The History Of Transformational Theory Education Essay

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This study focuses on the perceptions of teachers as to how their principals leadership styles influence school climate and principals perception on their own leadership styles. A school's climate plays a crucial role in student performance and principals are the most vital factor in determining setting of school's climate. Hence, principals' leadership actions warrant investigating.

This qualitative study pointed out principal leadership styles through the perceptions of their teachers. Interactive interviews using questionnaires conducted with selected teachers in various schools. Their responses were then examined, themed and coded to determine a correlation between principal leadership style and impact on school climate. Findings from this study can be used in leadership trainings to acquaint current and hopeful principals with leadership features that would positively influence the school climate as well as student performance.

Chapter One will focus on the introduction and summary of the study. Chapter Two will explore a background of the significant literature that relates to various aspects of leadership affecting school climate. Chapter Three will explain information on methodology procedures used to answer the research questions.

Statement of the problem

The way principals lead has been an issue of discussion, to some extent, in nearly every school system in the nation. Their leadership is a crucial determinant according to Lussier and Achun (2003) there are many theoretical frameworks that give possible justifications of how principals govern their schools. A number of these theories remain unknown in leadership training sessions in most school systems. Therefore, a study providing a thorough analysis of leadership theories and various leadership styles may disclose how principals should govern.

There is a direct correlation between principals' leadership and their impact on school climate. Clabough (2006) discovered that a principals' leadership style has a direct impact on school atmosphere and plays a crucial role in student performance and staff satisfaction. Further investigations show that principal leadership is the most influential on changing and enhancing a schools' climate (Clabough, 2006; Schulman, 2002; Kelly and Williamson, 2006). Nevertheless, some studies on how principal leadership styles influence school climate are determined by the perception of teachers, more than any other staff. For example, Leithwood and Jantzi (1997), Massaro (2000) and Schulman (2002) in their study established that teachers' perceptions were most useful in determining those principal leadership styles that influence school climate, as well as teacher motivation and job satisfaction for the general staff.

However, Massaro (2000) established that principals have a positive impact on school climate; as per a teachers' perspective, there is still need to investigate how teachers perceive their principals' leadership styles and how they influence school climate. This is due to continued change of the political, technological and organizational structures for schools which will influence these perceptions subsequently school's climate.


It is beneficial that principals, as well as teachers, be cognizant of management styles that enhance a school's climate. Moreover, principals should appreciate and embrace those leadership styles and behaviors that teachers perceive as a positive influence or impact on school climate. Because principals and their teachers are both essential to a schools' leadership process, it is beneficial to consider perceptions of teachers because they face similar issues just like their principal.

Organizational and management literature are rich with descriptions of leadership types: formal, team, primal, autocratic, democratic, collaborative, servant, informal, dispersed, shared, assumed, assigned, and contrarian leadership (Sample, 2002). Irrespective of the management style, there are global characteristics portrayed when considering qualities of efficient or effective leaders: relationship and empathy skills, ability to set goals and plan, sense of vision, personal charisma, strong sense of self and personal convictions, the ability to motivate and influence others and strong communication skills (Sample, 2002).

Transformational Theory is a leadership theory that addresses how leaders inspire and motivate their followers to achieve their goals and success in general (Northouse, 2007, pp 176-177). It entails leaders/principals adapting to the needs and demands of those in their sphere of influence that is students and teachers. Transformational leaders are regarded as agents of change who have a good vision and ablactate from the knowledge of those in the institution. Above all, transformational leadership/management depends on the principal's ability to encourage in order to influence others.

Halpin and Croft (1963) define School climate as; feel of a school. Norton (1984) describes school climate as the collective personality of the school. The same way individuals have different personalities, so do schools. Additionally, climate is the human environment within which the principal, staff, teachers and students do their work in a school. Schools have exceptional personalities that are a result of the overall environment. Like the air in a room, climate encloses and influences everything that takes place in an organization (Freiberg, 1983)

School climate is an essential component for school improvement in performance and management. With the enactment and subsequent implementation of NCLB; No Child Left Behind Act, 2002, states have been compelled to focus on improving school outcomes and performance. NCLB has led to increased emphasis on measurement of school effectiveness and state content standards. These particular components of NCLB directly influence the school climate.

Distinctive features of schools, such as the interactions between teachers and students and physical structure of the school, are two distinct factors that both influence and help to determine the broad concept of school climate. Additionally, community support and socio-economic status help to define the image of school climate. However, Leithwood (1997) found that principal leadership/management portrayed the strongest independent impact on structure, planning, organization, school mission and climate.

In general, these climates are an outcome of the principal's leadership style (Freiberg, 1983). Additionally, successful schools that portray high academic standards, collegiality and appropriate leadership provide a conducive climate for student success and achievement (Hoy, Tarter, & Bliss, 1990).

