Influence of Leadership Attributes of Head of Schools on Student Academic Performances

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2020

239 Pages












1.1 Overview
1.2 Background Information
1.3 Statement of the Problem
1.4 1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.4.1 Main objective
1.4.2 Specific objectives
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Limitations of the Study
1.8 Scope of the study

2.1 Overview
2.2 Definition of Key Terms
2.3 Theoretical Literature Review
2.3.1 Theory of Charismatic Leaders
2.3.2 Traits Theory of Leadership
2.3.3 New Public Management Theory (NPM)
2.4 Empirical Literature Review
2.4.1 Influence of Integrity of Heads of School on Student Academic Performance
2.4.2 Association between Inspirational Outlooks of Heads of School and Academic Performance
2.4.3 Competency Attributes of Heads of School and Students’ Academic Performance
2.4.4 Criteria for Appointment of Heads of School
2.5 Research Gaps
2.6 The Conceptual Framework

3.1 Overview
3.2 Research Philosophy
3.3 Description of the Study Area
3.4 Research Design
3.5 Research Approach
3.6 Study Population, Sampling Techniques, and Sample Size
3.6.1 Target Population and Sampling Frame
3.6.2 Unit of Inquiry or Sampling Unit
3.6.3 Sample Size
3.6.4 Sampling Procedures
3.7 Data Collection Methods
3.7.1 Sources of Data Primary Sources Secondary Sources
3.8 Instruments of Data Collection
3.8.1 Structured Questionnaires
3.8.2 Pre-testing of the Questionnaire
3.8.3 Questionnaire Refinement
3.8.4 Pilot Testing of the Questionnaire
3.8.5 Administration of the Questionnaire
3.9 Data Processing and Analysis
3.9.1 Data cleaning and Processing
3.9.2 Likert Scaling for Research Data Analysis
3.9.3 Quantitative Data Analysis
3.10 Validity and Reliability of Instruments
3.10.1 Validity for Quantitative Data
3.10.2 Reliability for Quantitative Data
3.11 Ethical Considerations

4.1 Overview
4.2 Demographic Features of Surveyed Respondents
4.3 Gender Profile of the Respondents
4.3.1 Teachers’ Teaching Experience in the Surveyed Schools
4.3.2 Type of School Ownership
4.3.3 Level of Education Offered in Secondary Schools in Mbulu District
4.3.4 Level of Teachers’ Education in Mbulu District
4.4 Influence of Integrity Attribute on the Students’ Academic Performance
4.5 Influence of Inspiration on the Student Academic Performance
4.6 Influence of Competency Attributes on Students Academic Performance
4.7 Criteria for Appointing Head of School
4.8 Academic Performance Trends in the Past Five years for Mbulu District Secondary Schools
4.9 Chapter summary

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Summary of Major Findings
5.2.1 Summary of the findings of Integrity attribute of Heads of School
5.2.2 Summary of the Findings of the Inspirational Attribute of Head of Schools
5.2.3 Summary of the Findings of Competency Attribute of Heads of School
5.2.4 Summary of Findings of Criteria for Appointing the Head of School
5.3 Conclusions
5.3.1 Integrity Attributes
5.3.2 Inspirational Attribute
5.3.3 Competency Attribute
5.3.4 Appointment Criteria for Heads of School
5.4 Implications of the study
5.4.1 Policy Implications
5.4.2 Theoretical Implications
5.4.3 Practical Implications
5.4.4 Limitations of the Study
5.5 Recommendations
5.6 Suggestions for Further Studies




We the undersigned certify that they have read and hereby recommends for acceptance by The Open University of Tanzania a thesis entitled: “Influence of leadership attributes of Head of secondary schools on students’ academic performance in Tanzania. In fulfilment of the requirements for the award of a degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The Open University of Tanzania.


No part of this thesis, may be reproduced, copied, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author or the Open University of Tanzania in that behalf.


I, Chelestino S. Mofuga, declare that, the work presented in this dissertation is original. It has never been presented to any other University or Institution. Where other people’s works have been used, references have been provided. It is in this regard that I declare this work as originally mine. It is hereby presented in fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The Open University of Tanzania.


This thesis is dedicated to my mother Theresia Kilyamabiki Lusoko and my father Simbalimile Vangifesa Mofuga whose guidance and words of wisdom taught me to value education, lifelong learning and perseverance in all endeavours. If they were still alive, they would have been proud to witness this accomplishment, May Almighty God rests their souls in eternal peace. This work is also dedicated to my wife Ester Kasian Mpulule, whose unwavering love and support were pivotal to my success in this and other engagements; to my children Alberto, Chelestina, Perpetua, Naomi, Auleria, Aulerio,Theresia, Petro, Paulo and Prisca chelestino Mofuga who were tolerant all along my long journey as I struggled away from them to achieve this long aspired objective in my life.


