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The research is clear that principals have a significant impact, positively or negatively, on student learning. Researchers such as Fullan (1993, 2003, 2005, 2008), Fullan and Crevola (2006), Marzano (2005), and Whitaker (2003), have written about the power of the school leader in increasing student achievement. Meanwhile, business literature is full of data that correlate effective managing leading to high performance and profitability. Buckingham (2005), Buckingham and Coffman (1999), Bennis and Biedemer (1997), Bellamy, et al. (2007), Blanchard and Hodges (2003), Blanchard (2007), Boyatzis and McKee (2005), and countless other researchers have well documented the strong correlation between the level of engaged workforces and the level of the performance of business units. According to the aforementioned literature, employee engagement is proven to increase business results. Gordon (2006), Rath and Clifton (2004), Rath (2006), McEwan (2003), DuFour, et al. (2005) and others showed the importance of having enthusiastic and engaged teachers and its relationship to positive learning results. This chapter investigated a) the movement toward instructional leadership and away from building management, b) the importance of employee engagement in business and school, and c) the best practices of managers in business.
The Rise of Instructional Leadership
In an early meta-analysis of the effectiveness of the principal, Persell and Cookson, Jr. (1982) reviewed more than 75 research studies and reports in order to address the question of why some principals were considered more effective than others in running good schools. This study identified recurrent behaviors that good principals displayed. The study found that good principals consistently demonstrate a commitment to academic goals and create climates of high expectations. Effective principals function as instructional leaders who consistently evaluate results. The study concluded that effective principals are identified as dynamic leaders who consult effectively with others in creating initiative and are disciplined when marshaling resources. This was one of the first studies to use the term instructional leader in describing the role and responsibility of the principal (Tucker & Codding, 2002).
Outlining the responsibilities of the principal, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (1986) issued a list of 74 proficiencies grouped into 10 categories: a) leadership behavior, b) communication skills, c) group processes, d) curriculum, e) instruction, f) performance, g) evaluation, h) organization, i) fiscal, and j) political. This elevated the focus of the principal with regards to curriculum and instruction.
In a landmark study, Andrews and Soder (1987) documented four key interactions between principals and teachers that effect student performance. One of these keys describes the principal as an instructional resource. Teachers count on their principals as resources of information on current trends and effective instructional practices. Instructional leaders are tuned into issues relating to a) curriculum, b) effective pedagogical strategies, and c) assessment. Andrews' and Soder's findings showed that schools perceived to be led by strong instructional leaders scored significantly better than those perceived to be led by average or weak leaders.
Cawleti (1987) described the essence of instructional leadership centering around four technical tasks: a) curriculum development, b) supervision of teaching, c) staff development for improved teaching, and d) teacher evaluation. By focusing on these tasks, student learning would improve.
Stronge (1988) found that a typical principal's day is characterized by multiple managerial tasks and diverse functions, including a) clerical, b) budgetary, and c) other generalist tasks. Strong stated that converting principals into instructional leaders would require a drastic role redefinition.
Blase and Blase (1999) presented findings which emphasized that effective instructional leadership integrates a) collaboration, b) peer coaching, c) inquiry, d) collegial study groups, and e) reflective discussion into a holistic approach to promote professional dialogue among educators.
Summarizing the instructional leader role, Sergiovanni (1998) stated that principals who are instructional leaders need to be knowledgeable about a) learning theory, b) effective instruction, and c) curriculum. In addition, the instructional leader needs to be able to communicate and represent to students, teachers, and parents what is important and valuable in the school. He or she was viewed as a symbolic force. Finally, the instructional leader is skilled in the actual construction of a culture that specifically defines what a given school is all about.
One of the most important roles of an instructional leader is to coordinate the professional learning opportunities within their schools (Stronge, 2008). Professional teaching practices have an enormous impact on student achievement. "Unfortunately, there is an enormous gap between professional development about effective teaching practices and the actual implementation of those practices" (Reeves, 2006, p. 100). Pollock and Ford (2009) described the important role that principals play in improving student learning. Goal setting, accessing prior knowledge, varying ways of delivering new information, applying the new information, and having the ability to generalize and summarize illustrate the focus of these principals.
The educational leader assumes the role of clinical practitioner, bringing expert professional knowledge and bearing as they relate to teaching effectiveness, educational program development, and clinical supervision. The clinical practitioner is adept at diagnosing educational problems: counseling teachers; providing for supervision, evaluation, and staff development; and developing curriculum. (Sergiovanni, 2007, p.8)
According to Sergiovanni (2007) educational leaders a) advocate for a well-articulated curriculum, b) give time to plan for delivery, c) expect varied assessments, and then d) give criterion based feedback regarding a teacher's performance.
As important as this role of instructional leader is to the success of a school, however, it is not the only role that effective principals must play. Whitaker (2003) wrote in his study of effective principals and the differences in their beliefs and actions:
One critical difference was that effective principals viewed themselves as responsible for all aspects of their school. Though these principals regularly involved staff, parents, and others in decision making, they believed it was their responsibility to make their school the best it could be. Regardless of whether situations arose within the school or as a result of outside factors such as budget cuts or school board decisions, the more effective principals saw themselves as the ultimate problem solvers (p.15).
In this study, Whitaker identified 15 things that matter most to effective principals. Only six of these "things" related directly or indirectly to instructional leadership:
It's people, not programs
Who is the variable?
Treat everyone with respect, every day, all the time
The principal is the filter
Teach the teachers
Hire great teachers
Focus on behavior, then focus on beliefs
Loyal to whom?