Objectives of the study

The outcome of this study may give a meaningful conception to principals, teachers and the general staff as to how a principal's leadership style affects a school's climate. The final results from this study may motivate principals to examine their leadership styles so as to improve school climate. Teachers, especially those who are hopeful of becoming principals may use the final results from this study to help them in developing their leadership styles. Moreover, teachers, inspiring to become assistant principals or head of departments, may use these results to acquaint themselves with leadership styles that have a positive impact on school climate.

In addition, determining the relationship between principal leadership styles and school climate according to a teacher's perspective will be complimentary work to this topic. Due to the close working conditions of principals and their teachers, the teachers have first-hand information of principal affairs and areas of need for principal advancements as they associate to school climate. Teachers are a crucial component and stake-holders in the schools' day-to-day school operations. They may also have benefitted to some extent from similar educational training to that of principals.

Essentially, principals and teachers must acknowledge that an administrator's leadership style immensely influences the school climate and can induce a learning environment that is contrary and counter- productive or one that is advantageous to optimal student performance. Ultimately, this study also aims at enhancing the research's leadership skills in anticipation for a school leadership role in the future. As a result of expanded knowledge of leadership theories and styles relating to school climate, it is speculated by the researcher's ability to influence student learning as a building leader.

Research Questions

Principals' leadership styles play a critical role in defining the climate of a school. The findings of any analysis of principal leadership styles may help in preparing hopeful principals. Significantly, determining principal leadership styles from teachers' perspective is commendable of scrutiny due to their intimate working relationship with principals and their common training in college. According to Rosenbach and Taylor (1993), for principals to have good teachers, they must give them opportunities to mold and participate in the progress of the institution. Moreover, a principal-teacher relationship is one which is mutually independent (Gabarro and Kotter, 1993).

The most fundamental issue for this study is: What principal leadership styles do teachers perceive as significant to school climate? In addition, three sub-questions are used for this research. The first sub-question will try to establish how principal leadership contributes to the general learning climate of the school with student performance as the important focus. The second sub-question will try to establish how principal leadership participates to the improvement of the overall atmosphere of the school. The third sub-question will try to establish how the principal leadership styles correlates to a secure and orderly learning atmosphere.

Research Procedures

For this research, the researcher used a qualitative research system, using synergistic interviews with various selected participants, teachers, to detect and examine their subjective experience considering their notion of how their principals' leadership styles affect school climate. The qualitative methodology aims to showing people's emotions and encounters from their own perspectives rather than from that of the researcher (Glesne, 2006). Qualitative research allows the researcher in making sense of phenomena in terms of the significations based on the experiences of teachers.

The research was conducted in random schools consisting of traditional, high, middle, elementary, and theme schools to collect data using questionnaires. Within these elementary and secondary schools, there are a total of one hundred teachers and twenty principals that participated in the survey conducted. Each of the schools had one principal and results were therefore, attached to each principal. The survey conducted in five schools to serve as a sample for the whole country schools population. The participants for this research responded positively and were willing to help the research successfully carry out his study. The study was dependent upon receiving accord from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the contributing school system as well as accord for the researcher's university. Nardi (2006) argues that purposive sampling is most suitable when there is a particular need to choose a unique sample on purpose because of some features or behavior that will be scrutinized.

The researcher was being directly involved in data collection and subsequent data analysis. According to Merriam et al (2002), since the primary objective of the research was to comprehend, the human instrument would seem to be the most suitable means of collecting and scrutinizing data because the human instrument has the capability to be immediately retaliating and it is adaptive. This study utilized interactive interviews through questionnaires made of close-ended questions that supplicated the perceptions of the chosen teachers and principals regarding their principals' leadership styles. The survey questions were structured by the researcher on the basis of leadership qualities and styles

That came out of the literature. A reference group of county-level leaders from various sections including personnel, student affairs, curriculum, community and advocacy, budget and finance was used to answer and criticize the questions before the players were interviewed. Additionally, a checklist was used for structuring the questions as required. The checklist contained the twenty-one leadership traits that Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) established to be positively correlated to student performance. Each player answered the opened-ended questions via questionnaires during the interviewing session with the researcher that lasted approximately 30 minutes. Players' responses were unlimited as to their current principals' leadership styles to portray a general view on all principals. They were allowed to refer to a previous principals' leadership style within and outside the county that they worked with previously. The surveys were conducted in a geographical location that is convenient to the players once the teacher or principal conceded to be interviewed.

Qualitative data is a very intensive exercise that requires insight, creativity, sensitivity, conceptual, ingenuity and sheer hard work, Polit & Hungler (1999). It is more demanding and scientific than quantitative analysis. Due to the need of collecting qualitative data; data collection and data analysis occurred at the same time throughout the study. Simultaneous data collection and analysis are beneficial because it enables the researcher to make alterations throughout the study and to test upcoming concepts, categories and themes against subsequent data, Merriam and Associates (2002). The researcher coded and classifies reoccurring themes/patterns that come up from the questionnaire and other documents analysis. These topics were compared to the player's transcriptions to make connections between the principal's leadership styles and school climate. The summary of data was done using a numeration as a visual guide to make the association between the data and sub-questions. The collected responses were analyzed based on leadership topics. The information from the survey was defined and summarized in order to answer the survey questions. Achievements - What you managed to achieve, and how far it meets your objectives


While this study tried to identify teachers' perceptions of their principal's leadership behaviors and styles that influence school climate, there are several other behaviors and styles that effective leaders use to impact their school's climate that may not be included in this research.

