You are on page 1of 6

Exploring Leadership Dilemma

Leadership Dilemma The X School Dhaka, Bangladesh is an independent school serving students from ages 3-18 years old. There are three hundred different nationality students studying the Western Australian Curriculum in grades K-12. The elementary, middle and the senior campus of this school is located in three different places in the same area. Currently, I am working as a mathematics teacher at the senior campus of this school. Besides teaching my three math classes I am also the newly appointed lead teacher for our campus. Some of my responsibilities include sending daily bulletins to the staff members, informing teachers about their daily duties, planning events, recommending changes to the administrative issues in absence of the principal and communication with the parents. While being at this leading position I have often found myself completing the responsibilities that can be distributed among many of the staff members. I am hesitant to communicate this issue with the principal as I am concerned about his recent interactions with some of the staff members. At this situation, I could complete all the responsibilities that I am currently undertaking to hold on to my leading position, or I could inform the principal that I will be unable to continue working as a lead teacher if the current situation of my workplace persists. Analysis of the Leadership Dilemma The leadership dilemma mentioned above has resulted due to an inexperienced school administration unit, the setting of the school, and the principals leadership style. At our school, the members of the administration got no previous experience in facilitating an educational setting. The administration has asked the principal to appoint a lead teacher for each of the campuses for completing administrative duties for proper functioning of the campuses. These lead teachers are responsible for assigning duties to other teachers, planning events, observing administrative duties and communicating with parents besides their own classroom teaching. The administrative unit of this school can be analyzed using the Theory of Significant Delegation where members of the administration control the mind and techniques of others as they are in significant position and superior to others. The techniques that these significant people practice are generally used to improve the work efficiency in a crisis situation. (Scott, 1973) Since, there is only one principal to manage three of the campuses of the school the principal has been directed to appoint lead teachers to improve the efficiency of the school campus. The other reason that has contributed to this leadership dilemma is the location of the school. Since, the school is divided into three different locations the principal is unable to contribute his time and effort equally on each of the campuses. There is a lack of regular electronic and face-to-face communication between the principal and staff members which resulted in a condition where the campuses are generally run by the lead teachers and the principal generally intervenes during serious administrative issues. According to Barrett (2006)

leaders can achieve their goals through good communication skills that would enable, foster, and create understanding and trust that is necessary to encourage followers to follow them. Leadership Communication requires leaders to use full range of communication skills and resources to overcome interferences to create and deliver messages that would guide, direct, motivate or inspire others to action. The communication process surrounds many interruptions such as the context in which the information is sent, the noise that surrounds it, selection of the medium, also the image of the speaker that influences the transmission of information. (Barrett, 2006) At our campus, the physical presence of the principal being only once/twice a week has resulted in a lack of face-to-face communication between the principal and teachers. Also, there have been incidences where the use of electronic media (email, text and phone) has resulted in conflict between the teachers, principal, and the administration during events planning. The location of this school also influences the work ethics of the teachers who are employed at this school. In Bangladesh, like many other organization workers are generally extrinsically motivated. The behaviour of the workers can be explained using the Transactional Theory that states that people are passive and must be directed and extrinsically motivated to serve organizational needs. (McGregor, 1966) I have often found my colleagues to be less involved in the activities that require them to contribute their time outside the classroom. The teachers are generally less willing to spend their time towards the development of the students and school if there is no monetary rewards for their contribution. The leadership style of the principal could be another reason that might has resulted in the leadership dilemma. The principal has been recently observed by the teachers as low in energy and less enthusiastic about the functioning of the school. There has been an incident where the principal has displayed lack of capacity for emotional control. He has abruptly displayed anger on some of the staff members due to excessive work load at the school. According to (Webb, 1915) there is a positive correlation between leadership and occasional extreme anger. The incident of sudden anger prevents me from discussing my dilemma with the principal. In general for leaders to be effective they should display high physical and nervous energy, a sense of purpose, and direction, enthusiasm, friendliness and affection, integrity, technical mastery, decisiveness, intelligence, teaching skills and faith. (Tead, 1935) The leadership style of our principal can be analyzed using the Ohio State Leadership Quadrants from Ohio State Studies conducted in 1946 -1956. The leadership style of our principal falls between the lower initiating structure and relationship. This indicates that the principal is less active in directing group activities through planning, communication, scheduling and trying out new ideas. There is also a lesser consideration from the principal that describes minimal job relationship by mutual trust, respect for subordinates idea and consideration of their feelings. It also indicates the principal is more impersonal with his/her relations with group members. (Korman, 1966) According to the Managerial Grid the leadership style of the principal in the managerial grid falls in the task style (4-7) where the principal has a higher concern for work and a lesser consideration for the people working at his organization. (Blake & Mouton, 1964) This leadership style can be explained using the observed condition of our campus where to increase

