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  1. 1. The Relationship between Leadership Effectiveness, Organizational Culture, and Program Focus Larry McNeal, PhD University of Memphis Joris Ray, EdD Memphis City Schools ABSTRACT This study investigated the relationships between leadership effectiveness, culture,program focus, and job satisfaction. A survey was distributed to 850 principals, teachers,and educational support staff in public alternative schools in Tennessee. Of that number,388 (45.6%) responded. The study yielded several findings. First, staff educational levelswere related to perceptions of leadership effectiveness. Second, the ethnicity of some staffcorresponded with perceptions about school focus. Third, professional status andexperience were related to culture. Fourth, culture and leadership effective culture wererelated. Finally, a relationship existed between leadership effectiveness, culture, programfocus, and job satisfaction.Key words: role of principals; leadership effectiveness; education level; ethnic groups The role of today’s school principal is significantly different from that of the principals oftwo decades ago (York, Barr, & Duke, 2004). Today, schools contain a myriad of problems,including violence, fewer resources, higher absenteeism, increasing dropout rates, reduction inacademic performance, complexity of student needs, influence of gangs and gang behavior, andreduced graduation rates (Kearney, 2008). These issues have influenced the public’s expectationsof the principalship. Public expectations of the principalship have increased beyond the professional task ofbeing the instructional leader (Bauer, Haydel, & Cody, 2005; York et al., 2004). Principals mustnot only possess strong instructional skills but also be capable of managing a variety ofresponsibilities and duties, such as building schools that promote teaching and learning for allstudents (McCain & Jukes, 2001). Schools that promote powerful teaching and learningenvironments develop a culture that supports these efforts and have a clearly articulated programfocus. According to Marzano (2003), developing culture involves the creation of cooperativeenvironments among staff within the context of a shared sense of purpose together with theexecution of other responsibilities. Deal and Peterson (1994) note that the most effective changein culture happens when principals, teachers, and students model the values and beliefs most 46
  2. 2. important to the institution. Principals who act with care and concern for others are more likelyto facilitate the development of a culture that reflects these values and promotes job satisfaction(Srivastava & Pratap, 1984). Such facilitative leadership exercises power through others, not over them (Huffman &Jacobson as cited in Williams, 2006). The issues of leadership effectiveness, culture, programfocus, and job satisfaction pose some fundamental questions for educators. For instance thesequestions emerge: What is the relationship between leadership effectiveness and culture? Arethese two variables related to program focus? Is job satisfaction also related to leadershipeffectiveness, culture, and program focus? This study investigates the relationship between thefour variables using a state-wide sample of school staff. MethodologyDesign The variables in this study were school staff perceptions of the relationships betweenleadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and job satisfaction. The study used acorrelational research design method. Correlational research is a quantitative method in whichtwo or more variables from the same group of subjects are examined to determine if there is arelationship between them (Creswell, 2009). If a relationship exists, then the significance of therelationship is determined using correlational statistics.Sample The population for this study was members of the Tennessee Alternative EducationAssociation that represented the 119 school systems that operate at least one alternative school.This diverse group includes urban, suburban, and rural school districts in West, Middle, and EastTennessee. The sample was comprised of principals, teachers, and educational support staff. Thesurvey was sent to 850 principals, teachers, and support staff. Almost 46% (388) of staffmembers responded. The demographics showed that most of the schools (N=16, 44%) camefrom counties in the western part of the state, followed by the eastern (N=11, 31%), and middle(N=9, 25%) parts of the state. The largest number of schools were rural (N=29, 88%) withsuburban (N=4, 11%) and urban (N=3, 8%) schools representing a much smaller portion. Theethnicity of respondents varied with Whites being the largest group (N=155, 50%), respectivelyfollowed by African-Americans (N=136, 44%), Asian Americans (N=9, 3%), Multi-Racial andOthers (N=5, 2%), and Hispanic/Latino (N=3, 1%). Females were the largest group ofrespondents (N=182, 59%) followed by males (N=126, 44%). A number of respondents had botha bachelor’s and master’s degree (N=108, 35%), but others had a master’s +45 hours (N=58,19%), or educational specialist degrees, (N=27, 9%) with a smaller number holding a doctoratedegree (N=6, 2%). The overwhelming majority were teachers (N=236, 77%), followed byprincipals (N=44, 14%), assistant principals (N=7, 2%), and others (N=21, 7%) which consistedof counselors, librarians, program coordinators, and other support personnel. The typicalrespondent had slightly more than 13 years of experience with 6 years of that in an alternativeschool setting and almost 5 years at their current school.Data Collection 47