Another hindrance is that results from this research may be generalized only to populations similar to schools in Georgia and other Southeastern states. Additionally, an assumption that governs this study is that the perceptions of teachers are honest and accurately represents their perception of principal's leadership styles and school atmosphere. One delimitation of this research is that it only focuses on leadership behaviors and styles of principals at the elementary and secondary schools in one county.


Studies on the significance of principal leadership styles/behaviors and how they influence school climate may be an asset for anticipating future administrators. Earlier mentioned surveys have shown that the style in which principal governs is a determinant of a schools' overall climate. It has also been discovered that a principal's leadership style may influence student performance through school atmosphere and organizational structure. Significantly, a principal's leadership style/behavior exercised the most acute independent influence on structure, planning and organization, as well as on school mission and school atmosphere. I addition, this study is primarily based on the perceptions of teachers.

This research investigated teacher's perceptions of their present and past principal's leadership styles' effect on school atmosphere. Teachers are also equally critical components to the establishment of school climate because they interact either directly or indirectly with leadership of school, and some of their duties are remarkably similar to those of the principal. In addition, teachers have some similar administrative training and skills that allow them to give detailed contributions or perceptions of how they believe principal leadership styles affect school climate.


Literature Review


With the following literature review, it is the goal of the researcher to disclose how theories and previous studies provide a basis for comprehending principal leadership styles and their effect on school climate. The study findings and theoretical examples generated crucial information that helped the researcher in scrutinizing various components of principal leadership including leadership styles, school climate, responsibilities and relationships. This review was essential in establishing questions used for qualitative survey questionnaire that solicits teacher's perceptions on how their principals' leadership style/behaviors influences school climate. Essentially, this review may disclose components of leadership that may compliment in the development of current and aspiring principals.

In this generation of accountability and transparency, principals are required to exercise strong instructional leadership in their institutions. They face the task of increasing student performance while preserving order through acceptable student behavior which may demand altering school climate and culture (Tableman, 2004).

While teachers are at last held responsible for enhancing student learning in schools, altering the organizational conditions for enhancement across schools is the central task of school principals (Halverson, Pritchett, Grigg and Thomas 2005). In Tableman's best exercise brief (2004), principal accountability to instructional leadership is directly correlated to school climate. She states that ―school climate is a significant element in discussions about improving student achievement (Pg. 2). Consequently, school climate accountability is also a crucial feature of the principal leadership.

Effective and efficient leadership and a climate favorable to student's performance are essential to all schools. Effective leadership improves an organization's ability to achieve all goals, including the need to gain a competitive advantage, the need to cultivate ethical behavior, and the need to administer a distinct workforce fairly and reasonably (Moorhead & Griffin, 2004). Bennis (2003) points out four features of effective leadership. Firstly, leaders should have the ability to involve others in the establishment of a shared vision. Secondly, leaders should possess a distinct voice to their followers. Thirdly, a leader should have strong moral behaviors. Finally, leaders should be able to adapt to pressure to adjustment. Bennis argues that these behaviors are essential for institutional leadership in the 21st century.

A crucial study of the relationships between school climate and student performance was reported by Brookover et al. (1979). Focusing on school climate as a common social system of both expectations and norms, the perception of students, teachers and administrators were all taken to account. These researchers established that school climate was better at predicting student performance than were socioeconomic conditions and ethnicity. Consequently, it can be assumed that effective leadership and school climate are positively correlated to student performance.

Leadership Theories

In previous studies of leadership theories, researchers tended to focus on the behaviors and traits of leaders that were portrayed in all leaders. Leadership behaviors and traits that may vary from culture to culture or from the school system to the school system were rarely mentioned (Stogdill 1948).

Additional scrutiny of leadership considered leaders as individuals bestowed with certain personality traits and behaviors which were made up of their abilities to lead. These studies scrutinized individual traits such as intelligence, socioeconomic status, birth order and child-rearing practices (Bass, 1990). More recent studies realized that leadership styles contrast from situation to situation (Blanchard, Hershey, and Johnson, 2008) and contingency theories (e.g., Fiedler, 1967) were formulated, although these theories still did not cover extensively cultural variables (Zepp et al, 2009).

Leadership theories give potential essential explanations of how leadership behaviors and styles evolve (Bass, 1990). Although this research will focus on teacher's perception of how principal leadership styles influence school climate, it is essential to show if leadership styles are purely based on the theory. In addition, theoretical perspectives may be used as a guideline for hopeful principals as they develop and hunt for the knowledge and skills to lead an institution.