the efficiency of the campus the administrative responsibility of the school has been assigned to one teacher. According to (Fairholm, 2009) the leadership style of the principal can be understood by exploring the Situational Theory, which argues that the situation determines what leaders do and their behavior is linked to - be congruent with - the specific environment at hand. It prioritizes critical factors in the environmental situation that impacts leader behaviour, in which the individual operates. Thus, organization size, worker maturity, task complexity or a variety of other so-called critical contingencies conditions leadership. The application of this theory can be seen in this school as the principal has tailored his leadership style according to the situation of the school. Since, the school is divided into three different locations the principal approved the idea of selecting a classroom teacher to look over each campus in his absence. This adaptation would allow him to effectively coordinate without being physically present at each campus. Also, the recent behaviour of the principal can be understood by analyzing the working conditions of the school. As the principal is overloaded with work from the three campuses his behaviour has been affected by the current situation. Solution of the leadership Dilemma The leadership dilemma could be resolved by distributing responsibilities between school community members, changing the current leadership style of the principal and bridging the communication gap between the principal and teachers. The leadership dilemma could be resolved by distributing the duties that are assigned to a lead teacher to other members of the school community. The principal could assign duties to each staff member or groups to complete the responsibilities. In exercising Distributed Leadership (Bennett et al., 2003) the principal could create a network of relationships inside the school campus where teachers, students, department heads, administrative staff members, and parents would be working together for the benefit of the school. The distributed leadership highlights the emergent property of group of interacting individuals. It emphasizes the idea that numerous distinct capabilities can be found in individual in an organization. If different people are bought together for work with their initiatives and expertise then the product of the outcome would be greater than the sum of their individual actions. (Bennett et al., 2003) At our campus if distributed leadership is exercised, then different members of the school community will be contributing to the leadership of the school. They will be influenced by the internal culture of the campus which would exert its own influence. The values such as commitment towards students, inquiry and trust would be the driving force for the teachers. The teachers would be working together as a team to create a positive environment for the students and teachers inside the school. The principal of this school could also strive to become a transformational leader. According to (Burns, 1978) Transformational Leadership can be described as a personal attribute of leaders. A transformational leader inspires and energizes their followers to become their best selves. They are engaged in moral uplift of their followers and they share a mutually rewarding vision of success and power them to transform those into realities. At our campus, the principal could inspire and share the vision of student success with the teachers to work together to change the lives of the students. Transformational leaders can be described as change agents,