Base every decision on your best teachers
In every situation, ask who is most comfortable and who is least comfortable
Understand high achievers
Make it cool to care
Don't need to repair - always do repair
Set expectations at the start of the year
With so much of the remainder of the task list of effective principals not directly related to instructional leadership, multiple additional roles of the principal must be addressed.
The Other Important Roles of the Principal
The other three keys of the landmark study by Andrews and Soder (1987) describe the non-instructional leadership roles of the principal: a) the principal as resource provider, b) the principal as communicator, and c) the principal as visible presence. This study concluded that it is not enough for principals to know the strengths and weaknesses of their faculty but also to recognize that teachers desire to be acknowledged and appreciated for a job well done. Effective instructional leaders need to communicate essential beliefs regarding learning such as the conviction that all children can learn and no child should be left behind. When leading the instructional program of a school, the principal must have a commitment to living and breathing a vision of success in teaching and learning. This includes a) focusing on learning objectives, b) modeling behaviors of learning, and c) designing programs and activities on instruction.
The principal is charged with a) facilitating administrative vision, b) demonstrating concern for students' learning processes, and c) relating to faculty, staff, and community in a cooperative environment (Moorthy, 1992; Silins, 1992). The quality of relationships is a critical leverage point for principal effectiveness in bringing about school improvement (Institute for Education and Transformation, 1992).
Sergiovanni (1996) argued that schools are inherently moral enterprises, demanding that principals have skill in nine areas a) purposing (transforming shared vision into a moral purpose), b) maintaining harmony, c) institutionalizing values, d) motivating, e) managing, f) explaining, g) enabling (removing obstacles), h) modeling and i) supervising.
Recognizing that principals face increasingly complex interactions with a wide constituency, Portin (1997) offered data which revealed a clear need for shared leadership and the ability of the principal to build the leadership capacity of others within his or her school. According to McEwan (1998), while researchers have generated different sets of descriptors of effective principals, one variable always emerged as critically important: the leadership ability of the building principal. Alvy and Robbins (1998) pointed out that "juggling the many roles of the principalship has become more complicated in this site-based era because one must use a more collaborative leadership model and serve as a community liaison, instructional leader, and the chief financial officer" (p. 60).
According to Lashway (1999), schools have always needed strong leadership, but the stakes have never been higher than they are today. Teachers, parents and students all look to the principal for decisions, interpretation of policy, and leadership in the school (Ganter, et al., 1999). The Institute for Educational Leadership (2000) asserted:
The bottom line of schooling, after all, is student learning. Everything principals do - establishing a vision, setting goals, managing staff, rallying the community, creating effective learning environments, building support systems for students, guiding instruction, and so on - must be in service of student learning (p. 6).
Whitaker (2003) studied effective principals and found that outstanding principals know that when they have great teachers, they will have a great school. Whitaker asserted that there are two ways to improve schools: get better teachers or improve the ones you have. The best principals hire for talent. Whitaker also found that the best principals meet the individual needs of teachers rather than providing one size fits all management. The best principals view themselves as responsible for every aspect of their school. These principals assure that teachers clearly know the expectations for their professional performance. The best principals also know the expectations for their own performance and are willing to share these expectations publically. The best principals find it impossible to give too much praise to teachers (Whitaker, 2003). Great leaders decide what to do, and then they seek support to get things done (Owings & Kapplan, 2003). They want their teachers to be more excited about teaching tomorrow than they were today. These leaders' core beliefs force them to always look for what is best for all students.
Training can transform the practices of principals. Tucker and Codding's (2002) research examined the challenge of leading and managing schools in an era of accountability. Based on thorough analysis, the authors imagine a new kind of institution, the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL), which trains school principals to be "turn-around artists." Drawing on the new forms of executive development programs in our business schools, they propose a similar program for school principals. Today, NISL offers high-quality, research-based professional development programs designed to give principals the critical knowledge and skills they need to be instructional leaders and improve student achievement in their schools. This transformational approach involves a close collaboration between the NISL and the school district, combining face-to-face instruction with web-based delivery. Very similar to the best approaches in business and industry, the innovative curriculum NISL describes a) carefully developed cases, b) simulations, c) games, d) action projects, e) seminars, and f) journaling. They offer a clear conception of a) what it might mean to be an instructional leader, b) a way of thinking about what it takes for a principal to be a strategic thinker, c) an approach that principals can use to take advantage of the best current thinking on knowledge management and professional development, d) a conception of the principal as school designer, e) an emphasis on the use of data to drive planning, and f) a host of tested ideas that principals can use to lead their schools to better results (National Institute for School Leadership, 2010).
In studying the qualities of effective school leaders, Davis (2006) found that leaders of high-performing school districts shared similar qualities. They establish a clear and powerful message that high student achievement is a responsibility shared by everyone in the school. These leaders restructure and redefine the roles of personnel. They willingly admit when student achievement did not reach their goals. They have instilled a vision that is focused on student achievement and guided by instructional improvement. They commit to collaboration at all levels. The leaders of these schools understand that there are no quick fixes and that making a positive difference takes time. These leaders diligently work to reduce distractions and continually focus staff attention and energies on instruction. They are committed to sustaining reform over the long haul (Davis, 2006).