Trait Theory

The Trait Theory came forth from the great man theories that focused on pointing out the inherent qualities and qualities by esteemed leaders (Northouse, 2007). Researchers became interested in seeking to establish particular traits of the extraordinary man that distinguish leaders from followers. Consistent set of traits distinguished leaders from non-leaders across a number of situations (Stodgill, 1948). Instead of being a characteristic that individuals possessed, leadership was re-conceptualized as a social relationship. Many of the leadership behaviors that differentiated leaders from non-leaders were compatible with leadership effectiveness (Stodgill, 1974).

Contingency Theory

The Contingency Theory, created by Fiedler (1964) argues that a leader's ability to govern is contingent upon a number of situational factors, such as the leader's preferred style, capabilities and traits of followers and other situational influences. Fiedler created contingency theory by observing the styles of many different leaders working in different environments, primarily military institutions (Northouse 2007). Consequently, Fiedler made empirically grounded conclusions about which style of leadership was most suitable and styles that were worse for a given organizational environment (Northouse, 2007). Fiedler classified leadership as task-motivated and relationship-motivated. Task-motivated leaders are related primarily with reaching a specific goal while relationship-motivated leaders are related with building close personal relationships. Fiedler's Contingency Model helped to determine a leaders degree of leader-member task structure, relations and position power (Northouse, 2007). Contingency theory produces practical procedure for school leaders (Chance and Chance 2002). The Chances believed that comprehending contingency theory will aid school leaders in various ways.

Firstly, this theory aids in identifying outside variables that influence a school. Secondly, contingency theory contributes to appraise the influence of school's organizational structure on reactions to external pressures and desires. Significantly, Contingency theory matches leadership styles with the necessities of the school and consider the association among teachers' personalities and point of view (2002).

Hanson (1979) used the Contingency Theory to education by pointing out five sub-systems of general school systems as leadership, teaching, guidance, students and maintenance. Every sub-system involves the interplay among tasks and people. Technical, political, cultural and economic forces were established as influencing all school systems. Learning institutions often impose tight constraints on various subsystems by imposing standard operation procedures that end up in responses that disregard crucial issue (Hanson, 1979).

Situational Leadership

Situational Leadership Theory is derived from the piece of work of Hersey and Blanchard (1977). The basic hypothesis of this theory is that the leader acquires his leadership style to different leadership circumstances/situations, organizational task and to followers' maturity (Marzano, McNulty and Waters, 2005). According to Northouse, a leader must assess his or her employees to evaluate how dedicated and competent they are to perform any assigned task. At this point, the leader will be able to establish the required leadership style.

Path-Goal Theory

The Path-Goal Theory argues that an employee's motivation, satisfaction and performance are dependent on the leadership style exercised by their superior (House, 1971). According to House and Mitchell (1974), path-goal leadership leads to motivation when it expands the number and kinds of payoffs that employees receive from their work. Northouse (2007) states that "this theory is designed to explain how leaders can aid employees along the path to their goals by choosing specific behaviors that are best suited to employee's needs and to the circumstances in which employees are working".

Transformational Theory

Transformational Leadership is the common word in educational leadership currently. This leadership style was developed by Burns (1978), who suggested a theory of transformational leadership in his book called Leadership. Transformational leadership is a when "leaders and followers help one another to reach higher levels of upright morality and motivation" (p.20). Bass (1985) agrees with Burns that Transformational leadership is the preferred style of leadership given that it is assumed to yield better results beyond stipulations. Transformational leaders form a "relationship of mutual motivation and elevation that changes followers to leaders and may change leaders to moral agents" (Burns, 1978, p.4). Additionally, the transformational leader figures out the vision in a clear and attracting manner, explains how to achieve the vision, acts optimistically and confidently, expresses content in his followers, promotes values with actions, empowers followers to achieve the vision and leads by example (Yukl, 2002).

Bass (1985) provides four factors, also commonly known as the four I's of leadership, which exhibit the behavior of transformational leaders: intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, individual consideration, and idealized influence. Intellectual stimulation is characterized by allowing "followers to think of old challenges in new ways". Individual consideration is characterized by providing "personal attention to individuals who seem neglected in the organization". Inspirational motivation involves communicating "high performance expectations". Finally, idealized influence is involving modeling behavior through extra-ordinary personal achievements, behavior and character (Bass, 1990, p. 218).

With regard to transformational leadership in education, Leithwood (1994) created the transformational model of school leadership. He established that the four I's of transformational leadership, discovered by Bass and Avolio, and are essential for school principals if they are to overcome the challenges of today's schools. Every of the four ―I's of leadership, inspirational motivation, idealized influence, individual consideration and intellectual stimulation, might significantly influence a principal in building the basis for a conducive school climate. Bass and Avolio argue that transformational leaders achieve better results from followers by involving the four I's.

Based on the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, transformational leadership is like to work well in schools. The MLQ questionnaire has been used for over 10 years to test transformational leadership theory (Avolio and Bass, 1994). Although, this instrument has been refined and improved with time. Bass (1998) and Yukl (1999) concluded that transformational leaders get higher ratings and are perceived as leading performing organizations, and move employees to perform better than expected further than transactional leaders. Leithwood (1994) conducted a four-year study of schools going through structural change and established that there is "reasonably concrete support for the idea that transformational forms of leadership will be of acceptable value in the context of a restructuring schools agenda" (p. 515).