The support and assistance of my supervisors’ Dr Cosmas B.M. Haule and Dr Joseph J. Magali, were invaluable in my actualization of this work. I appreciate their encouragement, support and guidance from my conceptualization of the research topic through data collection, analysis and conclusions I thank the staff at my work station for their moral support and for acting in my place and fulfilling my duties when I was away for these studies. In a very special way I thank the, Manyara Regional Commissioner, the Hon. Alexander Pastory Mnyeti for his permission, encouragement and support during my absence from office for this project. His humorous support and visionary insight made my learning interesting and seriously engaging.

I also thank William Sabaya, retired former Private Secretary to Ministers of Education, Director of Tanzania Institute of Education, founder and first Chief Executive of the Tanzania Commission for Universities and experienced trainer of education personnel and setter, marker and moderator of Tanzania National Schools Examinations, Lecturer, Contemporary Issues in Education, Open University of Tanzania, for editing this work.


This study aimed to assess the influence and contribution of leadership attributes of the Head of Tanzania secondary schools on the students’ academic performance, with particular focus on schools in Mbulu District in Manyara Region. The study identified four specific objectives, namely, to assess the influence and contribution of integrity, inspiration, competencies on students’ academic performance and specify criteria for appointment of Head of Schools. The study employed explanatory and cross-sectional design in collecting quantitative data using, questionnaires administered on selected school teachers and secondary data was collected from a review of pertinent documents and from the internet. And the data was analyzed by using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 23, using a sample of 202 teachers who were expected to provide evidence for any leadership attributes demonstrated by Heads of School and their contribution towards improved academic performance The findings of the study show that integrity had a chi-sq=13.533, p=0.000, Tb =0.259, P=0, 015, inspiration chi-sq=10.999, p=0.001, Tb=-0.233, P< 0.001, and Competence a chi-sq=7.634, p=0.006, Tb=0.194, P=0.006. These findings indicate that there is significant relationship between the leadership attributes of Heads of School and students’ academic performance. Hence, the study concluded that the integrity, competency and inspirational outlooks of heads of schools and, influence students’ academic performance. Therefore, the study recommends that the government should ensure that it allocates enough funds for training in order to ensure that they embrace the attributes that focus on the learning needs of students and promote teacher’s professional development.

Keywords: Leadership attributes, Mbulu District, academic performance, head of schools.


Table 2.1: Academic performance trends in past five years in schools in Mbulu District

Table 3.1: List of search words and databases

Table 3.2: Cronbach’s Alpha if item deleted

Table 3.3: Cronbach’s Alpha values and number of items for each construct

Table 4.1: Distribution of gender by school ownership, level of education offered and students’ academic performance

Table 4.2: Teaching Experiences by School Ownership (N=202)

Table 4.3: Distribution of type of school ownership by academic performance (N=202)

Table 4.4: Distribution of level of education offered by academic performance (N=202)

Table 4.5: Distribution of level of teachers’ education by level of education offered at school, ownership and gender (N=202)

Table 4.6: Frequency Distribution of Integrity Indicators (N=202)

Table 4.7:. Mean and Std Deviation of integrity leadership attribute items (N=202)

Table 4.8: Frequency Distribution of Mean scores of integrity attribute (N=202)

Table 4.9: Association between integrity and academic performance (N=2020)

Table 4.10: Frequency Distribution of inspirational indicators (N=202)

Table 4.11: Mean and Std. Deviation of inspirational leadership attribute Items (N=202)

Table 4.12: Frequency Distribution of inspirational attribute (N=202)

Table 4.13: Association between inspirational and academic performance (N=202)

Table 4.14: Frequency Distribution of competency indicators (N=202)

Table 4.15: Mean and Std Deviation of competency attributes (N=202)

Table 4.16: Frequency Distribution of competency attribute (N=202)

Table 4.17: Association between competency and academic performance (N=202)

Table 4.18: Criteria for appointing heads of secondary schools in Mbulu (N=202)

Table 4.19: Training on leadership attributes in Mbulu District (N=202)

Table 4.20: Factors Hindering training of teachers in leadership in Mbulu DC (N=202)


