School Leadership. A Qualitative Analysis in a Cape Verdean Private School

Academic Paper, 2017

16 Pages, Grade: B



1. Introduction

2 Literature Review
2.1 Literature Review

3. Methodologies
3.1 Sample population
3.2 Plan for data analysis

4 Data Analysis

5. Conclusion

6. References

Abstract — Leadership is very significant in education, and it is one of the most important skills an educator and any school personnel should have. In addition, being an effective school leader is extremely important to successful teaching and learning process, and effective leadership plays an important role in the whole school achievement. The purpose of this study is to know the behavior of a Cape Verdean private school leader, his ability of communication, organization, and self-assessment in order to identify if he has an efficient style of leadership and if so, to demonstrate if his leadership actually works as an added value in institutional terms. The participant of this study is a Director of a private education institution that promotes educational activities from 1st cycle (7th and 8th grade) to the 3rd cycle (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade) of secondary education. This research focused on qualitative data collection and the data was collected through semi structured interviews. After analyzing and discussing the obtained data, the results demonstrated that the characteristics of the private educational institution and the director interviewed are consistent, and the characteristics of the director are the most suitable for the leadership of a private educational institution. In addition, the results demonstrated that the existence of supervision and control over activities, teaching methods and pedagogical practices is very important, in order to guarantee a high standard of satisfaction and good school results.

Index Terms— Educational leaders, Educational leadership, Educational organizations, Leadership paradigms, Leadership type and styles, Private education institutions,

1. Introduction

Leadership has been one of the most important and addressed terms of management and therefore often generates much discussion. The concept of leadership is related to the notion of exercising power on the part of an individual or a group with the aim of promoting the effectiveness of collective action for certain changes and improvements.

According to Alves (1995), the concept of leadership is related to the notion of charismatic authority and personal power, legitimate and accepted by those on whom it is exercised. The foundation of leadership thus stems from the ability of one person to influence others, from the leader to the subordinates, so that the positive identification of the subordinates on the leader, as well as relationships of mutual trust, is often observed.

Therefore, my research project has as its general aim to know the behavior of a Capeverdean private school leader, his ability of communication, organization, and self-assessment in order to identify if he has an efficient style of leadership and if so, to demonstrate if his leadership actually works as an added value in institutional terms. Furthermore, this paper also has as its specific aim to characterize the leadership practices developed by the pedagogical leader, to know and understand what types of projects, partnerships and innovative solutions are used and also to understand the strategic vision that fosters the sense of belonging and identification with the school.

2 Literature Review

2.1 Literature Review

Managing an educational institution has been a challenge for any school leadership, given the ongoing social, scientific and technological transformations, as well as the values, beliefs and ideals of a society in transition, which guides the mission of education today in its socio-pedagogical responsibility.

In this thematic leadership is focused as the central axis of all the discussion that follows, seeing it as an administration tool within an educational context is my goal. To do so, we must first understand the term Leadership. Not with the intention of exhausting it in all its scope, since several literatures have been committed in this sense, but to direct it to the specificity of my research.

The term today, after several surveys, takes on a less centralized proportion, embedded in the relationships of behavior and organizational climate developed in the companies and emerges to the school as a factor of restructuring of this process, in order to improve the exercise of administrative management. The search for the explication of the term leads scholars of different areas to reinvent the concept within their epistemological conceptions.

The definition of leadership is subjective and arbitrary, as Yukl (quoted by Bush and Middlewood, 2011) states, and although there are definitions for each context in which it is used, it cannot be said that there is “the” correct definition. Rather than establishing a definition of leadership, Bush and Middlewood (2011) consider three dimensions that underlie the idea of leadership: a process of influence on a group, a solid set of personal and professional values, and the development and articulation of a vision for the organization.

Hess defines educational leadership as “curriculum that teaches specific skills and qualities to students to empower and prepare them to deal with the many challenges our community, society, nations and world faces.” (2010, p.11) Leadership is, according to the same author the ability to take responsibility for one's actions and be an example of the good. Educational leadership has to do with providing a safe environment and learning opportunities so that students can experience and explore their leadership practices in projects and classroom activities (Hess, 2010, p.12). The teacher assumes the role of guiding and educating values, which helps the student to develop fully as an integral, autonomous, morally responsible and inserted in society. The teaching performance adds a humanizing, socializing but also ethical function because it influences the construction of the human being, in the acquisition of habits and customs on the part of the students, influencing the formation of the character. This has profound implications for leadership and goes far beyond the boundaries of the school as an organization, in the way it affects and impacts on the community education.