When leading for transformation, DuFour, et al. (2005) observes that the best school leaders focused their professional learning on what they think, say, and do. This consistency creates clarity. They translate learning into action through thought, word, and deed. The leaders talk and walk match. These leaders work to address lack of clarity, resignation, and dependency by developing new views for teaching and learning (DuFour, et al., 2005). Effective change leaders understand better than most that change, "especially structural and cultural change is a messy business involving considerable risk, the necessity for sacrifice, and the likelihood of setbacks" (Schlechty, 2001, p. 165). Change leaders advocate and use various modes of interactive teaching. They utilize collaboration to ensure that teaching, student learning, and relationships are significantly improved. Skillful leadership on the part of principals and teachers is essential if professional learning communities are to "fulfill their primary function of continuously improving the quality of teaching, learning and relationships in schools" (DuFour, et. al. 2005, p.174). Principals in transformative schools create core leadership groups. These are cross-sections of the teaching faculty and many times include noncertified staff. The leadership team's first priority is to initiate and sustain an ongoing conversation of school change based upon effective strategies proven by research. This engages a wider circle of stakeholders and allows virtually no limit to what the school could improve (DuFour, 2005).
Fullan (2008) purported that leadership is not about making clever decisions and doing bigger things for personal gain. Leadership is about energizing other people to make good decisions and do better things. "Effective leadership inspires more than it empowers; it connects more than it controls; it demonstrates more than it decides" (p.16). Effective principals develop leaders at all levels. Principals influence student learning by a) setting directions: shared vision and group goals, b) developing people: individual support, intellectual and emotional stimulations, and c) redesigning the organization: building productive relationships, cultures, and structures. The job of administrative leaders is primarily about enhancing the skills and knowledge of people in the organization. The principal needs to create opportunities for teachers to engage in continuous and sustained learning about their practices. Led by this type of leader, Fullan commented that professional staffs "mobilize themselves to be all over given practices that are known to make a difference" (p. 28). When teachers engage in frequent, continuous, and increasingly concrete and precise talk about teaching practices, school achievement is most surely and thoroughly achieved. Such teacher talk builds a shared language necessary to understand the complexity of teaching. So, by rearranging the role of principals from management to leading learning communities, the leaders: a.) elevate instruction as the mainstay of their role, b.) explicitly figure out how to delegate managerial tasks to others, and c.) ensure that the instructional work is carried out through distributive leadership (Fullan, 2008).
Fullan (2005) also encouraged principals to develop sustainability in their schools. This sustainability is a public service with a moral purpose. It is committed to change at all levels and works to build lateral capacity, which is extending outward beyond the walls of a single building. Sustainability develops intelligent accountability and vertical relationships. In pursuing sustainability, principals are committed to deep learning through short and long term goals. They tirelessly work to raise the capability of their teachers. In this model, leaders are the stewards of organizational energy. They inspire or demoralize by how effectively they manage their own energy and focus. Effective school leaders do not fear accountability. They are committed to high-yield strategies for changing teaching and learning. A hunger for improvement, high hopes and expectations is pervasive in the school culture. Leaders focused on sustainability promote excellence, pushing the boundaries of achievement by making sacrifices to ensure pupils' needs are put first above all else. These leaders encourage trust-building relationships with parents at every level of their school, and they build community networks and partnerships (Fullan, 2005).
Fullan (2003) wrote of principals that "one of the greatest strengths one needs, especially in troubled times, is a strong sense of moral purpose" (p.19). He observed a four level structure of making a difference beginning with level one, individuals, and progressing to level four, societal. Fullan's research talks about transforming the current school system so that large-scale, sustainable, continuous reform is inherent. Principals in level two, the school, have the moral imperative to lead deep cultural change that mobilizes the passion and commitment of the teachers, parents, and others to improve the learning of all students (Fullan, 2003).
Fullan (2003) encourages principals to not get lost in how-to questions and to always remember why they are instructional leaders. "Leadership is about getting more out of life by putting more into it and putting yourself and your ideas on the line, responding effectively to the risks, and living to celebrate the meaning of your efforts" ( p. 63).
Fullan's (2003) research identified three types of trust that principals need to build: a) competence, b) contractual, and c) communication. Competence trust respects people's a) knowledge, b) skills, c) abilities, and d) judgment. This type of trust is built by a) involving others, b) seeking their input, and c) helping them learn new skills. Contractual trust develops through a) managing expectations, b) establishing boundaries, c) delegating appropriately, and d) honoring agreements. Consistency is important, and mutually serving intentions are encouraged. Communication trust is enlarged by a) sharing information, b) telling the truth, c) admitting mistakes, and d) maintaining confidentiality.
Fullan (2003) stated that "good teaching may be possible in a school in which there is weak and ineffective leadership, but it's harder to achieve. Change and sustained improvement are impossible without good educational leadership" (p. 95). In order to accomplish this type of transformation, the role of the principal needs to change.
Lambert (2003) discussed this change of principals' roles. This research advocated that principals move from directive, laissez-faire, or even collaborative models of leadership to a capacity-building model; a model that expands the ability of the organization. This shift would require principal leaders to break the dependency of traditional uses of authority. This study found fifteen essential behaviors for principals who build capacity. Lambert (2003) concluded that the principal must:
Know himself and clarify his values,
Extend these understandings to the school and staff,
Formally and informally assess the leadership capacity of the school,
Vow to work from the school's recent state and walk side-by-side with staff toward further improvement,
Establish mutual understanding with staff about decision-making rules,
Develop a shared vision,
Develop capacity in others,
Establish the leadership team as a design team,
Convene and sustain conversations about teaching, learning, and leading,
Establish a cycle of inquiry,
Create goals and plans of action for student learning,
Hone communication processes,
And develop a reciprocal relationship with district personnel
Lambert summarizes that principal leadership is essential to the development of leadership capacity in schools.