  3. 3. The Tennessee Alternative School Questionnaire (TASQ) survey instrument was used inthe study. The TASQ was based on the earlier research of Cameron, Quinn, DeGraff, & Thakor(2006) who developed the Leadership Effectiveness Assessment Device (LEAD). This identifiesobservable behaviors and maps such behaviors into a comprehensive model of organizationaland leadership effectiveness called the Competing Values Framework (CVF). In addition, theCompeting Values Culture Instrument (CVCI) presents a set of questions related to a school’sculture (Quinn, 1988). The Competing Values Framework was based on statistical analyses of a comprehensivelist of effectiveness indicators which were grouped into two major dimensions (Quinn &Rohrbaugh, 1983). The first dimension is related to organizational focus from an internalemphasis on the well-being and development of people in the organization toward an externalfocus on the well-being and development of the organization itself. The second dimensiondifferentiates the organizational preference for structure and represents the contrast betweenstability and control and flexibility and change. Together, the two dimensions form fourquadrants. Each quadrant represents one of four major models or organizational and managementtheories (Quinn, 1988). The Human Relations Model places emphasis on flexibility and internalfocus. It stresses cohesion, morale, and human resources development as criteria foreffectiveness. The Open Systems Model emphasizes flexibility and external focus and stressesreadiness, growth, resources acquisition, and external support. The Rational Goal Modelemphasizes control and an external focus. It regards planning, goal setting, productivity, andefficiency as being effective. Finally, the Internal Process Model emphasizes control and internalfocus, and it stresses the role of information and management, communication, stability, andcontrol. The Tennessee Alternative School Questionnaire (TASQ) was developed to gatherdemographic, leadership effectiveness, school culture, program focus (academic or behavior),and job satisfaction data. The initial version of the questionnaire was developed by researchersfrom the University of Memphis (Allen, Franceschini & Lowther, 2010). Specific behavioralitems aligned with the CVF and leadership were identified. To establish content validity, theresearchers used principals and professors versed in educational leadership and CVF literature.The items were also tested for structural validity by a panel of teachers who were not versed inleadership or CVF literature. Related items were sorted into eight groups. The panel grouped75% (six out of eight items per role) of the items. The remaining 25% were incorrectly groupedbut were identified with a CVF role and were edited for greater clarity (Allen, Franceshini, &Lowther, 2010). The instrument was first used in a study of school leadership in implementingtechnology in K-12 school settings in Michigan in 2008. Demographic items (geographical region, school type, ethnicity, educational level,professional status, and experience) were added to the questionnaire. The TASQ was distributedto staff in 119 school systems. The sample was comprised of principals, teachers, andeducational support staff of Tennessee alternative schools. The survey was distributed to 850principals, teachers, and educational support staff. Almost 46% (388) returned a survey. Findings 48
  4. 4. In order to understand how each subgroup category impacts ratings of leadershipeffectiveness, a multiple regression analysis was performed. The tested model included sevenindependent variables (ethnicity, gender, education level, professional status, total educationalexperience, alternative school experience, and experience at present alternative school). Theseven variables were put into the model at the same time, using the ENTER method. The tableincludes beta weights, standard errors, and t-values for the demographic variables. All together,the seven category variables accounted for almost 9% of the variance in perception of leadershipeffectiveness (R2 = 0.088). Results for the model are in Table 1.Table 1Regression Analysis Summary of Respondent Demographic Variables Predicting School Orientation (N =308)Variable B S.E.B. B tGender 0.07 0.16 0.03 0.47Professional Status -0.06 0.23 -0.02 -0.26Educational Level 0.07 0.11 0.04 0.67Ethnic Group -0.55 0.16 -0.20 -3.47 ***Educational Experience 0.00 0.01 -0.01 -0.20Total Alternative School Experience 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.27Experience at Present Alternative School 0.04 0.03 0.12 1.35Note. R2 = 0.055, (p <.05)*p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001 The extent to which staff members perceived their schools to be academically orbehaviorally focused by gender, professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experiencewas also tested using a regression model. Again, the ENTER method was used; however, theseven categories only accounted for approximately 6% of the variance in respondents’ ratings ofschool orientation (R2 = 0.055). The only category showing a significant impact on ratings ofschool orientation was ethnicity (t = -3.47, p <.001). Results for this model are in Table 2.Table 2 49