Since leadership is a fundamental part of the management of organizations (Teixeira, 2005), it is important to know what we are talking about when we refer to it. The leadership of the twenty-first century rests on a combination of soft power and hard power, which Joseph Jr. (2009) calls smart power. According to this author, “hard power rests on incentives and threats. But sometimes it is possible to achieve the desired results by setting one goal and mobilizing others to achieve it without recourse to threats or rewards. This is called soft power: to achieve the desired results by captivating others rather than manipulating or threatening them. This kind of power integrates the others, rather than coerce them (p. 49).”

In this follow-up, Teixeira (2005) points out that, in the current context, leadership is changing. Policies and organizations have undergone transformations, hierarchies are now flatter, and workers are mostly educated, responding to stimuli and political appeals distinct from those of the proletariat of the last century. Because of these changes, it is important to redefine the concept of leadership. Joseph Jr. (2009) tells us that the earliest definitions of the last century underlined the imposition of the leader's will and that the more recent definitions refer to greater reciprocity in the leader or follower relationship. “A quick query to any dictionary shows that there are many definitions of leader and leadership, but the most common meaning is that of someone who guides others or takes responsibility for a group, which implies followers who move forward in the same direction. Leading means mobilizing people to achieve a particular goal. The leadership of a human group is not defined by a lonely individual who is ahead of others and runs risks, however, bold and creative. It is rather a relation of orientation and mobilization of a group of followers”(p.36). Thus, we can say that leadership is the power of mobilizing and leading other people in this direction for a common purpose.

Teixeira (2005) states that “leadership is the process of influencing others in order to get them to do what the leader wants done, or the ability to influence a group to act towards the group's goals” (P.163). Sharing this idea, Lindo (nd) also sees leadership as how a person influences other people in order to achieve the intended ends. Still from Teixeira's (2005) perspective, leading is one of the several tasks of a manager, which leads to that, due to the importance of leadership in managing an organization, sometimes confuse leadership with management. However, not all leaders are managers and vice versa, because in an organization, although a manager is formally granted certain rights, this does not mean that this is in fact a leader. However, the presence of informal leaders within organizations, “that is, the ability of some people to influence the behavior of others, which is alien to the formal structure of the organization and which, in some cases, is so or more important than formal influence. That is, leaders may arise within the group, eventually spontaneously, or may arise by formal appointment to senior management positions”(Teixeira, 2005, p. 163). The author mentioned above refers to John Kotter, who says that, according to him, the management of a company refers above all to organizational structures, budgets, among others, while leadership refers especially to change.

Duignan (2006), cited by West-Burnham (2010), even points out that authentic educational leadership must promote a set of values, challenging others to participate in a broader view of the curriculum, teaching and learning practices, focused on what lasts in what really matters, giving priority to shared modes of operationalization.

The essence of leadership lies in the leader's ability to perceive the limitations of his or her own culture and to adapt that culture to change. In an organizational culture constantly subject to change, leadership has an important role to play in creating conditions for the motivation of followers and for creating conditions for the development of the school organization itself.

Speaking of leadership in education is based on the assumption that “human beings have become the key element in the development of educational organizations, both as a target of educational work and in the conduct of efficient and successful processes” (Luck, 2011, n.p). There are many definitions and the perspectives of study are also diverse: leadership styles, leadership models, types of leadership. There are, however, some common traits to the different approaches. A “quality that is learned and developed” as “a dynamic set of capacities that, combined, empower people, fostering creativity and innovation in order to lead the organization towards success in an unstable and rapidly changing environment strategy to meet the needs of individuals.” (Carapeto & Fonseca, 2006, p.85).

For Luck (2010b) there is an evolution of the term in question, through the different approaches that arise in response to the need to update organizations. These adjectives derive from different emphases attributed to the exercise of leadership that is analyzed and interpreted in compliance with the results sought in an organizational culture open to face the new challenges in an effective way.

Originally from the area of business administration, the aforementioned organizational culture has been gaining ground among theorists who prioritize a more participative, personalized, integrated and humanized management model that takes into account the values, needs, specificities and daily life of an institution education. In addition, the cultural approach is perfectly adapted to the school by the sociocultural nature that characterizes and distinguishes it. (Oliveira, 2005, p. 67).

Among others it is highlighted here some of these adjectives in synthesis:

- The transformational one that strongly embraces the aspect of values shared by all in an organization and offers a transformative vision of social processes and the environment itself.
- The transactional that tries to influence the relations of interaction between the people participating in the school community.
- The shared one that promotes the dissemination of responsibilities is also called distributed leadership.
- The co-leadership that points to the joint action of the administrative nucleus. Vice-principals, pedagogical coordinators and other formal representatives work in partnership to reach the goals and objectives for the common good of the institution.