Figure 2.1: The conceptual framework


BEST Basic Educational Statistics of Tanzania

BRN Big Result Now

D BY -D Policy Decentralization by Devolution Policy

DAS District Administrative Secretary

DED District Executive Director

DEI District Education Inspectorate

DIV Division

EDB Education Bureau

ETP Educational and Training Policy

EU European Union

FGD Focused Group Discussion

ILO International Labour Organization

KCPE Kenya Certificate of Primary Education

LGAs Local Government Authorities

LKS Leadership Competency Scale

MOEVT Ministry of Education and Vocational Training

N Population Size

N Sample Size

NECTA National Examinations Council of Tanzania

NPM New Public Management

OUT Open University of Tanzania

P p-value

PhD Doctor of philosophy

Phi Phi Coefficient of Correlation

PLIS Perceived Leadership Integrity Scale

RAS Regional Administrative Secretary

RCC Regional Commissioner Consultative Meeting

SD Standard Deviation

SEDP Secondary Education Development Plan

SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciences

SSs Secondary Schools

Tb Kendall’s tau-b Coefficient

TSD Teachers’ Service Department

TTL Traits Theory of Leadership

TTU Tanzania Trade Union

UK United Kingdom

UNESCO United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization

URT United Republic of Tanzania

USA United States of American

WEC Ward Education Coordinator



1.1 Overview

This chapter presents background information, problem statement and describes the objectives and research questions of the study. It also presents the Significance, delimitation, limitation and scope of the study.

1.2 Background Information

Leadership is a unique and debatable issue with its complex universality in almost all areas of management (John, 2011). Leadership has a long history and associates many researchers who have studied it on the assumption that leaders are not born (Aline & Ramkumar, 2018), but they can be groomed (Darling-Hammond, 2007; Ardichvili, Dag, and Manderscheid, 2016). According to Northhouse (2007, p3), leadership is a process used by an individual to influence group(s) of individuals towards the attainment of a common goal. Swanson and Holton's (2001) define leadership as an application of expertise that comprises a combination of experiences, problem-solving skills, and knowledge in achieving a defined objective.

Massawe (2014) contextualizes leadership as a characteristic that assists in leading an institution effectively and guides implementation of human resource functions. Thus, it can be argued that leadership is a way forward for to improving performance in a variety of contexts including education at all levels including in secondary schools. During the twenty-first century, leadership has taken a special role for the more successful operation of for example secondary schools and this has been widely acknowledged (Bennis and Naus, 2003).

Education is recognized as one of the basic human rights and an activator of human social and economic advancement. (Boniface et al, 2016). According to Abubakar (2018), education helps a learner to become aware and cognizant of concerns in life in all situations and contributes to societal or national development. According to Mghasse and William (2016), education and national development are closely related because education provides the human resources that work to increase production and reduces or eliminates development challenges and hindrances such as ignorance, poverty, hunger and diseases.

According to Feather, (2016,) and Abu-Bakr, 2018), academics are described as a branch of enlightenment on theoretical and other perspectives one gets by attending school, acquiring and accumulating knowledge, moral values and positive thinking and problem solving mindsets and general orientation in life. According to Annie, Howard and Mildred (1996), the academic performance of an individual may reflect the extent to which teachers and students have strived to achieve their teaching and learning goals respectively as can be manifesting the final scores in exit or national examinations. Academic performance can be measured and indicated in the final grade earned in a course. The divisions given in secondary education final national examinations are used as a convenient measure of the academic achievement or performance of a secondary school student in Tanzania. (Chuma, 2016). Consequently, in this study, academic performance refers to the level of scores students have earned in final secondary education examinations as administered by the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA). The performance referred is usually measured in terms of academic grades or Divisions.

A number of researchers have shown that most of the academically successful schools in developed and developing countries are those whose leaders demonstrate high levels of leadership skills and leadership attributes (Gurr, 2015, Wasonga, 2014, Yaakob and Tubin, 2014). A good school leader possesses key leadership attributes such as trusting others, honesty, empathy and motivating staff toward achieving the desired organisational goals (Mirunde, 2015). Moreover, a good leader has knowledge, experience and skills in planning, organising, controlling and directing (Abdikadir, 2013; Mirunde, 2015). Thus, the trait and charismatic theories of leadership are used to explain leadership attributes tenable for school leaders. In addition, the new public management (NPM) theory was used to demonstrate the decentralised secondary school management.

This study aims to assess how the theory is effective in promoting students’ academic performance under the decentralisation policy popularly known as D by D (Mulliford, 2015). It asserts that in order for the school to achieve the expected results, it should ensure the learning principles and should implement quality improvement programme. The important role of school leaders is to strengthen the human resource functions such recruitment, training, motivation, retention, leadership attributes and responsibility of teachers (Ngithi, 2013). Quality education, recruitment and training of school leaders and teachers are strategic priority towards achieving improved students’ academic performance. Therefore, all those considered for leadership must display firm abilities in leading and fulfilling the defined requirements.

For improved educational and training quality, school leaders, the government through NPM have reviewed the country’s education and training policy such as to satisfy the country’s education and training needs in the country. The main objective of ETP 1995 is to promote educational research such that the choices and strategies put in place are based on systematic considerations and agreements. To satisfy the demand for quality and teachers, the MOEVT resolved to expand teacher training and therefore ensure a suitable student: teacher ratio. The lack of adequate numbers of trained teachers tends to increase the number of HoS appointed without due training in leadership as a result poor performance of student academics which continues to characterize secondary schools. Hence, ETP in this study determines how training influences the recruitment of head of schools in improving student academic performance in selected secondary schools in Mbulu District. Hence, school leaders are important personnel in improving the secondary education programme in Tanzania (Abdikadir, 2013; Mirunde, 2015).