Hessel and Holloway (2004) noted that school leaders must believe that their mission is to educate all students and to give them the opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values that are essential for them to become successful adults. This vision of learning is based upon essential values and knowledge that are the foundations for student success. The principal's vision of learning drives personal goals and program objectives. The effective leader communicates this vision to students, staff, parents and the community, demonstrating the importance of powerful instructional practices (Hessel & Holloway, 2004).
Educational researchers, mentioned in this review, zeroed in on practices of principals that truly lead schools to improved student learning. They clarify expectations. They recognize achievement and praise effort and accomplishments. They listen. They develop shared visions. They establish schools where the staff feels important. They analyze teacher practices and communicate accurately. They encourage professional learning. They position teaching staff where they can fully utilize their talents. They know themselves, their core beliefs and moral responsibility, very well.
In reality, however, the principal remains middle management. Most of his or her daily tasks are not directly related to instructional leadership. There is a dearth of educational research relating to how principals would most effectively address the daily managerial tasks and responsibilities delegated to them allowing them to focus on the important role of instructional leadership. But, business oriented literature is full of best practices in management providing leaders with strategies and models that allow them to accomplish similar task list leading to improved performance.
Leadership for Organizational Transformation
Today more than ever before, Buckingham and Coffman (1999) stated, if a company is bleeding people, it is bleeding value. In order to find how businesses attract, focus and keep talented people, Gallup conducted over 80,000 interviews with managers and compared the results of these interviews to the over 1,000,000 employee interviews. Gallup sorted through mountains of data looking for patterns and for questions that would define strong workplaces. Surprisingly, questions about compensation and benefits failed to make the cut while unlikely little questions like "do I know what is expected of me at work" forced their way to the forefront.
Once the study was completed, Buckingham and Coffman (1999) reported that Gallup compared identical businesses to find why one would outperform. They compared stores that had consistent shopping experiences. The building, the layout, the product positioning, the colors, every detail was honed so that a store in Atlanta would have the same distinctive brand identity as a store in Phoenix. The difference was the manager. The results were compelling. In the studied companies, the business units were measurably more productive where the employees were engaged at a higher level than those business units that were less engaging. Excellent front-line managers had engaged their employees and these engaged employees had provided the foundation for top performance. According to Buckingham and Coffman (1999), engaged employees in high performing workplaces enjoy a) clarity, b) the right materials, c) the opportunity to do what they do best, d) recognition, e) care for their well-being, f) encouragement of growth, g) input, h) a sense of importance, i) quality commitment of co-workers, j) friendship, k) feedback, and l) opportunities to learn. Leaders need to create guiding coalitions of key individuals that have a) the influence, b) the expertise, c) the credibility and d) the leadership ability to follow through. Developing vision and strategies to accomplish it are important to leading change. Leaders need to develop a picture of the future for people. Communication of this change vision is vital. Using metaphors, analogies, and examples helps explain the simplicity of a change vision. The leader needs to "walk the talk" (p. 95). By empowering employees for broad-based actions, change occurs more quickly. Guided by clear parameters of action aligned fully to the vision and with having been provided the appropriate training, empowered employees engage in change at high levels. For the change process to endure, short term wins must be generated. This provides employees with evidence that efforts are working and maintains engagement. The change process then progresses to consolidating gains and producing more change. This is similar to a snowball rolling down hill. As change occurs, other changes are caught up in the momentum created. Success breeds success, and change occurs more quickly. Finally, it is important to anchor new approaches in the culture. This builds sustainability. Effective leaders are aware and fully adept at the change process (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999).
In Boleman and Deal's (1995) seminal work, great leadership is characterized by four gifts: a) the gift of love, b) the gift of authorship, c) the gift of power, and d) the gift of significance. While pressures of immediate tasks and deadlines often crowd out personal needs, leaders need to listen, care, and ultimately show love by reaching out. While absent from modern corporations, accepting anguish and vulnerability, the companions of love, are both accepted and appreciated. Giving authorship to employees turns the organizational structure on its head. A leader's influence is expanded because trusting people to solve problems generates higher levels of motivation and better solutions. Similarly, when power is given, people will work toward common causes at higher levels. Power is the ability to influence others and is only meaningful in relationships with others. Significance is symbolically built through rituals, ceremonies, icons, music, and powerful stories. When these are genuine, they fire up imagination, evoke insight and touch the heart. Great leaders embrace and fully utilize these gifts. Implemented properly, the four gifts should become cyclical and self-supporting when they become embedded in the cultures of strong organizations (Boleman & Deal, 1995).
Goleman, et al. (2002) described how leaders' primal or natural abilities cause specific leadership styles. They noted six types of leaders:
When changes require a new direction, visionary leaders move people toward shared dreams.
To help employees improve performance, coaching leaders connect what a person wants with the organizational goals.
To heal rifts in teams or to motivate during stressful times, affiliative leaders create harmony by connecting people to each other.
When buy-in or consensus is needed, democratic leaders value people's input and get commitment through participation.
To get high-quality results from motivated and competent teams, pacesetting leaders set challenging and exciting goals.
In a crisis or to kick-start a turn around, commanding leaders soothe fears by giving clear direction in an emergency.
Each of these leadership styles are appropriate at different times and are valuable. Each develops a different type of resonance in the organization (Goleman, et al., 2002).
