2. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
This study assessed the influence of the leadership attributes of the Head of schools on the student academic performance in public and private secondary schools. Explanatory cross-sectional survey design with a concurrent mixed approach using both primary and secondary data were employed. A total of 202 teachers used to provide evidence on heads of schools attributes in influencing students’ academic performance using questionnaires, in-depth interview and focus group discussion. The collected data were analysed using SPSS version 23 for quantitative data and thematic analysis for qualitative data. Significant relationship between integrity and students’ academic performance was revealed. However, inspirational attributes negatively correlated between students’ academic performance. In addition, the results reveal that there was weak, positive and significant relationship between competency and academic performance. The study concluded that integrity and competency attributes significantly influence positively the students’ academic performance while inspirational negatively influences students’ academic performance.
Therefore, the study recommends the government to allocate enough funds for professional development for the aspirant of head of secondary schools and review educational policy on the training and development of teachers before and after appointment into headship post.
Key words: leadership, leadership attributes Academic performance
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The concept of leadership attributes in education context is of paramount for the education institutions like schools prosperity. The current study focused on head of school leadership attributes in influencing students’ academic performance in secondary school. Leadership has a classical and vast history which associates many researchers work with it because there is an assumption that leaders are not born (Aline and Ramkumar, 2018), they can be developed (Darling-Hammond et al., 2007; Ardichvili, Dag, and Manderscheid, 2016). According to Northhouse (2007), leadership is a process of an individual to influence group(s) of individuals towards attainment of a common goal. Moreover, Swanson and Holton's (2001) defined leadership as application of expertise that is a combination of experiences, problem-solving skills, and knowledge in achieving a stipulated objective. Consequently, in the twenty-first century, a significance of leadership for successful operation of secondary schools had been widely acknowledged (Bennis and Naus, 2003).
Fundamentally, academics stand as a branch of education (Feather, 2016). While academics literally is knowledge especially on theoretical perspectives one gets by attending secondary school education, the later means inculcating the knowledge, moral values and positive thinking (Abubakar, 2018). According to Annie, Howard and Mildred (1996), academic performance is the outcome of education or the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals. Academic performance is measured by the final grade earned in the course. The Divisions are used as a convenient summary measure of the academic performance of secondary schools’ students in Tanzania. The Divisions are better measurement because it provides a greater insight into the relative level of performance of individuals. Basically, various studies have applied such measurements in combination (Ismail, 2016). Traits theory of leadership identifies the specific personality traits that distinguish leaders from non-leaders. The theory focuses on the difference between leaders and followers assuming that leaders would display more personality traits than the subordinates (Cherry, 2106; Kanodia and Sacher, 2016). According to Cherry (2019), leadership traits are the consistent and habitual patterns of thoughts, feelings, behaviour, emotions or actions of the leader that distinguish the leader from the follower (Cherry, 2019). Leadership traits are not fixed but remain stable throughout a leader’s life span.
Tomas Carlyle (1847) proposed the Great Man theory which relates with Traits Theory of leadership. Carlyle believed that “history is shaped by extraordinary leaders, and that the ability to lead was something they inherited at birth and not something that could be developed” (Spector, 2016; Pyke, 2018). Carlyle's theory of leadership was based on the rationale that people are "born" with leadership traits. Thus, most early researchers considered leaders traits to be permanent properties that were present at the birth of a future leader (Zaccaro, 2007). However, these views of leadership traits have evolved from several earlier perspectives of leadership. So, these ideas inspired researchers to look more into leadership and inheritable traits (Stogdill 1948; 1974; Zaccaro, 2001; 2007; Zaccaro et al., 2004; Yukl, 2006; Fleenor, 2006; Ricketts, 2009; Sage, 2011; Nichols and Cottrel, 2014; Pyke, 2018; Allens, 2018).
