Reflecting on leadership styles
Even before beginning my career as a teacher, I wanted to be a school principal, though I’m not entirely sure why. Shortly after I entered the teaching profession, I quickly decided that I no longer wanted to be a principal and that I was destined for life as a classroom teacher. Even throughout the most challenging years in my teaching career, my love for the classroom has remained constant. Wanting to combine my love of the classroom with my love of children’s literature, I decided that I would make the move into the role of a teacher librarian. Since beginning my Masters in teacher librarianship, I have come to realise that the role of TL is far more complex than I originally thought. You can read more about that here. Yet another part of the role, as I am beginning to understand, is one of leadership. Given that I am only a week into this subject, I have not yet made solid connections between the role of the TL and leadership, however it has been interesting to learn about an array of leadership styles and to reflect on which of these I have experienced personally, and which of these I have employed within my own classroom.
A brief overview of leadership styles covered so far
Situational leadership – a leadership style which changes depending on the situation and the actions of the followers (Bales, 2019).
Transactional leadership – a leadership style which uses rules and incentives to motivate employees (Bales, 2019).
Transformational leadership – a leadership style which focuses on improvement and is particularly applicable to situations which require change, as it employs strategies including goal setting, planning and incentives. There is a strong emphasis on personal and professional development in addition to team building and collaboration between staff (Bales, 2019).
Instructional leadership – a leadership style which centres on the principal and their team but also draws on other key staff and community members to aid with decision making. While directing ‘from the top’, staff are given the opportunity to develop best practise (Bales, 2019).
Inspirational leadership – a leadership style in which the leader aims to empower and enable their followers through accepting and encouraging everyone on an individual basis (Smith, 2016, p. 69).
Which leadership style is most effective within a school context?
As I was reading about the leadership styles named above and considering my current leader, I found it difficult to pinpoint exactly which style she drew from. According to Smith (2016), this is actually a positive thing. Smith (2016, p. 75) surmises that employing strategies from transformational, transactional, inspirational and instructional leadership styles to create an integrated leadership model is important in order to build a strong school culture and have a positive impact on student achievement. While I don’t believe it is possible for everyone to be happy all of the time, there is certainly a strong learning culture within the school at which I am employed. Professional learning is encouraged and ‘thinking outside the box’ is supported in my workplace as per the inspirational leadership style. At the same time, there are certainly some transactional leadership strategies being used to ensure that tasks such as data entry continue to be carried out on time.
Bales, J. (2019). ETL504, Module 2.2, Leadership theories, Class notes. Retrieved from School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, website: https://www.csu.edu.au/
Smith, B. (2016). The role of leadership style in creating a great school. SELU Research Review Journal, 1(1), 65-78. Retrieved from https://selu.usask.ca/documents/research-and-publications/srrj/SRRJ-1-1-Smith.pdf