O’Neill (2014) confirmed that school leaders are key for students to succeed academically. His study shows that most of the secondary schools in Australia that have been continually performing better are those led by Heads of School with such leadership attributes as integrity, inspirational outlooks, and teaching and leadership competencies. Similarly, Allen et al. (2015) argue that leadership attributes play a substantial role in school effectiveness. For example, an inspirational school leader may influence teachers' attitudes toward effective teaching in schools. This is achieved through shared goal setting or visions of a school, something which encourages staff to feel valued by the school while implementing their professional, social and other responsibilities.

Elsewhere in Africa, such as in Namibia, the pass levels in national examinations results in Grade 12, ordinary and senior secondary certificate (NSSC), have declined for the past three years between 2011 and 2013 the main cause being attributed to lack of leadership attributes by the head of schools (Hausiku, 2015). For example, academic performance in grade 12 declined from 30% to 24.4% in Kavango region due to poor leadership of the schools the study revealed that student academic performance is a criterion to judge effectiveness and efficiency of the Heads of School in Namibian secondary schools (MoE, 2013).

In the East African Community member states, demand for secondary school education (SSE) has grown significantly in recent years and this has been a result of increased enrolment of pupils in primary schools (Kuluchumila, 2013). Such surges in primary schools enrolments have demanded establishment of more secondary schools (SSs) down to local or village levels to meet the growing social demand for places in school. As a result of this increased number of schools, many teachers were promoted to school headships. Kuluchumila (2013) and as Tshabalala et al. (2014) argue the majority of the concerned teachers who were promoted to school headship positions in secondary schools lack leadership skills and attributes because of their having not been exposed to initial or in-service training and induction into their new roles and positions. This has been among the reasons for secondary schools across Sub-Saharan Africa to perform poorly in their national examinations. For instance, the analysis of the KCSE results of 2011 in Tagania East District show those secondary school students performed poorly with only 28.9% managing to score an average of C+ (Mwiti, 2012).

The situation has been worse in Tanzania, for a past decade. This has been mainly due to the school leaders’ low integrity, unclear inspirational outlooks, and low competence in the management and leadership of secondary schools. (Jidamva, 2012; Masue, 2014). Poor or lack of induction training of new Heads of School has been mainly due to insufficient or lack of financial and human resources for the needed training. (Laddunuri, 2012; Kuluchumila, 2013). Poor teaching and learning environments, low teacher motivation, lack of incentives for excelling teachers, lack of or delayed promotions and lack of teacher professional development needs assessment and plans (Godda, 2014), low leadership skills, inadequate knowledge and experience in matters of HRM (Van der Steen, 2011; Makunja, 2016) and indeed lack of political will, low community participation in matters of education, poor or unmonitored implementation of the education policy, poor or lack of commitment to the teaching profession, and poor top down management support for schools and delayed or lack of decision on matters pertaining to schools management have all contributed to poor progress and performance of students in secondary schools especially in Mbulu District, Tanzania. (Van der Steen, 2011; Masue, 2014).

In his study, Chuma (2015) asserts that the results in Tanzania’s CSSE performance were still poor despite the government continued effort to fund and organize teacher training and recruiting additional qualified teachers. Inadequate infrastructures were built and adequate numbers of textbooks were provided. But students’ performance continued to fall and remained low. Scholars hypothesize that academic performance in secondary schools in Tanzania may be associated with poor leadership skills of the Heads of School (Adegeni, 2013; Nyamboga, 2013 and Karoni 2013). Leadership has both a direct and indirect influence on student academic’s performance (Chuma, 2015). The performance of Form four students in National Examination between 2014 and 2018 was poor. The majority of candidates scored Division four and many more ended up with zeros. For instance, Division I students were 131, Division II were 889, Division III were 1684, Division IV were 5012 and Division zero were 3087.

1.3 Statement of the Problem

In the twenty first century school leaders are assumed to have been working effectively to raise the standards of academic performance of students. The efforts to improve the quality of education has been informed and guided by the Tanzania Development Vision 2025, MKUKUTA II (2012), Education and Training Policy (1995), and SEDP I, and SEDP II. However, those efforts have been hampered by the lacks of or poor levels of leadership integrity, competencies, and inspirational outlooks of the head of secondary schools (Mirunde, 2015). This challenge is mainly due to the lack, by most heads of secondary schools, of Heads of School basic or in-service training on their appointment as heads of secondary schools in Tanzania. .

