You are on page 1of 7

THE PRINCIPALS ROLE AS A LEADER OF SERVICE The Principals Role as a Leader of Service -Critical Element Paper #2 Presented to the

Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education University of Northern Iowa -In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Arts in Education -by Jenny L. Rinehart Southeast Polk Junior High School Pleasant Hill, IA October 29, 2013 -Dr. Charles McNulty

THE PRINCIPALS ROLE AS A LEADER OF SERVICE The purpose of this paper is to express my philosophy of the role of the principal as a leader of service. Throughout the course of this paper, I will provide insight into servant

leadership and my beliefs regarding how it fits into the role of a principal. I will also provide the relationship between servant leadership and the Iowa Standards for School Leaders (ISSL), and highlight my experiences as an aspiring leader that connects to the leader of service. Servant leadership is defined as a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world (Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 2013). The term servant leader came to fruition through Robert Greenleaf in 1970. The servant leader desires to serve first and then the decision to lead becomes a conscious choice. Spears (2004) goes on to say that at its core, servantleadership is a long-term, transformational approach to life and work--in essence, a way of being--that has the potential for creating positive change throughout our society (p.8). One might also say that servant leadership is an attitude as well as a leadership style. The leaders attitude is centered on the responsibilities of the leadership role. The framework for servant leadership has four major tenets to guide the leader. Within these four major tenets, there are additional characteristics or dimensions that assist in building the holistic servant leadership approach. The first tenet is that of service to others. Greenleaf (1991) states that Authentic, legitimate leadership arises not from the exercise of power or selfinterested actions, but from a fundamental desire to first help others (p.2). Through the leaders service to others, he or she is able to inspire and motivate others to reach their fullest potential. The servant leader believes that he or she is truly only as strong as the people with whom they surround themselves.

THE PRINCIPALS ROLE AS A LEADER OF SERVICE The second tenet is having an all-inclusive approach to work. The inclusive approach

fosters collaboration among all members of a team or organization. Greenleaf (1996), said, The work exists for the person as much as the person exists for the work (p.8). This approach allows members of your team to be themselves at work as well as outside of the workplace. The inclusive approach builds relationships among team members to create an environment where sharing ideas and concerns are welcomed and safe. Building off of the second tenet, the third tenet of servant leadership is building community. Greenleaf said, All that is needed to rebuild community as a viable life form for large numbers of people is for enough servant-leaders to show the way, not by mass movements, but by each servant-leader demonstrating his own unlimited liability for a quite specific communityrelated group (Spears, 2004). The servant leader creates a community where everyone feels respected and has ownership in the community. For this to take place the leader must also have ownership in the community and an assumed liability for what takes place within the community. The principals role in building the community is facilitating an environment where members are working collaboratively towards a shared vision and goal for the success of all. The fourth tenet focuses on shared decision making. The shared leadership philosophy allows for members of the community to have input into the decision made within the organization. Shared decision making provides attainable ownership for members of the community. Servant leadership and shared leadership seemingly go hand-in-hand. As a leader

THE PRINCIPALS ROLE AS A LEADER OF SERVICE that shares the decision making, he or she is serving their organization; therefore exemplifying characteristics of a servant leader. Linda Lambert (2002) contends, Today's effective principal constructs a shared vision with members of the school community, convenes the conversations, insists on a student learning focus, evokes and supports leadership in others, models and participates in collaborative practices, helps pose the questions, and facilitates dialogue that addresses the confounding issues of practice (p.40). I believe that todays effective principal focuses on building the capacity to lead with all staff; therefore sharing the responsibilities of leadership rather than making it a power struggle.

The tenets of servant leadership are closely connected with the Iowa Standards for School Leaders (ISSL). Standard 1 encompasses the views of visionary leadership which is an important facet of the servant leader. The servant leader ensures that their building has a clear mission and vision to guide the staff, students, and community towards the goal and expectations for success. The servant leader is responsible for stewardship of the vision which is also the responsibility of the building principal per ISSL 1. The second tenet, inclusive approach to work, focuses on the idea of collaboration. ISSL 2 (instructional leadership) also focuses on the collaboration of stakeholders to work towards the vision that was created. The building principal guides teachers through mentoring, coaching, and facilitating development. ISSL 2 expects the principal to be in tune with the needs of his or her staff. This includes the professional learning opportunities for teachers and the continuous learning by the building leader in order to provide staff with the most current instructional practices.


The strongest connection between the tenets of servant leadership and the ISSL standards is that of ISSL 4collaborative leadership. The servant leader fosters a climate and culture in the building that supports risk-taking, voicing concerns, and shared responsibility. While ISSL 4 refers to family and community; I believe that it relates to the building administrator providing opportunities for their staff and their families to interact. Its also vital for the building leader to remember the importance of family in their role and that of their teachers and/or staff. The servant leader is focused on serving their schoolISSL 4 allows for the leader to serve the families of their school as well in an effort to ensure opportunities and success for all students. Lastly, the tenets of a servant leader connect with ISSL 5, ethical leadership. The servant leader serves their school and community with integrity. The servant leader views themselves as a leader and pillar of good character within their community. An ethical, servant leader shows respect for divergent opinions. Furthermore, ethical servant leaders can be described as a person who has values, beliefs and attitudes that inspire others to higher performance (ISSL Standards). A leader of service puts the needs of others before their own in their quest to serve their students, staff, and building. As an aspiring leader, I have had experiences to act as a leader of service. As a classroom teacher, I have led department cadres through serving as a facilitator of the data team for my grade level. This position is focused on being a leader of service as I serve my department through compilation of data and facilitating the curricular goal setting process with my team as we collaboratively write our goals. I have the opportunity to coach high school student athletes daily. The position of coach is very much a servant leader position. Im given the opportunity to mentor and inspire student athletes to reach their fullest potential every day. This position allows me to serve as an ethical role model for young people and allow them to

THE PRINCIPALS ROLE AS A LEADER OF SERVICE have a positive, safe outlet in their life. Many of my internship experiences have also included

being a leader of service. For example, I was given the opportunity to fill the Student Assistance Manager (SAM) position within my building. During the week-long opportunity, I had the opportunity to serve my fellow staff and students whether that is through student conferencing for behavior or supporting a staff member in the classroom when a need arises. All aspiring leaders should strive to be servant leaders. In education, specifically teaching, were in the field of serving children; this should be no different for principals. As a principal, you must expand that willingness to serve to include students, staff, families, and community. A servant leader exudes an attitude and belief system that inspires others to reach their full potential and strive to be the best whatever that may be. The servant leader has a building that is a positive learning climate that respects all people and encourages the same from the students, staff, families and communities. As a servant leader, I will work to develop leadership capacity in my staff and facilitate a shared leadership style. In my quest to become a building leader, I will continue to create my leadership style and philosophy by focusing on serving others with the ultimate goal of increasing student achievement in my building.

THE PRINCIPALS ROLE AS A LEADER OF SERVICE References Blanchard, K. (1991) Servant leadership. Retrieved from Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. (2013). What is servant leadership?. Retrieved from Greenleaf, R.K. (1991). The servant as leader. Indianapolis, IN: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center. [Originally published in 1970, by Robert K. Greenleaf]. Greenleaf, R.K. (1996). On becoming a servant-leader. San Francisco: Josey-Bass Publishers. Lambert, L. (2002). A framework for shared leadership. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 37-40. Retrieved from Spears, L. (2004). Practicing servant-leadership. Leader to Leader, (34), 7-11. Retrieved from