In earlier works there were no universal traits that predicted leadership in all situations. Leadership traits varied greatly. According to Zaccaro (2001), Zaccaro et al. (2004) and Yukl (2006), there are several integrated sets of leader attributes, including cognitive capacities, personality qualities, motives and values, problem solving skills and knowledge. Specifically, cognitive capacity includes general intelligence and creativity. Personality attributes includes adaptability, extroversion, risk taking, and openness. Motives and values include need for socialisation, achievement, and motivation. Problem solving skills include problem construction and solutions generation and self-regulation skills.
However, based on reviewed literature, this study identified three leadership attributes or traits; integrity, inspirational and competency, to assess influence of leadership attributes of head of schools on students’ academic performance. As such, modern research on traits theory of leadership by Nichols and Cottrel (2014) provided the study with a wide-ranging leadership attribute which distinguishes leaders from followers, competence. A comprehensive leadership competence scale (LKS) was developed by Healthcare leader’s alliance and the college of health care executives (2018) to measure competency attribute using 12 variables (appendix 1). There are several limitations with the trait theory. Limitations to trait theory would include identification of hundreds of different leadership traits. Thus, determining who is and isn’t a successful leader solely based on traits has raised many different arguments, such as “What about great leaders who do not possess these traits,” or “how come every person who exhibits these traits does not go on to become a great leader.” With that being said, arguments and disagreements have been had as to what types of leadership traits are truly effective (Spector, 2016; Chery, 2016; 2019).
The charismatic leadership style was one of three leadership types described by Max Weber in 1947, along with the bureaucratic and traditional leadership styles (Epley, 2015). The charismatic leadership style is based on a form of heroism, almost of divine origin. According to Weber charisma separate ordinary people from great people and as the latter endowed with supernatural, superhuman or exceptional power (Sacavem et al., 2017), or as exemplary and on the basis of these extraordinary abilities the individual concerned is treated as a leader (Judge et al, 2006; Shamir, 2014; Antonakis, 2012). Moreover, there is an element of belief that charismatic leaders must inspire others to begin making progress toward their goals (Takala, 2005; Epley, 2015). A charismatic leader may have a forceful opinion, but they are also sensitive to the emotions, ambitions, and personal experiences that others have (Fairhurst and Uhl-Bien, 2012). These leaders recognize that it is the duty of the leader to adjust their approach to each person instead of forcing others to adjust themselves to their leadership style. Most importantly, a charismatic leader is willing to take a risk (Epley, 2015) and honest (Goolamaly and Ahmad, 2014). They recognize when it is necessary to be conservative and when a risk could bring in great rewards.
Therefore, a charismatic theory of leadership provided this study with integrity and inspirational attributes of leadership. As part of theoretical development, Bartholomew and Gustafson (1998) developed 30 variables to systematically measure integrity attribute while Francis and Barry (2004) developed 16 variables to analytically measure inspirational attribute. These variables were measured categorically in five-point scale (see Appendix 1). The theory did not furnish the study with competency attribute of leadership. According to the traits and charismatic theories of leadership, essential leaders’ attributes are; self-confidence, integrity, dominance, charisma, ambitions, creativity, inspirational, motivation, competence, trustworthy and personal power. Moreover, Goolamaly and Ahmad (2014), identified and affirmed five major traits and charismatic leadership attributes: integrity, inspirational, competency, forward looking and self-efficacy. However, the, study selected only three wide-ranging traits; integrity, inspirational and competence, because are universal leadership attributes (Antonnakis, 2012, Shamir, 2014, Duggar, 2015, Turknett, 2005, Quigley, 2007).
Although, trait and charismatic theories provided this study with integrity, inspirational and competency, the theories could not provide the criteria considered to promote a teacher into a school leadership position under the current decentralised education system in Tanzania. Hence, new public management theory was necessary. The new public management theory is the major approach employed by government to ensure ongoing educational reforms are effective. The NPM theory has emerged as the dominant one in educational governance. In the twenty 21st century school leaders are supposed to have been working effectively to increase the performance of students academically. The effort to improve quality of education has been informed by Tanzania development vision 2025, MKUKUTA II (2012), Education and training policy (1995), and sub-sector plans. According to Mirunde, (2015), the study suggests that the head of schools lacks integrity, competency, and inspirational leadership attributes, as they are lacking training before and after appointment to sharpen their leadership attributes.