From these contributions, it is noticeable that the school institution has forged throughout history a new profile of administration that has been consolidating with the demands that society has imposed on the educational system.

Leadership as ability distinguishes itself from the leader as an organizational actor, who, in addition to a human being with a personality of his or her own, a level of intelligence and a personal motivation, performs his or her leadership function according to one or more styles. Each leader pervades the organization with his/her own unique style of managing. It is the school leadership styles that can function as factors of organizational development and drivers of a process of change and innovation in the context of school organization, so it is important to consider them when looking at the management of a school organization.

According to Teixeira (2005), leadership, that is, this process of influence exerted by one person on others, can, present different styles: autocratic, participative, democratic and laissez-faire. The first, the autocratic style, is the one in which the leader transmits to the workers what they have to do and they obey. In this style of leadership the relationship between leader and subordinates occurs for short periods of time and is observed mainly in situations of simple and repetitive tasks (Teixeira, 2005). The imposition on the group of decisions made by the person leading them is characteristic of this style (Lindo, n. d). In the participatory style, the leaders participate in decision making, but it is up to the leader to make the final decision (Teixeira, 2005).

With respect to the democratic leader, this one tries to meet the interests of his or her team, which, according to many followers of this style of leadership, has contributed to the high levels of productivity achieved (Teixeira, 2005). In such leadership, decisions are taken by common consent (Lindo, n.d).

In the laissez-faire leadership, workers have the autonomy to make their own decisions, and there is no involvement on the part of the leader in the work done (Teixeira, 2005; Lindo, n.d). Teixeira (2005) points out that this style of leadership is difficult to accept, insofar as it is only exceptionally feasible in situations where team members are experts and well-motivated. According to this author, the managers choose the style of leadership to adopt taking into account the situation they face.

As for the management evidenced in private education, the institutions guide it with characteristics that are closer to business management than to educational management, directed towards the achievement of objectives and where it is necessary to articulate effectively with several groups of actors, among them the parents of the students, who are perceived as clients of the educational organization. As school leadership, along with what happens in other organizations, “has emerged as a key feature for the effectiveness of educational organizations” (Bexiga, 2009, p.100), there is a need to know the type of leadership and its characteristics, applied to educational institutions and, in particular for the study in question, those applied to private educational institutions.

The literature consulted allows highlighting three leadership paradigms related to institutions in general. The dispersed leadership that emerges intrinsically linked to leadership of the organizations referred by Cohen and March (1974, cited by Costa, 2000) when they recognize the management of school organizations “high levels of ambiguity, unpredictability and uncertainty” (p.25). In this perspective, leadership will develop into peer, multilevel and multi-stakeholder, speaking of leaderships and leaders rather than leadership and leader. Another paradigm that also seems to be important to focus on refers to Giroux's pedagogy of transformation (1988), which puts teachers in parallel with leaders. For Fullan (2003) transforming leaders act in several fundamental dimensions: global leadership, community intervention, influencing and interacting with actors beyond their field of intervention, and the vision of the future, which leads them to question the status quo and to support long-term development initiatives. The ethical, moral and cultural dimensions of leadership are framed in the last outstanding paradigm.

Sanches (1996) points out that a leader with this vision has to “emphasize the stability, cohesion and identity factors of the school's own groups” (p. 27) in order to influence the social and cultural development of students and the school performance.

When leadership is given to private education institutions, it is argued by several authors (Esteban, 1998b; Madsen, 2005) that there is a style of leadership of their own, or even the existence of several management models more adapted to the private context. Madsen (2005), for example, says that private education institutions require a management style of their own, directed towards the fulfillment of objectives that require the leader to be able to negotiate the needs evidenced by all authors. However, pedagogical directions in private education are freed from the bureaucracy in public education, allowing a more individualized control of the whole educational process, and it is also suggested that the existence of pedagogical centrality, and the fact that there are no elections for a limited period, end up having repercussions in the knowledge of the organizational processes and also in the reinforcement of their authority (Estevão and Almerindo, 1991). As for the models of leadership that are evidenced in private education, Estêvão (1998b) lists the existence of several, focusing essentially on the fractilized model. According to the author, the fragmented model comprises educational organizations as flexible organizations and dynamic social systems where processes of convergence, stability, instability, evolution-revolution, and with results that are not always predictable can be seen. The model also highlights leaders as having a great pedagogical, organizational and social centrality, allowing them to maintain their ideology and institutional rituals, and still hold essential techniques for the survival of the organization.


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School Leadership. A Qualitative Analysis in a Cape Verdean Private School
( Atlantic International University )
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school, leadership, qualitative, analysis, cape, verdean, private
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Ernania Fortes (Author), 2017, School Leadership. A Qualitative Analysis in a Cape Verdean Private School, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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