Likewise, despite the assured adequacy of school facilities yet students’ academic performance in Mbulu District remained below the expected standards. (Manyara RCC Report, 2016). For instance, the NECTA results for a period of just five years (2014 to 2018) in respect of 30 secondary schools in the Mbulu District have shown that less than 10 percent (1020) of 10 803 students finished secondary schooling with Division One and Division two whereas about 75 per cent got Division Four (5012) and Division zero (3087), respectively. In that case, the majority of the secondary school leavers in the district were regarded as failures since they have no qualifications to proceed into advanced level studies (NECTA, 2014, NECTA 2015, NECTA, 2016, NECTA, 2017 and NECTA, 2018)

Mollel (2015) conducted a study to identify indicators of quality education, ignoring leadership attributes and revealed that; lack of science laboratories, lack of textbooks, poor teaching facilities, low teacher motivation, and lack of teacher – parent collaboration are some of the factors negatively impacting learners’ academic performance. Similarly, Lugayila (2014) studied the factors influencing the level of and quality of performance in Form Four national examinations and established that poor academic performance was mainly due to poor policy, poor English, lack of teacher motivation, lack of books and lack of teachers’ seminars. But, as for Mollel (2015) this study also ignored leadership attributes as factors that could influence the quality of learner performance in terminal examinations. The neglect of leadership attributes is contrary to one of the government priorities in secondary schooling which is to strengthen school leadership, management and governance to ensure effective management and accountability (MOEVT, 2015).

Many studies worldwide including developed countries and developing countries have focused on other factors in explaining and justifying the status of students’ academic performance. Most such studies ignored leadership attributes as contributory factors. (Robinson, 2007; Mulliford, 2005; Melmet, 2016, Mollel 2015, Lugayila 2014 and Pastor 2015). Hence, this study was imperative to assess the influence of integrity, inspiration, and competence on students’ academic performance, including the identification of the criteria used in appointing Head of Schools considering the need for schools to be effectively and efficiently run and managed. This study was conducted in the Mbulu District in the effort to contribute new knowledge to literature on school leadership and administration and to recommend for the preparation of school leaders who can cope with the service quality demands and push for national industrialization push of the fifth phase government under H.E President John Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania. The study has chosen integrity, inspiration and competence as the main attributes among many described by Trait and Charismatic Theory of Leadership because they are virtuously universal and crucial to any leadership context (Antonnakis, 2012, Shamir, 2014, Duggar, 2015, Turknett, 2005, Quigley, 2007).

1.4 1.4 Objectives of the Study

1.4.1 Main objective

The main objective of the study was to assess the influence of leadership attributes of Heads of School on students’ academic performance in selected Secondary schools in Mbulu District, Tanzania.

1.4.2 Specific objectives

In order to address the general objective, the study sought to accomplish the following four intertwined specific objectives:

i) To assess the influence of integrity of Head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools.
ii) To assess the association between inspirational attributes of Head of schools on students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools in Mbulu District.
iii) To determine the influence of competencies of Heads of School on students’ academic performance,
iv) To establish the learner support criteria used in appointing Heads of School in selected secondary schools

1.5 Research questions

The main questions which this study set to answer through scientific investigation were:

i) What is the influence of integrity attributes of Head of schools on students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools in Mbulu District?
ii) Is there any relationship between inspirational outlooks of Heads of School and students’ academic performance?
iii) Do the competency attributes of Heads of School have any influence on students’ academic performance in the selected secondary schools in Mbulu District?
iv) What criteria are used in appointing Heads of School in Mbulu secondary schools and to what extent do the criteria support students’ learning and performance?

1.6 Significance of the Study

The findings of the study are of both theoretical and practically significance. Theoretically, the theories pertaining are applicable in the selection and appointment of school leaders such as head of secondary schools and other personnel needed for leadership position in the educational sector. Since the trait theory had stood the test of credibility for centuries, by combining it with charismatic and NPM theories, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology can apply the theories in assessing leadership qualities of existing personnel for the various leadership positions in the educational sector and consequently guide the selection of the best for effective and efficient administration and management of schools. Head of schools can also apply the trait, NPM and charismatic theories in the selection of staff for various leadership positions in the schools such as heads of department, academic coordinators, music and cultural master’s cum-mistresses, sports master/mistress and dormitory affairs overseers.

Heads of School can use the trait and charismatic theory to create and embrace awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and so plan how best to develop needed leadership qualities. The theories also provide knowledge and understanding of leadership as a process. However, Heads of School must be mindful of using the trait theory alone in appointing teachers to school leadership positions since the theory on its own ignores the administered and the factors and environment which promote leadership success and effectiveness.