Transformational leaders influence a school climate through their concern for staff/subordinates. The leader takes into consideration the needs of others over his own, is consistent rather than arbitrary, shares risk with followers, demonstrates high standards of moral ethical conduct, sets challenging goals for followers and possesses and uses referent powers. The leader arouses individuals' team spirit and enthusiasm. The leader vastly communicates speculations and personally demonstrates commitment to achieving common goals and the shared vision (Avolio and Bass, 1994).

Avolio and Bass also suggest that it is essential for transformational leaders to allow employees to become a contributing component of the decision-making process in schools. Staffs are part of the process of addressing challenges and finding creative solutions, and are motivated to try new approaches with confidence and no fear because of mistakes made previously. Under this form of leadership, teachers receive greater leadership tasks and expanded authority, are involved in increasing teamwork that serves as an interfacing device for the school and engage more in collegial relationships to share information and advise the principal from time to time (Rowan, 1990)

Transactional Leadership

In 1970s, leadership theory research went beyond focusing on several types of situational supervision as a way to improve general organizational performance (Behling and McFillen, 1996). Study has shown that many leaders looked up to a transactional leadership theory which is the most prevalent method of leadership still viewed in today's organizations (Avolio, Waldman and Yammarino, 1991). Transactional leaders govern through specific motivations and encourage through an exchange of one thing for another (Bass, 1990). The theory behind this leadership method was that leader's exchange incentives for employees' compliance, based on bureaucratic authority and a leader's authority within an organization (Yukl, 1998).

Avolio and Yammarino (1991) suggest that transactional leadership focuses on how to manage the status quo and conserve the day-to-day activities of a business, but does not focus on pointing out the organization's directional focus and how subordinates can work toward achieving those goals, increasing their efficiency in compliance with these goals, thus improving organizational profitability. The idea of transactional leadership is cross-eyed in that it does not take the entire circumstance, employee, or future of the organization into consideration when rewarding (Crosby, 1996).

The inherent theory of this leadership method is that leaders bargain rewards for employees' compliance, a concept based in a leader's legitimacy in bureaucratic authority and within an organization (Yukl, 1998). Examples of this reward bargain included the leader's capability to fulfill promises of recognition, advancements and pay increases for employees who perform well (Bass, 1990). Transactional leadership is a theory well thought-out to be value-free; nevertheless, Heifetz (1994) contends that the merits are simply covert.

Leadership Styles

Leadership style is the aspect and approach of providing direction, motivating people and implementing plans (Lewin and White, 1939). Lewin led this study to identify different styles of leadership. The study has been very essential and established three major leadership styles, participative, authoritarian, and delegating. These leadership styles have expanded over the years. The following studies have integrated some aspect of these foundational leadership styles in an exertion to help principals in the elaboration of leadership styles favorable to current educational systems.

The literature on leadership styles (Hershey and Blanchard, 1977) provides some essential clues on principal leadership styles. These leadership philosophers argued that leadership style was a proportionately constant construct for an individual and that while some persons may have the capacity to govern using more than one leadership style, flexibility was not distinctive of all leaders (Williams, 2006). Fiedler and Chemers (1974) believed less in leader's ability to change their styles; Sergiovanni (1991) recommended that under certain situations individuals would conform their leadership style to differing circumstances.

Blake and Mouton developed the Managerial Leadership Grid (1964) which was designed to elaborate how leaders help organizations to realize their functions through two elements: concern for people and concern for performance. Even though concern for performance primarily means how a leader is concerned with realizing organizational task, it can mean whatever the institution is seeking to attain (Blake and Mouton, 1964). Another factor, concern for people refers to how a leader addresses the people in an institution who are trying to realize its goals (Northouse, 2007).

However, many research studies can be classified under the heading of the leadership style approach, the Michigan and Ohio State studies of the 1940's, and the studies by Blake Mouton represent this approach (Northouse, (2007). In the Ohio research employees completed questionnaires that pointed out how many times their leaders were involved in certain types of traits by using the LBD Questionnaire, (Coons and Hemphill, 1957) and a new type of the questionnaire by Stodgill (1963) known the LBDQ-XII. The study found that subordinates' agglomerated around two general forms of leadership behaviors: which were task behaviors, initiating, and consideration (Stodgill, 1974), which were relationship traits.

Studies, while focusing on the influence of leaders' behaviors on the productivity of small groups, pointed out two types of leadership behaviors. One, employee orientation, is the trait of leaders who approach employees with a competent human relations emphasis. Secondly, production orientation is made up of leadership that emphasizes the technical and performance aspects of the job (Northouse, 2007). Consequentially, workers are seen as means for getting work completed (Bowers and Seashore, 1966).

