: The school leader recognizes the contributions of others and shows appreciation forindividual excellence. He or she treats people in the organization as he or she would like to betreated-with dignity and courtesy (Ciancutti & Steding, 2001;Kouzes & Posner, 2012).Rapport: The school leader aligns his or her actions with others because he or she feels that theyshare similar values (Kouzes & Posner, 2012).
REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER76Credibility: The school leader is viewed by others as being trustworthy, competent, dynamic,inspiring, and accountable. Others view him or her as one who is proficient and competent tostrategically execute the goals of the organization (Matthews, 2010).Commitment: The school leader is dedicated to the growth of the organization and eachindividual within the organization. The professional and personal growth of stakeholders isnurtured (Spears, 2010).Persuasion: The school leader uses verbal and non-verbal communication to connect withpeople and to influence them to assist in the achievement of mutually beneficial results(Williams, 2009).