The information revealed from this study is expected to help policy makers, particularly the ministry of education, to improve their procedures of selecting heads of school. Policy makers should ensure that the attributes of effective teachers are linked to good school performance. Practically, the results of the study may be used by heads of secondary schools and related stakeholders at the district and regional levels to improve academic performance of the secondary school students. The officers targeted are the Regional Educational officers (REOs), school inspectors and District Secondary Educational Officers (DSEOs).

1.7 Limitations of the Study

The limitation of the study can be categorized into three broad areas, namely topical coverage, methodological limitations, and financial incapacity. The topical coverage for the study is limited to school leaders’ attributes and practices reflected in terms of individual characteristics and institutional factors which can improve the performance of secondary schools students. Methodologically, the study was quantitative and was conducted in Mbulu District only, and hence the research findings may not be generalized for the whole of Tanzania. The study draws from a representative sample only from the identified District and not beyond due to inadequacy of the funds allocated to facilitate the study.

1.8 Scope of the study

This study was based on the Charismatic and Traits theory of Leadership in describing leadership attributes and their influence on academic performance of secondary school students in. Mbulu District which recorded poor student academic performance since 2010, despite Government and community efforts to improve teaching and learning environments, in contrast to other areas such as Manyara District. The researcher chose Mbulu District in the effort to identify and assess the contribution and effect of leadership attributes of HoS on the academic performance of secondary school students in the area assuming that the other factors have been improved. Practically, the study examined the leadership attributes of selected school heads in Mbulu. It assessed the impact of such leadership attributes as integrity, inspirational outlooks of school heads, and their competencies on the academic performance of the students. This study focused on only three leadership attributes which are considered of universal importance against all the pertinent theories



2.1 Overview

This chapter presents a critical review of existing literature relevant to the study. The review is intended to explore the theoretical foundations underpinning leadership and leadership attributes in relation to students’ academic performance and achievement in Tanzania secondary schools with particular focus on Mbulu District. For the purpose of the current study, the Traits and Charismatic theory of leadership was selected to guide the study as it is relevant to the topic under investigation. The literature review also attempts to consolidate the empirical review on leaders' attributes against academic performance in schools. Based on the reviewed literature, the conceptual framework guiding the study was developed. But in the foremost, the definitions and scope of school leadership and pertinent attributes for secondary schools and academic performance were considered necessary in order to promote clear understanding of the concepts and terminologies for a more detailed discussion of the relevant theoretical issues and practices in the leadership of secondary schools.

2.2 Definition of Key Terms

School: A school is a learning organization comprising vision, mission and objectives and strategies set to achieve defined goals. In order to achieve the goals and mission of school, all the stakeholders, including teachers, on-teaching staff. Parents and the school leadership should act as a team in playing their roles and undertaking their responsibilities with due diligence and professionalism. (Frances 2005).

School leadership: According to Leithwood et al. (2006), school leadership refers to the process of applying management and administrative and social skills and attributes in guiding teachers, students and other education stakeholders toward achieving the defined school goals.

Academic performance: This refers to the measurement of the level of achievement of teaching and learning goals and objectives of individual learners such as to achieve the long term educational goals of a school. (Feather, 2016). Academic performance of a school impinges on students, teachers and the school as a whole. (Abubakar, 2018). Usually, students’ final grade attained at the end of a programme such as primary or secondary schooling indicates the academic performance of the particular learner. (Jayanthi, et al., 2014). Academic performance of a secondary schools in Tanzania is measured by means of the number of learners who perform well in national examination and depicted in terms of Class divisions attained – namely Divisions one to zero in the final secondary school examinations.

In this study, academic performance was measured by referring to the final grades earned in Form Four national examinations, measured by grades or divisions. This study used the trends inform IV national examinations results indicated on the bases of Division I, II, III, IV and 0. On this scale, Division I=distinction, II-Merit, III-Pass, IV-satisfactory and 0 ‘zero’=failure. A school’s academic performance was also measured on the basis of teachers’ perception of performance using a categorical variable measured in nominal terms with binary response. The teachers’ perception, indicated whether academic performances was influenced by leadership attributes of the head of school in terms of 1=pass, or 0= ‘failure’.

Leadership attributes: Refer to the elements of character of ability, power or quality or characteristics ascribed to a lead person or something belonging to the specific person or thing (Soukhanov, 2015). According to Ulrich, Zenger, & Smallwood (1999), there are many terms used to define leadership attributes, but these can be categorized into three major parts, namely: what leaders “ARE” (motives, values, personal traits, inspirational, integrity), “what leaders KNOW” (abilities, skills, competencies) and “what leaders DO” (habits, behaviour, styles). Based on these definitions, this study defined leadership attributes as a leader’s integrity, inspirational outlooks and competencies.

