An Analysis of Leadership Models and their Influence on Educational Leadership Pamela Le
University of Phoenix
An Analysis of Leadership Models
Although there is no conclusive, comprehensive definition of leadership, there has been advances in researching leadership theories that have been uncovered and carried out over the last 200 years. In the late 1800s, the trait theory permeated the leadership theory. The World War era saw the beginning of the contingency/situation leadership theories of Fiedler, Vroom-Yetton, and Hersey-Blanchard. In the 1950s, the research turned toward behavioral leadership theories. Many researchers started to use rating skills and conduct interviews to identify the specific behaviors that leaders engaged in on-the-job (Wren, 1995). The most recent leadership theories, transactional, and transformational, focus on the relationships between leaders and followers. According to Avolio, Walumba, and Weber, “Today, the field of leadership focus’ not only on the leader, but also the followers, peers, supervisors, work setting/context, and culture” (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009, p. 422). Many of the leadership models have been used in education. The following will be a historical analysis of the trait, behavioral, transactional, and transformational models and their influence on educational leadership over the past 200 years. Close attention will be paid to the evolution of the educational leader (principal) and how his or her roles have changed over time.
The scientific study of leadership began in the late 1880s with the discovery of the traits theory. The common assumption of the time was that certain people were born with the ability to lead, thus making them better leaders than others. Chemers stated, “ Those who became leaders were different from those who remained followers” (Chemers, 1995, p. 83). The goal of trait research was to identify traits that were associated with leadership. The tests measured dominance, masculinity, sensitivity, and physical appearance, to name a few (Chemers, p. 83).
During this time, a key leadership role in education was beginning to develop, the principalship. As a result of the expansion of education, the one room schoolhouse model with a teacher or master became obsolete. In the 1800s, grade level schools were established and certain teachers were elevated to the position of “principal teacher” (Kafka, p. 321). The principal teacher at this time also possessed certain traits. The principal was most always male, who could complete the following clerical and administrative duties that kept the school in order, such as assigning classes, conducting discipline, maintaining the building, taking attendance, and ensuring that school began and ended on time (Kafka, p. 231)t. According to Kafka, These duties brought the principal teacher a degree of authority, as did his role in communicating and answering to the district superintendent, who tended to govern local schools from afar” (Kafka, 2009, p. 231). Many of these roles matched the traits earlier identified by the scientific studies. The principal was male and showed dominance through authority and could manage and maintain law and order in the school. The role of principal and the type of person who filled this position would not change until the scientific research revealed that traits alone do not determine who should be in leadership positions.
In the late 1940s, Stodgill discovered that “traits alone do not determine leadership” (Chemers, 1995, p. 84). As a result of Stodgill’s discovery, new models of leadership were created and researched. One model, behaviorism, researched the behaviors (styles) that a leader would demonstrate in his or her chosen field. Questionnaires such as the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire was used to identify behaviors that leaders engaged in (Chemers, p. 85). In education, the principal’s role changed as the country...
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