Effective leaders must manage their stress levels closely. Boyatzis and McKee (2005) continued Goleman's study and talk about the choices leaders who create resonance, the ability to emotionally move people, must make in order to remain in sync with those around them. Leaders who create resonance understand emotional intelligences: a) the competencies of self-awareness, b) self-management, c) social awareness, and d) relational awareness. They manage themselves well and know that emotions are contagious. They have empathy and are able to read people. They also get results as people are quick to follow. Leaders make great sacrifices; however, when the leader sacrifices too much for too long and reaps too little results, they can become trapped in a "sacrifice syndrome" (Boyatzis & McKee, 2005, p. 6). Over time, exhaustion sets in, leading to burn out or burn up, and dissonance is created.
To combat dissonance, leaders must enter into a cycle of sacrifice and renewal. Great leaders focus attention on a) developing their intellect, b) understanding and managing emotions, c) taking care of their bodies, and d) attending to the deep beliefs that feed their spirit. This renewal begins with a) mindfulness, b) hope, and c) compassion (Boyatzis and McKee, 2005, p. 8). Mindfulness is the full, conscious state of being aware of self, others, and the work. Hope enables us to believe that the future that we imagine is attainable, and compassion is acting on the feelings stirred within. The dynamic relationship between mindfulness, hope, and compassion sparks positive emotions that enable us to maintain resilience in the face of challenge (Boyatzis and McKee, 2005).
Best Leadership Practices in Business that Raise Employee Engagement
Corporate literature describes the power and importance of great managers and great leaders. Yet, there are simply too many people who occupy leadership positions and have neither the calling nor the gifts of leadership (Hesselbien & Goldsmith, 2006). So, studying the characteristics of leaders who are successful is vitally important. "Great managers are revolutionaries, although few would use that word to describe themselves" (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999, p. 11). These managers embrace the revolutionary insight that "people don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough" (p. 57).
Managers play the catalyst role in the organization and are strategic in their use of the four keys designed to unlock the potential of each and every employee: a) when selecting someone, they select for talentâ€¦not simply experience, intelligence, or determination, b) when setting expectations, they define the right outcomesâ€¦not the right steps, c) when motivating someone, they focus on strengthsâ€¦not on weaknesses, and d) when developing someone, they help him find the right fitâ€¦not simply the next rung on the ladder" (p.54).
In addition, multiple studies have identified actions of managers that raise employee engagement leading to better productivity and performance. This study identified 21 business management practices that have been shown to raise employee engagement and in so doing lift the a) productivity, b) performance, c) profitability, d) customer satisfaction, and e) employee retention. The following pages introduce, describe, and document the research that supports 21 business practices shown to raise employee engagement.
Establish Clear Expectations. Clarity is critical to the success of any organization, in businesses and in schools. Bellamy, et al. (2007) observed that all principals use mental models to connect the daily work of improving student-learning to long-range school goals. These models provide a lens to bring into sharper focus the responsibilities of teaching and learning, helping staff make sense of the complexities of school; thus, allowing teachers to know what is expected of them from their principals (Bellamy, et al., 2007).
Lencioni (2000) said healthy organizations minimize the potential for confusion by clarifying a) why the organization exists, b) which behavioral values are fundamental, c) what specific business it is in, d) who its competitors are, e) how it is unique, f) what it plans to achieve, and h) who is responsible for what. Organizations that achieve clarity experience unity in everything they do. "While some of these questions seem esoteric and others tactical, all of them are important. The key is that at any given point in time, a healthy organization can point to an unambiguous answer for each question. Without those answers confusion and hesitation begin to invade an organization" (p. 155). Collins (2001) provided many examples of how companies identify and use core values to guide the decisions. Referring to Bill Hewlett's leadership of Hewlett Packard:
The "HP Way", as it became known, reflected a deeply held set of core values that distinguished the company more than any of its products. These values included technical contribution, respect for the individual, responsibility to the communities in which the company operates, and a deeply held belief that profit is not the fundamental goal of a company. (p.193)
Developing a list of commonly held values, like the ones listed at HP, assists in providing clarity (Collins, 2001).
Provide Supplies Needed for Employees to Do the Job Right. Having the appropriate or right materials directly correlates to employee retention; however, "the research suggests that the link between employee opinion and employee retention is subtler and more specific" (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999, p.33). Schools struggling with finances may see meeting this need, because of lack of funding, to be a severe challenge in the future (Pennsylvania School Boards Association, 2012).
Give Employees the Ability to Do What They Do Best Every Day. People thrive when they get to do what they do best every day (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999). As in engaged business units, when teachers are highly engaged in their work, they have a much higher likelihood of helping their students score higher on standardized tests (Gordon, 2006). Unengaged teachers lead to mediocrity. As stated before, Buckingham and Coffman (1999) said that "people don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough" (p. 77).
Give Out Praise and Recognition for Doing Good Work Liberally. Buckingham and Coffman (1999) found that regular praise and recognition correlates directly to profitability and productivity. The intrinsic rewards that employees feel when they are acknowledged for their work create a culture where performance is important. Rice (2005) stated
a culture that operates with ethical intent at every level is created by leaders who model desired behaviors, not by employees who follow policy. Paperwork that satisfies the scrutiny of regulators won't inspire the contribution you need from every employee. Encourage people to do the right thing, even when no one is looking (p. 2).
Deming (1988) noted the importance of supervisors providing encouragement to employees when raising performance.