Leaders’ traits: These are defined as the relatively stable and coherent integrations of personal characteristics that foster a consistent pattern of leadership performance across a variety of organisational situations (Zaccaro et al., 2004; p 104). These characteristics reflect a range of individual differences that include both cognitive abilities and various personality attributes. Cognitive ability includes mental competence, energy and problem solving skills and approaches. According to Yukl (2006), the term trait refers to a variety of individual attributes, including aspects of personality, personal needs, motives, and values. Personality traits are relatively stable dispositions to behave in a particular way and include integrity, inspiration, self-confidence, extroversion, emotional maturity, and clear motives in life.

Leadership: May be viewed as a process where an individual (or group of individuals) influence a group of individuals to achieve a common goal (Northouse, 2007, p3). Definitions of leadership are many and varied. Sharma and Jain (2013) defined leadership as a process by which a person influences other to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. In addition, Rost (1991), Kouzes and Posner (1991), Fairholm (2002) and Winston and Patterson (2006) describe leadership as an influence relationship among persons and collaborators who intend to cause significant changes that reflect their mutual purposes. Common themes of influence, change and leader-follower collaboration emerge from these and other definitions. This study adopted this Northouse’s (2007, p3) definition of leadership.

Charismatic leadership: Is a form of leadership which can be conceptualized as a signalling process where an individual demonstrate ability to solve an urgent coordination challenge (Ndiritu, 2012). Sparks (2014) defined charismatic leadership as the ability to speak and act in such a way that those following are inspired to move to action and share in the vision of the leader. Charisma is a personal trait often characterized as a unique and special gift from God (Mothilal, 2010). The core of charismatic leadership theory rests on the notion that a leader’s influence on his or her followers is often beyond the legal and formal authority structure, and relies instead on the leader’s personal charm, attractiveness, and persuasive communication (Jennifer, 2015).

Charismatic leaders are able to influence followers by articulating a compelling vision for the future, and arousing and inspiring commitment among the followers (Judge et al., 2009). Zaccaro (2001) specifies the following as key attributes of a leader demonstrating charismatic influence: cognitive ability, self-confidence, socialization power motives, risk propensity, social skills, and nurturance. According to Ndiritu (2012), the signals, both verbal and non-verbal, enable a charismatic leader to attract attention, reinforce social norms and a sense of collective identity and strengthen the beliefs of followers that their cooperation will be reciprocated. Based on such observations, it is heartening that Mwalimu Nyerere, first President of Tanzania was indeed imbued with these charismatic leadership characteristics.

2.3 Theoretical Literature Review

Different leadership theories explain leadership attributes and include the trait theory of leadership, behavioural leadership theory, contingency leadership theory, and integrative leadership theory. The aim here is to introduce, in brief, the theories, which explain and interpret leadership behaviour and leadership effectiveness. In this study, two theories were applied. These were charismatic and Traits theories of leadership. The theories were selected due to their relevance to the study as they explain well leadership attributes and their effectiveness in promoting achievement of expected results.

2.3.1 Theory of Charismatic Leaders

The Charismatic leadership theory is popular and has been applied in many research undertakings in the effort to promote better understanding of effective leadership (Hughes and Curphy, 2003). The term “charisma” was initially used to describe the characteristics of religious figures and political and Military Leaders (Weber, 1947). According to Weber (1947), a charismatic leader is one endowed with the gift or qualities which are supernatural (Sacavem et al., 2017). Schynst and Schilling (2013) argues that charismatic leaders can prompt their followers to accept them because they can influence their attitudes, assumptions and commitment (Conger, 2012). Thus, it is essential for the head of a school to be charismatic.

The Charismatic Leadership theory was popularized by the number of researchers who produced complementary, yet somewhat different, conceptualizations of charisma in leadership (House, 1997, Sashkin, 1988), and Charismatic leadership is one of the components in Bass’s transformational theory of Leadership (Bass and Avolio, 1994).

Each of these theoretical offerings links a leader’s influence on group members or followers to important and positive outcomes such as group performance, organizational performance, improved followers’ motivation, satisfaction and added efforts to work. Charismatic leadership is not merely reserved for CEOs or Presidents of organizations even though much research has focused on high profile leaders such as the U.S Presidents (House, Spangler, 1991). Charisma can be found in persons at various levels in an organization (Conger and Kanungo, 1997) and Charismatic leadership can operate either as an individualized or a group level phenomenon depending on the context of the organization. (Avolio and Yarimmarino, 1990).

One of the well-researched models in studying the behaviour of charismatic leaders was developed by Comnger and Kanungo, (1994). This theory focused on six behavioural factors exhibited by charismatic leaders, namely: strategic visioning, communication behaviour, preparedness for personal risks, sensitivity to organizational members’ needs, and flexible deviation from the status quo, that is preparedness to be corrected. A Leader is guided by these behaviour traits in bringing about change in an organization, and more specifically, after scanning the environment for threats and opportunities for their organizations. A charismatic leader develops a vision for the organization (or work group) and communicates and shares the vision to the members of the organization. The vision will often be different from what the establishment is currently doing (justified deviation from the status quo) and may also require that the leaders incur personal risks.