Huffman and Jacobson (2003) carried out a study to establish the relationship between teachers' perceptions of their institutions as professional learning communities and their principal's leadership style (Williams, 2006). The topics of the study were eighty-three expected principals registered in education administration training at a Texas university. Each topic identified his principal as having one of three contingent leadership styles: directive, collaborative, and non-directive. Players in the study rated collaborative-style principals as more appreciative of two key measures of vocational learning communities: conscience - being an organization directed by positive principles, values and ethics and contribution -providing a safe atmosphere for diverse ideas, beliefs, and strategies.

Huffman and Jacob sons' (2003) research draws on study on principals in New Brunswick and utilizes decision-making as its criterion of leadership style (Williams, 2006). The cooperative style is only one of potential leadership approaches. In this research the cooperative style was labeled as the hypothetical style. The directive illustrated by Huffman and Jacobson (2003) was improved to include a directive and a descriptive style. Huffman & Jacobson (2003) explained the laissez-faire style that deals with some features with the behavioral style in this study. Additionally, this particular study aided researchers realize that all leaders are not the same. This is an essential point because the literature on school reform rarely considers the distinct leadership styles that principals introduce to their positions (Williams, 2006).

Instructional Leadership

Besides NCLB (2001) demanding accountability for student performance, but also means that principals become instructional leaders. Based on the legal framework, academic performance and instructional leadership are positively correlated. Particularly, the law requires principals to have the instructional leadership skills to assist teachers and generally improve school's climate, and the instructional leadership skills needed to assist students achieve challenging State student academic performance standards (Title II, Section 2113 46 (c)). For this reason, it is crucial for principals to clearly comprehend instructional leadership. Secondly, if principals can make instructional leaders, will that be effective for them to achieve new accountability requirements. Kotter (1990) supposed that the functions of management and leadership are quite not similar. He presumed that the overriding purpose of management is to ensure order and consistency to institutions/organizations, while the purpose of leadership is to provide change and movement in organizations. Current study on instructional leadership insists the function of the school-based leader in developing people, setting directions, and making the organization work (Leithwood et al., 2004). The principal has the option share the accountability of instructional leadership with other educational leaders by providing resources and guidance for teachers, creating a positive organizational culture, communicating vision and expectations, and professional learning communities, and exhibiting a clear aspect in the school (Leithwood, 2005). Significantly, the principal's instructional leadership traits influence the climate and instructional organization, both of which are connected to student performance (Bossert, et al., 1982). Various studies have established connections between instructional leadership and the school climate (Hoy et al., 1991; Sergiovanni, 1995). Principals' behaviors are proportionally related to school climate, such as teacher advocacy, participatory decision-making, effective communication, and equitable evaluation procedures. According to Yukl (1998), studies usually define leadership depending on their individual future perspectives and the aspects of the circumstance of most interest to them (p. 2). according to Yukl's syntheses of definitions, reflect the presumption that leadership includes a process whereby intentional impact is exerted by one person over other people to structure, guide, and facilitate relationships and activities in a group or organizationâ€-(p.3). Alternatively, Hoy & Miskel (2000) argue that "leadership should be described broadly as a social process in which an individual of a group or organization impacts the interpretation of organization's events, the selection of goals or desired results, organization of tasks, power relations, individual motivation and abilities, and shared orientationsâ€- (p.394).

Instructional leadership is different from that of a school administrator in various ways. Principals who praise themselves as administrators are too involved in dealing with strictly administrative tasks compared to school heads who are instructional leaders. The latter role involves creating clear goals, managing the curriculum, monitoring lesson plans, allocating resources to instruction, and evaluating teachers. Briefly, instructional leadership is those decisions that a principal takes, or allocates to others, to promote improvement in student learning (Flath, 1989). The instructional principal takes instructional quality the preferred priority of the school and tries to bring that vision to achievement. Teacher perceptions help to comprehend how principals' instructional leadership influences classroom instruction. Blasé (2000) did a thorough study of teachers' perceptions about qualities of school principals that impact teachers' classroom teaching have concluded that the traits connected with instructional leadership proportionately influence classroom instruction . The study found that when instructional leaders supervise and provide responses on the teaching and learning process, there were improvement in teacher reflection and relatively detailed instructional behaviors, a rise in introducing new ideas, wide options in teaching strategies, more feedback to student diversity, and more discretion to make alterations. The authors also observed that teachers portrayed positive influences on satisfaction, motivation, and a sense of security. More lately, the definition of instructional leadership has moved in focus toward stronger involvement in teaching and students' learning. Attention has moved from teaching to learning, and some have recommended the term learning leader over instructional leader (Richard, 2002).