Ensure that Employee's Feel Cared For. In a seminal work on Total Quality Management, Deming (1988) said that it is critical for effective organizations to "drive out fear" (p.24). Fear creates intrinsic worries that leave workers insecure and unable to perform at their very best. Deming found that the most effective way to drive out fear is to make people feel cared for. Making employees feel cared for and valued takes concerted effort. Without it, fear begins to creep in. Workers need their managers or supervisors to demonstrate care for them at work (Deming, 1988).
Encourage Individualized Professional Growth. Maxwell (2005) believes that no other responsibility is as great for site leaders as regularly talking about and encouraging progress of the employees. Professional development is a long term process. It is important to discover each person's dreams and desires and then lead them differently based on these. Organizational goals need to frame the plan for employee training and should include self-analysis (Maxwell, 2005). Deming (1988) stated that it was essential for businesses to institute on the job training in order to transform business effectiveness. He advocated instituting strong programs for education and self-improvement.
Assure that Employee's Opinions Count. Valuing employee opinions positively impacts profitability and productivity (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999). Constantly, mediocrity begs for administrative attention. It is difficult to spend time with the best performers on a staff. The research, however, shows that investing in the best employees is the only way to reach excellence:
For great managers, the core of their role is the catalyst role: turning talent into performance. So when they spend time with an employee, they are not fixing or correcting or instructing. Instead they are racking their brains, trying to figure out better and better ways to unleash that employee's distinct talents (p. 154).
When teachers are given a voice, they feel empowered, confident, and responsive (McEwan, 2002). Teachers feel empowered when they have decision making roles in their schools. This raises the level of engagement.
Create a Mission that Makes Employees Feel Important to its Accomplishment. The mission of an organization is critical to establishing a sense of belonging and is related to productivity (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999). Lencioni (1998) talked about the power of clarity of purpose or vision in answering in no uncertain terms, a series of basic questions pertaining to the organization: a) why does the organization exist, and what difference does it make in the world, b) what behavioral values are irreplaceable and fundamental, c) what business are we in, and against whom do we compete, d) how does our approach differ from that of our competition, e) what are our goals this month, this quarter, this year, next year, five years from now, and f) who has to do what for us to achieve our goals this month, this quarter, this year, next year, five years from now? Developing a mission that connects people with purpose is essential (Lencioni, 1998).
Encourage Employee's Commitment to Quality Work. Co-workers committed to doing high-quality work enhance workplaces. "Great groups tend to be collegial and non-hierarchical, peopled by singularly competent individuals" (Bennis & Biederman, 1997, p. 11). The best of these collaborative groups are a) vibrant, b) filled with energy and ideas, and c) fueled with talented people playing for high-stakes and often on deadlines. Members of these groups are fully engaged in the discovery process, easily evidencing high levels of commitment. DuFour, et al., (2004) called collaborative teams the basic structure of the professional learning community.
Some organizations base their improvement strategies on efforts to enhance knowledge and skills of individuals. Although individual growth is essential for organizational growth to occur, it does not guarantee organizational growth. Thus, building a school's capacity to learn is a collaborative rather than an individual task (p. 26).
Fullan (1993) stressed their importance:
The ability to collaborate - on both a large and small scale - is one of the core requisites of postmodern societyâ€¦in short, without collaborative skills and relationships it is not possible to learn and to continue to learn as much as you need in order to be an agent for social improvement. (p. 17)
Stronge (2007) noted that effective teachers work collaboratively with other staff members. "They are willing to share ideas and assist other teachers with difficulties" (p. 29). These same teachers regularly volunteer to take leadership roles in work teams and in mentoring. They are committed to assuring that the commitment level of their peers is high, and they serve as powerful examples for others (Stronge, 2007).
Encourage Employee's Friendship with Peers. Buckingham and Coffman (1999) noted that one of the more surprising results of the meta-analysis of thousands of employee surveys was the importance of having best friends at work. It impacts both customer service and productivity (p. 265). Relationships are important. While having a best friend at work was a surprising component included in the survey, it does make some simple sense. If employees like the people with whom they are working, they probably will like their job more, be more productive, and have a higher attendance rate. In Vital Friends, Rath (2006) wrote:
As our research team studied thousands of workgroupsâ€¦we started to notice new patterns in the data. It was clear that friendships were vital to happiness and achievement on the job - yet we could also see that most individuals and organizations were falling short (p. 71).
Rath's research noted that "without a best friend at work, the chances of being engaged in your job are 1 in 12" (p. 54). Rath's research also showed that if a person has a best friend at work, he or she is significantly more likely to: a) engage your customers, b) get more done in less time, c) have fun on the job, d) have a safe workplace with fewer accidents, e) innovate and share new ideas, f) feel informed and know that opinions count, and g) have the opportunity to focus on his or her strengths each day (p. 53). Therefore, creating a business environment that allows and enhances strong relationships between co-workers is best for the bottom line. It has a powerful and positive impact on business outcomes (Rath, 2006).
Talk Semi-Annually about Individual Employee's Progress. Leaders need to be ready to have hard conversations about performance and willingly celebrate the right wins. The goal of this type of development is to prepare employees for leadership of others (Maxwell, 2005). To be most effective, performance reviews should be done three or four times a year. Frequent reviews allow for more comfort in the process that enhances growth potential. Two performance appraisals per year is the minimum standard for increasing engagement (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999). The objective of quality appraisals through management supervision is to simply help people do a better job (Deming, 1988).
Give Employees the Opportunity to Learn and Grow. Buckingham and Coffman (1999) noted that learning and growing is a natural instinct for human beings. A simple search for ways to be more efficient at our jobs leads to learning and growth. When growth exists, innovation is also present. Learning and growing at work leads to positive perspectives toward the company, ourselves, and others. Profitability is enhanced when employees have the opportunity to regularly learn and grow (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999). Deming (1988) felt that it was everyone's job in the organization to accomplish transformation.