  5. 5. Regression Analysis Summary of Respondent Demographic Variables Predicting Mean LeadershipEffectiveness (N = 308)Variable B S.E.B. B tGender -0.04 0.10 -0.02 -0.38Professional Status -0.01 0.15 0.00 -0.05Educational Level 0.16 0.07 0.14 2.35 *Ethnic Group -0.42 0.10 -0.23 -4.07 ***Educational Experience -0.01 0.01 -0.09 -1.29Total Alternative School Experience 0.02 0.02 0.12 1.31Experience at Present Alternative School 0.00 0.02 0.02 0.19Note. R2 = 0.088, (p <.001)*p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001 To ascertain the extent to which staff perceived four different types of organizationalcultures to be represented at their schools by gender, professional status, educational level,ethnicity and experience, scores were obtained on multiple measures of culture. MultivariateAnalysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used to determine whether significant group differenceswere obtained, first, in an overall or multivariate sense, and, second, for four measures of cultureindividually examined or in a univariate sense. Displayed in Table 3 by gender, professionalstatus, educational level, and median experience are the various means and standard deviations.Table 3 50
  6. 6. Means and Standard Deviations for Four Measures of Culture by Demographic Variables Human Open Internal RationalVariable Relations Systems Processes Goal n M SD M SD M SD M SD GenderMale 126 135.0 72.4 80.3 40.0 99.6 61.4 90.8 43.1Female 182 144.8 72.1 80.3 43.3 92.8 64.5 87.9 46.7 Professional StatusTeachers/Others 257 136.3 68.2 81.0 42.8 96.9 62.7 90.8 43.7Principals/Assistants 51 163.4 87.2 76.6 37.2 88.7 65.9 80.5 51.8 Educational LevelBachelor’s 108 130.0 71.4 79.9 43.2 102.5 64.3 93.4 42.8Master’s 108 144.5 68.9 81.0 44.4 94.3 62.4 88.8 49.6Above Master’s 92 149.0 76.2 80.0 37.5 89.0 62.8 84.4 42.7 EthnicityAfrican-American 136 145.0 65.7 82.7 37.9 89.4 49.2 89.8 39.7Others 172 137.4 77.0 78.4 44.9 100.5 72.1 88.5 49.3 Total Educational ExperienceLess than Eleven Years 150 129.6 72.3 79.6 45.4 99.4 60.2 94.4 46.2Eleven or More Years 158 151.4 70.8 80.9 38.4 92.0 65.9 84.0 43.9 Total Alternative School ExperienceLess than Five Years 148 129.8 65.6 76.2 44.8 103.1 61.0 96.8 44.7Five or More Years 160 151.0 76.6 84.1 38.8 88.6 64.5 81.9 44.7 Experience at Present Alternative SchoolLess than Three Years 117 129.7 69.0 75.5 42.1 102.8 57.9 96.6 44.8Three or More Years 191 147.6 73.5 83.2 41.6 91.2 66.0 84.4 45.0 Shown in Table 4 are the results for the independent variables having exactly two levels,and in Table 5 are the results for the independent variables having more than two levels. Asshown in the tables, neither multivariate nor univariate group differences were observed for theindependent variables, gender, ethnicity, and educational level. Although no multivariate group 51
  7. 7. differences were observed for professional status and median experience at present alternativeschools, univariate differences were observed for these two variables. Table 4 Multivariate and Univariate Analyses of Variance F Ratios for Four Measures of Culture by Gender, Professional Status, Ethnicity, and Experience ANOVA Human Open Internal Rational Variable MANOVA Relations Systems Processes Goal F(4, 303) F(1, 306) F(1, 306) F(1, 306) F(1, 306) Gender 0.43 1.37 0.00 0.86 0.30 Professional Status 2.06 6.11* 0.46 0.73 2.18 Ethnicity 1.95 0.83 0.78 2.37 0.06 Total Experience 2.80* 7.09** 0.08 1.04 4.16* Total Alternative School 2.44* 6.74* 2.77 4.06* 8.51** Experience Experience at Present 1.95 4.52* 2.46 2.47 5.36* Alternative School *p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001 Table 5 Multivariate and Univariate Analyses of Variance F Ratios for Four Measures of Culture by Educational Level ANOVA Human Open Internal Rational Variable MANOVA Relations Systems Processes Goal F(8, 604) F(2, 305) F(2, 305) F(2, 305) F(2, 305) Educational Level 0.88 1.94 0.02 1.17 0.98 Discussion 52
  8. 8. Based on the data relative to perceptions of school leadership being effective by gender,professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experience, there were two categories thatshowed significant relationships to leadership effectiveness. Both the educational levels andethnic groups of the respondents showed significant impact. This finding indicates that African-Americans, more than any other ethnic group, rate leadership effectiveness higher. Literature issilent about this kind of relationship. The data also shows that as the educational level of therespondents increased, the higher the ratings were for leadership effectiveness. This revelation isconsistent with the literature (IEL, 2000; Leithwood, Harris & Hopkins, 2008; Leithwood &Jantzi, 2005). Staff’s perception of their schools being academically or behaviorally focused by gender,professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experience showed only one significantfinding. The only category showing a significant impact on the ratings of program focus wasethnicity. African-Americans perceived alternative schools to be more academically focused thandid other ethnicities. Although research reflects little documentation on alternative schools andprogram focus, the Tennessee Department of Education (2006) does encourage school districts toprovide more academically-based instructional programs for students in alternative educationsettings, but this does not explain the ethnicity difference. In regard to the staffs’ perceptions by gender, professional status, educational