Likewise, Mbulu district has been struggling to improve school facilities to facilitate effective teaching and learning (RCC, Manyara Report, 2016) and the report shows that the district has surplus facilities and infrastructures for schools, compared to other districts in the country, yet the performance is poor, for instance, the NECTA results for 30 secondary schools from 2014 to 2018 were as follows: Division, I was 131, division II was 889, division III was 1684, division IV were 5012 and division 0 were 3087 students for just five years. Therefore, students got division four and zero 5012 and 3087 respectively are regarded as failures because they can't proceed with advanced level studies (NECTA, 2014, NECTA 2015, NECTA, 2016, NECTA, 2017 and NECTA, 2018). To accomplish this study focused into the following objectives:
2. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
2.1 Main objective
To assess the influence of leadership attributes of Head of Schools on the student’s academic performance in selected Secondary schools in Tanzania.
2.2 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 attribute 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 the students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools.
iii. To assess the influence of competency attributes of Head of schools on the students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools.
2.3 Empirical literature review
Influence of integrity attributes of Head of schools on the student academic Performance in secondary schools
Integrity is more than ethics at the individual level; it is all about the characters of the individual. It is those characteristics of an individual that are consistent, considerate, compassionate, transparent, honest, and ethical (Duggar, (2015). According to Turknett (2005), integrity is the foundation of the model and without integrity, no leader can be successful. Leaders with integrity will not twist facts for personal advantages, willing to stand up for and defending what is right, will be careful to keep promises; they counted on, to tell the truth. Integrity is the foundation of leadership and it involves a careful balance between respect and responsibility (Turknett, 2007). Lacking trust, competencies are meaningless. Individual who are not trustworthy will not be given opportunities or responsibilities and they will not be wanted as team members by clients or other employees (Quigley, 2007).
Furthermore, Goolamally and Ahmad, (2014) conducted a study in Malaysia to identify and affirm the conceptual framework and attributes of school leaders (principals) needed to achieve leadership sustainability and school excellence. The exploratory factor analysis method was employed for the purpose of this study. The research found that head of schools needs five attributes in order to excel in school leadership and make a school excellent: integrity, inspirational, competency, forward-looking and self-efficacy. Thus, Integrity attribute, which has the sub-attributes of being principled and humble, was found to influence school achievement in Malaysia. This study focused on leadership attributes of the head of schools and ignored to assess the influence of attributes to student academic performance.
Therefore, based on the reviewed studies, there still inconclusive results of whether leadership attributes of head of school influences students’ academic performance in secondary schools. Thus, there is no finding that has answered the question why secondary schools in Mbulu district are still performing poorly despite the effort by the government to employ qualified teachers, build more infrastructures, and provide appropriate textbooks, good salary and responsibility allowances (RCC, Manyara, 2016 and 2017 report.).
Association of inspirational attributes of Head of schools and the student academic performance in secondary schools .
Apolline (2015) examined the motivational strategies of principals in the management of selected secondary schools in Fako Division of the Southwest Region of Cameroon. The descriptive survey design was used to collect data from a representative sample of the population using questionnaires for teachers and principals. The data was analysed using means and standard deviation. The findings revealed that: motivational strategies of principals include those related to empathy or inspirational, supportive, caring and just on academic and disciplinary matter A study conducted by Goolamally and Ahmad, (2014) in Malaysia identified and affirmed the conceptual framework and attributes of school leaders (principals) needed to achieve leadership sustainability and school excellence. The study used quantitative research methods. The study found that head of schools needs five attributes in order to excel in school leadership and make a school excellent: integrity, inspirational, competency, forward-looking and self-efficacy. Thus, inspirational, which has the sub-attributes of supportive and influential, was found to influence school achievement in Malaysia. However, the study focused on leadership attributes of the head of schools and ignored to assess the influence of attributes to student academic performance, which is the focus of this study .