Be a Catalyst for Change. Maxwell (2001) elaborated on the catalyst describing this role of leadership as intuitive: a catalyst senses an opportunity and as a result, the team benefits. The catalyst communicates effectively and is passionate about what they do. They have great talent for initiating changes. They creatively solve problems and have a deep responsibility for their business. The catalyst is generous, willingly giving of themselves to carry something through to completion. They are influential (Maxwell, 2001). Buckingham and Coffman (1999) noted that great managers have the ability to speed up the process of getting talented people to reach the goals of the team.
Have a Strong and Predictable Character. Zenger and Folkman (2002) researched the importance of individual integrity in leadership. They described specific and predictable behaviors, calling them tent poles, which extraordinary leaders tend to share. They metaphorically described these shared behaviors as a "leadership tent" (p. 53): the center tent poles of character, and the other four tent poles of a) personal capability, b) focus on results, c) leading organizational change, and d) interpersonal skills. These tent poles represent the key strengths of individual leaders, especially those who have distinguished themselves. As each skill is developed, the tent poles raise, lifting the broad canvas of the tent. By lifting more than one pole attribute at a time, a leader's capacity is raised (Zenger & Folkman, 2002).
The most powerful lifting force in this metaphor, according to this research, is that of the leader's character. If people were given low marks in character, they would "absolutely not be perceived as great leaders" (Zenger and Folkman, 2002, p. 57). Maxwell (1999) described character as more than talk. While talent is a gift, character is a choice and brings lasting success with people. Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character. "Your character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do. That's why you can never separate a leader's character from his actions" (p. 4).
Have a Strong Moral Code. Bennis and Beiderman (1997) observed that the members of great groups need to know that the person at the top will "fight like a tiger for them" (p. 135). He found that the integrity of the leader allows team members to absolutely count on them. These leaders have a) strong moral cores, b) strong families, and c) a sense of purpose that allows them to care deeply for their groups. They have great respect for the people who are parts of their groups. The leaders of these great groups are respected for their authority, unswervingly claim ultimate responsibility for their failures, and share credit for successes plentifully with its members (Bennis & Beiderman, 1997).
Build Trust. Trust building is essential for leaders. Covey (2006) quoting Joe Paterno said "whether you're on a sports team, in an office or a member of a family, if you can't trust one another, there's going to be trouble" (p. 11). When a leader has a lower level of trust, speed of change slows and costs rise thus demonstrating the economics of trust. The inverse is then true also; when a leader engenders trust, speed increases and costs are lowered. High levels of trust pay large dividends. When trust is high, the dividend received is like:
a performance multiplier, elevating and improving every dimension of your organization and your life. High trust is like leaven in bread, which lifts everything around it. In a company, high trust materially improves communication, collaboration, execution, innovation, strategy, engagement, partnership, and relationships with all stakeholdersâ€¦Obviously, the dividends are not just increased speed and improved economics; they are also in greater enjoyment and better quality of life. (p. 19)
Covey affirms that the key competency of the new global economy is the leader's ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders. Extending trust to others rekindles the inner spirit. "It touches and enlightens the innate propensity we all have to trust, and to be trusted. It brings happiness to relationships, results to work, and confidence to lives" (Covey, 2006, p. 322).
Establish a Compelling Vision. Blanchard (2007) showed that a compelling vision allows a leader to create a strong culture in which the energy of everyone in the organization is aligned. "This results in trust, increased customer satisfaction, an energized and committed workforce, and profitability" (p. 23). His research indicated that there is an extraordinary impact on profitability when companies have shared visions. These shared visions must include a) significant purpose, b) a picture of the future, and c) clear values in order to inspire. The significant purpose is a deep and noble sense of purpose that inspires excitement and commitment. When work is truly meaningful and connected to desired outcomes, creative power and productivity is unleashed at levels higher than could be imagined. An effective vision always comes back to leadership. Once a vision is agreed upon, the leader's role is to ensure that people throughout the organization are responsive to it. The leader's responsibility is to support employees by removing barriers, ensuring that a) policies, b) practices, and c) systems are in place to make it easier to accomplish the vision (Blanchard, 2007).
Create a Sense of Urgency. Kotter (1996), in seminal studies for the Harvard Business School, researched businesses and identified reasons why transformation fails. Kotter developed an eight step process to successfully lead change: a) establishing a sense of urgency, b) creating the guiding coalition, c) developing a vision and strategy, d) communicating the change vision, e) empowering employees for broad-based action, f) generating short-term wins, h) consolidating gains and producing more change, and i) anchoring new approaches in the culture. To successfully lead organizational change, a sense of urgency must be established. This is crucial to gaining needed cooperation and directly challenges complacency (Kotter, 1996).
Be Concerned About Your Legacy. Most leaders are concerned, or at least aware of their legacy. Kouzes and Posner (2006) described four thoughts on legacy building: a) significance, b) relationships, c) aspirations, and d) courage. "Exemplary leaders are more interested in others' success than their own." (p. 10). They understand that everyone wants to feel significant, and they work tirelessly to accomplish this. Leadership is about relationships. No matter how much power or authority the leader is given, people will follow only when they are cared for, listened to, and developed. "Leadership isn't about selling your vision; it's about articulating the people's vision" (p. 91). A leader must have aspirations that are far removed from what they will get in life. These aspirations are for a greater good. Finally, a leader must be courageous. Courage is a virtue and is called upon if the leader is to enact anything that is significant (Kouzes and Posner, 2006).