level,ethnicity, and experience of the four different types of cultures being represented at their school,the findings show four significant responses. These were all related to human relations: (1)professional status, which had a significant impact on how respondents rated their schools interms of a human relations culture; (2) experience, which level had an impact on human relationsratings; (3) experience with alternative schools, which had a significant impact on humanrelations, and (4) for present alternative school experience, respondents with three or more yearshad higher human relations ratings than did those with fewer than three years of experience. Asindicated by the data, perceptions of a human relations model triumphed over the other threemodels. This model emphasizes building teamwork and cultivating employee’s skills andcompetencies (Harris, 2001; Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1983). The results also show a relationship between culture and leadership effectiveness. Thehuman relations and open systems models were more closely aligned with leadershipeffectiveness for reasons previously mentioned. In addition, results indicate a relationship amongleadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and satisfaction. Respondents indicate that jobsatisfaction was significantly related to all three variables. As leadership effectiveness increased,so did reported job satisfaction levels. Human relations and open systems culture also showedpositive relationships with satisfaction; when the program focus was more academic, jobsatisfaction increased. In addition, in schools where the program focus was staff who are moreacademic, higher levels of job satisfaction were reported. Conclusion This study investigates the relationship between leadership effectiveness, school culture,program focus, and job satisfaction. These relationships underpin efforts to improve teaching andlearning for all children. They are also concerns of educators as they ponder the task ofcontinued school reform. Lessons from this study provide some insight into the nature ofrelationships and the importance of them for building successful schools. These relationships are 53
  9. 9. at the core of an ever changing educational environment where principals are expected to bemore than instructional leaders, teachers to do more than teach, and support staff to be more thanquiet cheerleaders on the sidelines. The new focus is on developing a professional learningcommunity where responsibility for teaching and learning is shared with all (DuFour & Eaker,1998; Hord, 1997), and ownership of educational processes belongs to all stakeholders. ReferencesAllen, L.E., Franceschini, L., & Lowther, D. (2010). Proceedings from InSITE ‘2010: The role of school leadership in a large-scale student laptop implementation. Bari: Italy.Bauer, S.C., Haydel J., & Cody, C. (2005). Teaching leadership and teaching leaders. Retrieved from, K.S., Quinn, R.E., DeGraff, J., & Thakor, A.V. (2006). Competing values leadership: Creating value in organizations. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.Deal, T.E., & Peterson, K.D. (1990). The principal’s role in shaping school culture: Research in brief. Retrieved from, R., & Eaker, R. (1998). Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service.Harris, A. (2001). Building the capacity for school improvement. School Leadership & Management, 21(3) 261-270.Hord, S. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Retrieved from for Educational Leadership. (2000). School leadership for the 21st century initiative: A report of the task force on the principal. Retrieved from, C. A. (2008). An interdisciplinary model of school absenteeism in youth to inform professional practice and public policy. Educational Psychology Review, 257-282.Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2008). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. London, England: London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education.Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (2005). A review of transformational school leadership research 1995-2005. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 4(3), 177-199.McCain, T., & Jukes, I. (2001). Windows on the future: Education in the age of technology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Marzano, J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Quinn, R. E. (1988). Beyond rational management. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Quinn, R.E., & Rohrbaugh, J. (1983). Analyzing organizational effectiveness and leadership roles. Retrieved from, S.K., & Pratap, S. (1984). Perception of job satisfaction and organisational climate. Perspectives of Psychological Research, 7, 41-43. 54
  10. 10. Tennessee State Department of Education. (2006). Alternative education program for self- assessment instrument form: Alternative education program level. Retrieved from, R.B (2006). Leadership for school reform: On principal decision-making styles reflect a collaborative approach? Retrieved from, J., Sommerness, J., Duke, K., & Ghere, G. (2004). Special educators in inclusive education programs: Reframing their work as teacher leadership. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9(2) 193-215. AuthorsLarry McNeal is Chair of the Department of Leadership at the University of Memphis.Joris Ray is an administrator with the Memphis City Schools in Memphis, Tennessee. 55