Servant leadership- a credible school leadership style or an unworkable contadiction?: teachers' perceptions of leadership practice in an independent school.
Underhill, Kenneth W.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.
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This small-scale case study attempted to answer four questions related to servant leadership in schools: One - How effective is servant leadership as a leadership style? Two - To what extent is servant leadership practised in the current school context? Three - Do teachers perceive servant leadership to be an appropriate, credible and motivating leadership style by comparison with other recognised styles of schoot leadership? Four - Does servant leadership impact positively on teachers' perceptions of their effectiveness as teachers? The first question was answered by means of a review of literature on effective school leadership and a comparison with the principles and practice of servant leadership. In addition to current literature on effective school leadership, reports of the government school inspection bodies were examined in order to establish the characteristics of effective school leadership. The other three questions were investigated by means of two questionnaires; one the Organisational Leadership Assessment (Laub, 1999) and the second an anonymous questionnaire constructed from eclectic sources. These findings were triangulated by means of a round of semi-structured interviews with teachers in order to explore their perceptions of effective school leadership. Though servant leadership was found to be an effective leadership style, teachers found the practice difficult to conceptualise because of the level of altruism that is required to be a servant leader. The teachers' unfamiliarity with the term 'servant leader' meant that they had difficulty identifying the concept though the practice of servant leadership was welcomed more readily. The enthusiasm with which servant leadership was advocated by its proponents was matched to a lesser degree in the teachers'views though certain reservations about the implementation of this style of leadership remained; these were related to the practical rather than conceptual level of servant leadership, particularly centring on the degree and extent of altruism expected of a servant leader.
MA Education Thesis
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