Execute Plans Well. While leaders are different in their training, experience and personality, they are best known for what they get done. Bossidy and Charan (2002) call this essential leadership component execution. Their research found that these leaders engage in essential behaviors. They insist on realism by squarely facing uncomfortable situations. They set clear goals and priorities. They follow through by keeping their employees focused on the agreed upon goals and holding people accountable for results. They reward the "doers" (p. 73) in the organization. They expand people's capabilities through coaching individually and collectively. In the execution model, it is absolutely critical that leaders pay attention to the strength of their character and they have the "emotional fortitude" (p. 78) to be open to whatever information, good or bad, they need to hear. They are authentic, self-aware, and humble. They display ego free self-mastery. These leaders get the behavior they exhibit and that which they tolerate. These leaders get things done (Bossidy and Charan, 2002).
Focus on Strengths. While researching great managing, and great leading, Buckingham (2005) found that people in successful relationships find the most generous explanation for each other's behavior and believe it. Great leaders rally people to a better future. They a) pick good people, b) set clear expectations, c) recognize excellence and praise it, and d) show care for the people they lead. Great managers work hard to discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it. Great leaders do the inverse. They discover what is universal and capitalize on it. While they recognize the importance of individuality, they would rather focus on a separate but equally powerful truth that "despite our differences, we all share a great deal" (p. 133).
Buckingham (2005) learned that in order to sustain success, leaders need to discover what they do not like doing and stop doing it.
Every minute you invest in an activity that grates on you is a poorly invested minute. It is a minute in which you will learn little and that will leave you weaker and less resilient for the next minute. It is a minute you could have spent applying and refining your strengths, a minute in which you could have taken leaps of learning and that would strengthen you for minutes to come. (p. 259)
Leaders need to exploit their strengths. Sustained success means making the greatest possible impact over the longest period of time. Something special must leave the room when the great leader leaves the room. To develop a lasting impact, leaders find the right tactics and employ them. They find their flaws and fix them, and they discover their strengths and cultivate them (Buckingham, 2005).
All of these 21 best practices in business management have been shown to transform businesses and applying them results in: a) improved profitability and productivity, b) increased customer service, and c) decreased employee turnover. These practices raise employee engagement. So, if these practices are applied in schools, will the level of teacher engagement be impacted?
A Snapshot of Engaged Teachers
Lesko (1986) noted that engagement can be conceived of as the character and outcomes of the on-going relations among a) the students, b) the teacher, and c) the curriculum. This relationship is characterized by movement and action. It is not likely to be static. Engagement is the interaction of parts; movement in relation to one another that cause thoughtfulness, seeing great complexities, or when the light bulb goes on (Lesko, 1986). An indicator of engagement includes the sharing of a lot of ideas and a desire to accomplish them. Gordon (2006), however, talks about the fallacy within the "Horatio Alger's" effect: the belief that anyone can excel at anything. This has a powerful appeal, but beneath the surface, the presumption actually robs us of our individuality. It suggests that we are all blank slates with identical potential. To fully engage the staff, schools must fully understand all of its members. Knowledge and skills form the basis of most districts' hiring decisions and training programs.
The assumption maintains that selecting and developing teachers and principals on the basis of their knowledge and skills is the most reliable way to promote student success. In reality, success is far more likely to hinge on the innate talents of the teacher, such as his or her ability to build strong relationships with students. (Gordon, 2006, p. 114)
Engagement then revolves around utilization of strengths and the system's ability to manage around non-strengths. Knowledge can be acquired. Skills can be sharpened. Talents are the natural predisposition to success. A strength wells out of things that people love to do by combining knowledge, skills, and talents. They are the components of our work that make us excited, highly engaged, attentive, and happy (Gordon, 2006).
Because of high testing standards, teachers are forced to use teaching methods and adopt programs that may not be congruent with their own philosophies. This has a negative impact on teacher affect. Armstrong (2006) noted that autonomy is an important aspect of human development. When it is taken away, teachers feel disempowered and unengaged. In order to maintain high levels of employee engagement, workers must be respected as experts in their crafts and given the ability to make significant choices in how they apply it. The idea that the effectiveness of outstanding teachers is driven by innumerable combinations of a) talents, b) knowledge, and c) skills immediately leads to the realization that there are no cookie-cutter versions of great teaching. All outstanding teachers are similar in one respect. They leverage their natural talents (Gordon, 2006).
Blanchard and Hodges (2003) summarized the importance of character of the leaders within organizations and the impact of character on its members:
Our public leadership behavior and habits as experienced by others will determine how they follow. When heart, heads, hands, and habits are aligned, extraordinary levels of loyalty, trust, and productivity will result. When they are out of alignment, frustration, mistrust, and diminished long-term productivity are the result." (p. 15)
Fullan, et al. (2006) developed a framework centered upon the moral purpose of leadership. Growing out of this inner core are three leadership functions of a) personalization, b) precision, and c) professional learning. These form the basis for how leaders respond to a) assessment, b) school organization, c) classroom teaching, d) professional learning communities, e) intervention and assistance, and f) community partnerships. Much research exists regarding effective leadership practices in business and considerable research also identifies the traits of high quality management. Principals are essentially middle management and, thus, should benefit from utilizing the list of effective practices noted in business management research. The study that follows examined principals' perceptions of these best practices in business and their perceived impact on raising teacher engagement.