Mwangi (2011) conducted a study focusing on the effect of school leadership on student achievement in Kenya. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative in two distinct phases. In the first phase, the study used data obtained from 35 interviews with teachers and secondary school administrators, to gain an understanding of how leadership is enacted and experienced in daily school routines. The results showed that principal’s engagement demonstrated inspirational, commitment, sensitivity to and focus on continuous improvement, and openness to information and diverse views, impacted student performance. In the final phase, the study used responses from 281 schools. The results indicated that school leadership had moderate but significant indirect effects on student achievement. A surprise finding was the negative impact of principals’ advice and support on teachers’ academic press.
Consequently, based on the reviewed studies, there still inconclusive results of whether inspirational attributes of head of school influences students’ academic performance in secondary schools. Accordingly, to Wamala and Seruwagi (2013), a single leadership attribute alone may not directly translate into better students’ academic performance. Thus, head of schools need to possess multitude of skills, competencies, cognitive abilities and person attributes which effective leaders possess.
Competency attributes of Head of schools and the student academic performance in secondary schools .
Amuche and Saleh (2013) investigated the effectiveness and competency of principals of ECWA Secondary Schools in North Central Geo-political zone of Nigeria and how well they were professionally trained in School administration. It was also to find out how effective the training in-service was implemented in order to develop Principals and staff professional competency. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of research were employed in order to establish how competent the principals were in their leadership role. The study found out that most ECWA Secondary School principals, though educated in other fields, were not professionally competent in school administration and planning. Also, principals’ managerial competence had a negative relationship (-0.02) with students’ performance in ECWA secondary schools.
In addition, In addition, Goolamally and Ahmad, (2014) in their quantitative study identify and affirm the conceptual framework and attributes of school leaders (principals) needed to achieve leadership sustainability and school excellence in Malaysia, found that head of schools needs five attributes in order to excel in school leadership and make a school excellent: integrity, inspirational, competency, forward-looking and self-efficacy. Thus, competent, which has the sub-attributes of task competency, action-oriented and sociability as well as emotional and spiritual competency, was found to influence school achievement in Malaysia. This study focused on leadership attributes of the head of schools and ignored to assess the influence of attributes to student academic performance.
Moreover, according to Robinson (2007), studies conducted on the qualitative research on the leadership attributes and the link to student outcomes were found to be only 24 published researches between 1985 to 2006 in Australia. Also, Mulford (2005), conducted a study to determine the contribution of leadership attributes on the student academic performance for five years between 2001 and 2005. The study found only 44 published academic journal articles. Thus, it can be postulated that there is inadequate research on the field of leadership attributes of head of schools and its influence on student academic performance today. Hence those studies show the empirical research gap of lacking of literature in leadership attributes and academic performance.
2.4 The Conceptual Framework
Theoretically, conceptual framework on attributes of school leaders towards achieving effective school leadership is based on the fact that the heads of schools are responsible for managerial and administration functions of managing, directing, planning, motivating and developing their staffs and students (Preetika and Priti, 2013). Traits and charismatic theories of leadership identified and affirmed the attributes of school leaders needed to achieve leadership sustainability and school excellence. The theories pointed out five all-inclusive important traits or attributes which a school leader or principal must possess in order to achieve better school and students’ performance. These were; integrity, forward looking, inspirational, supportive and influential, and competent. However, the attributes of forward looking and supportive and influential were categorized as inspirational variables by Francis and Barry (2004) in their inspirational leadership measurement scale.
Competency refers to a high level of commitment and dedication, self-efficacy, emotional intelligence and the courage to take risks (Goolamaly and Ahmad, 2014). Thus, a competent school leader has ability to monitor own feelings and emotions as well as those of other teachers (sensitivity, interpersonal skills), and to use this and available information to guide the schools’ activities. This covers skills, behaviour, ability and knowledge to determine attitude, action, thought and communication style (Goleman, 1995). In addition, school leader’s belief and confidence in his ability and skill to perform a task make a competent teacher effective in school leadership (Bandura, 1986). Theoretically, it was expected that the competence of school leaders would enhance the students’ academic performance under their leadership.