A Charismatic leader may often engage in unconventional behaviour such as flamboyant speaking or other behaviour not typically seen in to most leaders. Charismatic leaders conduct themselves while also being sensitive to the needs of followers. The choice of the charismatic leadership model to guide this study was based on the behavioural aspects of charisma in addition to the pertaining attribution (Conger, 1998, Conger and Kanungo, 1987). The Charismatic leadership theory is not without its critics. The various charismatic theories have been faulted for overemphasis on dyadic levels of arguments, ambiguity about essential behaviours, insufficient specification of facilitating conditions such as essential followers’ characteristics and environmental conditions such as the impact of uncertainty and crisis as well as ambiguity about the implication of new ideas and approaches on organizational effectiveness (Yukl, 1999).

In the current study rather than focusing on charismatic leadership within dyads, the study examines charismatic leadership within the context of creative teams (Burke et al, 2006). For example, in the study by Drucket and Wheels (2003), external leaders of self-managed teams brought about team success by demonstrating leadership behaviours that included moving back and forth across boundaries to build relations scouting for necessary information for task accomplishment, persuading teams to support one another while empowering the teams to achieve greater success.

West et al, (2003) demonstrated that leaders who provided clarity of purpose to work team members increased the performance of the teams in different departments of healthcare organizations. As summarized in a 2006 Meta analysis of 50 empirical studies, person focused, and to lesser extent, task focused behaviours were found to be related to perceived team effectiveness, team productivity, and team reciprocal learning (Burke et al, 2006). It comes as no surprise therefore to see the importance organizations place on effective team leadership. Leaders not only play a critical role in team performance, but they also are integral for encouraging creative problem solving for organizational members as well as work teams (Basadur, 2004).

Novel, ill-defined tasks required creative solutions and leaders that guide followers in appropriate ways. According to Mumford, Gaddis and Stranger (2002), leaders influence the creativity of individuals and teams by structuring and giving direction for problems solving, exercising influence, and balancing the need to be creative or innovative with the pressure from the organization to keep costs low. In view of contextual and leadership factors affecting creativity, Shalley and Gilson(2004), specifies that leaders influence creativity somewhat indirectly by providing pressures, training, jobs descriptions, rewards and other inputs. They also note that supportive leadership and behaviours associated with high quality leaders ‘exchange to increase creativity.

Therefore, an examination of charismatic leadership behaviours specifically within the context of creative teams is an important contribution to the extent of research literature. Many studies on charismatic leadership have acknowledged that leaders who influence large groups of followers at some distance may engage in different types of charismatic behaviour than those leaders who practice charismatic leadership up close and personal at the dyadic or small group level (Shamir, 1995).

In summary the charismatic theory of leadership have several characteristics which are essential for any leader as they influence him or her to perform successfully, and treated as the strength of the theory. The qualities regarded as charismatic are; leader highly motivated, tolerant, dominant, risk taker, committed, highly influential, integrity, inspirational, trusted, honest, and visionary. It is argued that the charismatic theory can be among the blessings and curses on an organization, because if the leaders are charismatic, then they can bring change into an organization and influence to the quality of development programmes. This because charismatic leaders have strong vision to influence positive change, to followers. The Charismatic theory can have advantages including helping leaders through inspiration to bring change, to create a good vision for an organization, motivate and empower people to work hard to achieve the desired goals and are highly confident in any activity they are perform.

Like any other theories the chosen theory has strengths and weaknesses. The charismatic theory has some weaknesses relating to this study. The theory is leader centric and does not describe the qualities of followers of a leader on how they can be better involved in promoting performance in an organization. The theory provides that leaders are God given, and so ignores learning to be a leader, something which cannot be guaranteed that any person is born endowed with leadership abilities contrary to many scholars who assert that leaders can be developed and trained. ( Goolamaly and Ahmad, 2014, Mollel, 2015, pastor, 2016, Masawe, 2014). The theory also fails to address specific traits that influence organizational outcomes such as performance, productivity and employee’s motivation and satisfaction.

The study has therefore chosen inspiration, visionary, and integrity in addressing the weaknesses in the theory and fill the research gap through an analysis of leadership influence on students’ academic performance in Mbulu secondary schools, because the attributes are virtually universal and important in leading schools effectively to achieve their goals. In so doing, the study will add new knowledge for the advancement of the theory in leadership administration and management.


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Influence of Leadership Attributes of Head of Schools on Student Academic Performances
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influence, leadership, attributes, head, schools, student, academic, performances
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Chelestino Mofuga (Author), 2020, Influence of Leadership Attributes of Head of Schools on Student Academic Performances, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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