Optimizing School Climate Through Leadership

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Optimizing School Climate through Leadership
Barry Joel Desaine, B.Sc. Management Studies, M.Sc. Organizational Leadership

A school’s climate is influenced by its administrators’ leadership style—by the way they motivate personnel, gather and use information, make decisions, manage change initiatives, and handle crises. It is an essential factor for success as a poor environment can account for as much as a third of all deficiencies. Unfortunately, many administrators fail to appreciate how deeply the climate of their school can affect the performance of both staff and students. This paper explains what is meant by climate and how emotional intelligence and its influences on leadership styles can impact on the climate of a school.

What is School Climate?
School climate has been defined in many ways. One author wrote that school climate refers to "the feelings and attitudes that are elicited by a school’s environment" (Loukas, 2007). Another adds that it is "based on patterns of students', parents' and school personnel's experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures" (Center for Social and Emotional Education). Researchers also list a variety of factors that influence school climate such as: students’ and teachers’ perception of their school environment, or the school’s personality (Johnson, Johnson, & Zimmerman, 1996); the frequency and quality of teacher-student interactions (Kuperminc, Leadbeater and Blatt, 2001); feelings of safeness and school size (Freiberg, 1998); or feelings of trust and respect for students and teachers (Manning & Saddlemire, 1996).

The late Harvard psychologist, David McClelland, postulated that there are six key factors which influence an organization’s working environment: flexibility i.e. how free workers feel they can be innovative; workers' sense of responsibility; the level of standards set; the sense of accuracy...
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