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (2001) describes instructional leadership as "leading learning communities where staff members meet regularly to discuss their duties, reflect on their jobs, work together to problem solve, and take accountability for what students learn. They function in networks of common and complementary skills rather than in isolation or in hierarchies.  Instructional leaders also ensure adult learning a preference; set high standards for performance; develop a culture of persistent learning for adults and create community support for school achievement. Blasé (2000) portrayed instructional leadership in particular traits such as giving feedback, modeling effective instruction, making suggestions, soliciting opinions, supporting collaboration, giving praise for effective teaching, and providing professional development opportunities. Blasé (2000) that learning should be the top preference of an instructional leader with focus on the enhancement of learning. Therefore, to gain credibility as an instructional leader, the principal must also be a practicing teacher i.e. leading by example. In the UK, most principals engage an average of 20% of their time every week on teaching (Weindling, 1990). Instructional leaders should know what is happening in the classroom; an opportunity to participate the halls to get first-hand about what is happening within the school as well as the classrooms. Besides, a teaching principal reinforces the belief that "the only purpose of the school is to satisfy the educational needs of scholars" (Harden, 1988, p. 88).

Leadership and School Climate

Various studies have different references for school climate; Hoy et al (1991, p. 10) defined school climate as "the relatively enduring feature of the school environment that is felt by participants, influences their behavior and is based on their combined perception of behavior in schools." Miskel and Hoy (2005, p. 185) define school climate as "the set of internal features that differentiate one school from another and affect the behaviors of each school's members." Kottkamp (1984) described school climate as shared values, commonly held definitions of purpose, and interpretations of social activities.

Principal leadership styles can be connected to the climate of the physical structures. Therefore, effective principal leadership is essential. Researchers have connected principal behaviors to school climate (Bulach, et al); for sure, the school climate can be shaped by the traits and behaviors of the leading principal. Bulach et al. (1998) established that teachers' views of teacher-principal connection were associated to school climate. Principal's behaviors such as teacher advocacy, effective communication, equitable evaluation procedures, and participatory decision-making, and are related to school climate. The productive school movement recognized the significance of quality leadership by continually identifying strong instructional leadership as helpful in creating a school climate favorable to student performance (Grubbs, et al 2002).

A principals' leadership style is likely to cause a disorderly school climate. Welsh (2000), argues disorderly school climate have been ignored and least attention has been given to this phenomenon. Welsh describes the effects of school climate (such as transparency and fairness of rules) and individual student traits (such as sex, race, age, and dimensions of bonding) on different angles of school disorder, including victimization, perceptions of safety, avoidance, offending, and misconduct. He judged that school climate offers significant potential for improving both the comprehending and the prevention of school violence Welsh (2000).

Principal and Teachers Relationship

Power in any organization is based in the ability to manage resources and the access to resources (Peffer, 1992). These resources include relationships, authority, people, and information. The principal is in charge of governing these resources. Because the teachers are part of the principals' authority base, they are advantaged of having a vast understanding of decision-making related to these resources. Moreover, because of the close working relationship between teachers and their principals, the teacher may privy to given demands of principal leadership as it associates to the role of instructional leader (Marshall and Hooley, 2006).

According to Hartzell, Nelson, and Williams (1995), power and authority are relationship entities; every relationship has two sides. The nature of the relationship between the principal and teachers depends on the behavior of both parties. To have a concrete relationship, the principal and teacher need to have clarity associated to each individual's strengths and weaknesses, and the features of personal styles (1995).

John Gabarro and John Kotter (1992); management and personnel researchers; argue that, employees and bosses have unique personality values, structures, and ways of working that have been developed over time, and neither teachers nor the principal can change. Nevertheless, what can alter is how both parties identify characteristics in those structures and systems either impeded or facilitate their abilities to work together. Once teachers are aware of these things, measures can be taken to improve the relationship.

At times relationship between principals and teachers become adversarial when the principal seems to consistently give priority, resources, attention, and recognition to school functions and demands other than those of the teachers (Hartzell et al 1995). A fundamental principal of psychology is that we respond to our perceptions, and self-fulfilling predictions do exist (Eden, 1984). Alternatively, if teachers perceive the principal as a competitor, he will behave differently than if they appreciate the principal as a potential partner in contributing to achieve certain goals.


The opinion of the researcher in this research is consistent with current literature that suggests a principal's leadership style influences school climate. For example, the levels of trust and how decisions are made, the failure to enrich staff, and deal with contradictions are major impacts on a schools' climate. It is essential that schools become places where teachers are involved in school renewal or reform efforts for enhancing the schools and where administrative support motivates the entire staff to model traits that foster collegiality and a professional atmosphere (Bullach, 2006; Northouse, 2007; Tableman, 2004). In addition, the strong connection between the way principals interact with teachers and the general school climate influences the way in which proactive leadership expands. Essentially, the research shows that school climate influences the overall student achievement and performance.



The purpose of this research was to explore teachers' perceptions of how their principal's leadership styles influence the schools' climate. The research is qualitative in design and will include teachers and principals from a suburban school system. The timeline for the research was 6 weeks. Filled questionnaires with each selected teacher were utilized to aid the researcher in comprehending their perceptions of principal leadership styles and behaviors. Although, more than twenty four interview questions were used in the questionnaire, some of the questions were constructed using the results from the literature review. Members of professional development, student affairs, county-level administrators from the curriculum, and the finance departments assisted the researcher in the choosing of the research questions, based on their skills in educational leadership, that were applied for the interviews.

Description of Research Design and Approach

This qualitative study was used to analyze teachers' perception of how their principals' leadership styles influence school climate. Qualitative research methods were utilized to comprehend some social dilemma from the perspectives of those that participated (Glesne, 2006). Qualitative researchers try to comprehend and interpret how the players in a social setting develop the world around them. Creswell (2003) argues that, qualitative research takes place in the natural framework, uses multiple designs of data collections that are humanistic and interactive, generates theories and hypotheses from data that comes up, and requires researchers to make an explanation of the data .This approach will be applied for this study to gain the crucial truths of the lived experiences of teachers (Glesne, 2006).

Justification of Research Design and Approach

There are three design approaches; quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method; the qualitative approach was applied for this study. Qualitative research was applied because the topic of study is a relatively new area of study. There is limited literature to be applied as a guide for establishing how teachers perceive principals' leadership styles and their impact on school climate. Qualitative research can gives room for perceptions as the guide that helps to establish the influence of leadership styles on school climate.

Research questions

The nagging question for this study was: What principal leadership styles do teachers perceive as influential to school climate? In addition three sub-questions were also used for this research. The first sub-question tried to determine how principal leadership adds to the overall learning atmosphere of the school with student performance as the main attribute. The second sub-question tried to determine how principal leadership influences the improvement of the overall character of the school. The third sub-question tried to establish what principal leadership styles correlates most with school climate.


In this study, the researcher was the primary instrument used for data collection and data analysis. Merriam and Associates (2002), suggest that since the primary objective of the study is to comprehend, the human instrument would be the best means of collecting and analyzing data, since the human instrument has the ability to respond and adapt more quickly. This study used interactive interviews made up of close-ended questions that tried to bring out the perceptions of the selected teachers regarding their principals' leadership styles. These questions were created by the researcher getting leadership themes form the review of literature in Chapter Two of this dissertation. Participant response was unlimited as to his current principals' leadership styles so as to include previous principal's leadership style as well.

Data Collection

Polit and Hunglar (1999) suggest that collecting qualitative data is a very demanding activity that requires ingenuity, creativity, insight, conceptual sensitivity and hard work. It is more engaging than quantitative analysis. Due to the need of collecting qualitative data, both data analysis and data collection was conducted simultaneously throughout the research. Merriam et al (2002) say that simultaneous data collection and analysis is essential because it enables the researcher to make alterations throughout the study and to test upcoming themes, concepts, and categories against subsequent data.

Data Analysis

The data was analyzed using various strategies. Firstly, the interviews were performed at the participant's school where they were captured using questionnaires by the researcher. Secondly, the interview questionnaires were read and re-examined for a general understanding of the data. Thirdly, the data was arranged or grouped to b in line with the research questions in order to make the exercise more manageable. The researcher created codes to classify reoccurring themes, or common features that appeared repeatedly on the questionnaires. Maxwell (1996) suggests that themes come from reviewing the literature that has been discussed in chapter two of this study. Themes come from the features of the dilemma being studied. Themes may also rise from consented professional definitions, from researchers' values, from local common-sense constructs, theoretical orientation, and personal experience with the topic matter (Maxwell, 1996).


This Chapter presents a discussion and overview of the methodology that was used in this dissertation research. The methodology used a qualitative study design to comprehend how teachers' perceptions of their principals' leadership styles and how those styles influenced student performance. The researcher used an intentional sample consisting of a number of teachers from elementary and secondary schools in the United States. The researcher performed interactive interviews to comprehend the perceptions of the teachers.


The objective of this study was to point out those principal leadership styles that teachers perceived as critical to school climate. This qualitative research solicited teachers to share their perceptions of their principals' leadership behaviors and styles. The nagging question for this research is: What principal leadership styles do teachers perceive as influential to school climate and other three sub-questions discussed earlier on this study. For this research, principal leadership styles convey the behaviors and actions principals use to direct and impact their staff as well as their schools' atmosphere. This section will present a brief discussion, make recommendations and take into consideration the possible implications for the future.

National and state mandates for enhanced student performance have influenced how principals govern their school. Principal leadership styles should reflect behaviors that affirmatively impact school climate. Since school atmosphere has been found to be correlated to student performance (Tableman, 2004), the effect of principal leadership styles on school atmosphere was considered. In addition, Clabough (2006) established that a principals' leadership style has an effect on school climate and performs a critical role in student performance and subordinate satisfaction. With this research, the researcher's intention was to establish how principals' leadership styles influence school climate. This establishment was done by looking for the perceptions of their teachers.

This qualitative research was completed by performing individual interviews with each participant in their respective schools. None of the interviews were breached the participants' regular assigned duties at their schools. The findings in this research which were connected with the review of literature presented earlier in this dissertation. The researcher found that there was an identifiable connection between the results and the review of literature. From the findings of the research yielded nine prevailing principal leadership styles pointed out by the participants that were used to answer the research questions: involvement in curriculum, instruction providing resources, monitoring and evaluating, communicating, building relationships, utilizing situational awareness, maintaining a safe and orderly environment, being visible, and growing leaders.