courageous individuals, believe in people, are value driven, have ability to deal with complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty and are visionaries (Tichy & Devanna, 1986). Our principal could strive to develop these characteristics and create a vision for the school with the teachers to transform the lives of the students. According to the Model of Transformational Leadership Approach (Northouse, 2004) there are four factors that explain transformational leadership such as charisma and idealized influence, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation. Our principal could use idealized influence to provide the teachers with a compelling vision to intrinsically motivate them to work. Also, to create a positive work environment for the teachers where the work is not burdened on one person, the duties can be distributed among other staff members. There could be an opportunity for teachers to attend professional development sessions to revisit their philosophy of teaching and learn the value of team work. The principal could motivate the teachers to work together for the success of the students. In addition, the principal could change his leadership style to become an authentic leader. To become an authentic leader, he need to gain self-awareness, practice personal values under pressure, balance extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, build support team, stay grounded by integrating life and understand passion/purpose of a relationship (George, 2012). The building of self-awareness would allow the principal gain knowledge about his leadership skills which can be done by gaining honest feedback from others. Then, if the principal develops a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation then they will be able to be intrinsically motivated to run organizations with purpose and meaning. It is also important for the principal to focus on his true north (George, 2012) to build a support team that can help him stay focused on his work despite the workload of managing three campuses. There is also a need for the principal to maintain integrity by being the same person at changing school environments and not get overburdened by the leadership commitment at work. The principal could create a positive environment in the workplace and work together with teachers work towards the shared mission. Finally, there is a need for the principal to understand his true passion and purpose for leadership. The understanding of true north or who he is at the deepest level will give him the direction to continue working hard (George, 2012). Also, to resolve the dilemma there is a need to increase leader-constituent communication. According to the Leadership Communication Framework the leaders not only needs to master the skills at the core (strategy, writing, and speaking), but also expand their skills to emotional intelligence, cultural literacy, listening, managing teams and meetings, and coaching and mentoring to advance in leadership position (Barrett, 2006). I believe our principal needs to develop the skills that are found at the outer rings of the leadership communication framework. The development of team management, meeting, coaching and mentoring would allow the principal to run his institution effectively as every member would be intrinsically motivated to work with others towards the fulfillment of the vision of the school. This would require the principal to effectively manage his time between campuses to mentor the teachers, observe their behaviour, and maintain a school environment that promotes team work. In leadership communication, an essential element is the ability to project a positive image, or a positive ethos (Barrett, 2006). Leaders can build positive ethos by understanding how they are perceived by others. For understanding oneself, leaders need to develop emotional intelligence or the ability to understand ones own emotions and those of others. Emotional intelligence

involves emotional and social knowledge and the ability to understand ourselves/others, dealing with strong emotions, and controlling impulses/adapting to the changes to solve problems of personal or social nature (Bar-On & Parker, 2000). For effective leadership communication, the principal needs to develop positive image of himself among the staff members, teachers and the administrative unit. This will help him to get his ideas/messages across and allows other to accept the given message without any inquiries. For effective leadership communication there is an importance to develop emotional intelligence. The development of emotional intelligence would allow the principal to understand himself/others, deal with strong emotions, and allow him to adapt to change and solve problems at the school. The building of emotional intelligence would allow him to interact with staff members and help him build a positive relationship to communicate with others. The building of positive relationship would allow the teachers at my campus to communicate their concerns with the principal. If this situation establishes then I would be less hesitant to share my concern with the principal. However, as a professional it also my duty to bridge the communication gap with the principal. I have to strive to express my concerns to the principal to establish equity in the workplace. If the responsibilities that are assigned to a lead teacher can be distributed among different units of the campus, then it would allow the teachers to be involved in the school community and work together for the success of the students.

Reference Bar-On, R. & Parker, J.D.A. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of Emotional Intelligence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Barrett, D.J. (2006). Leadership Communication. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006). The definition of and model for leadership communication are based on this book. Bennett, N., Wise, C., Woods, P. A., & Harvey, J. A. (2003). Distributed Leadership: A Review of Literature. National College for School Leadership. Blake, R.R., and Mouton, J.S (1978) The New Managerial Grid. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Co. Burns, J. (1978) Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Fairholm, G. W. (2009) Understanding Leadership Perspectives: Theoretical and Practical Approaches. (1) 11-13. George, B. A (2012). True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. Retrieved from Korman, A. K. (1966) Consideration, initiating structure, and organizational criteria: A review. Personal Psychology: A Journal of Applied Research, 19(4), 349-361. McGregor, D. (1966) Leadership and Motivation. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Northouse, P. (2004). Leadership: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Scott, W, G. (1973) The Theory of Significant People. 33 (4) 308-313. Tead, O. (1935) The art of leadership. New York. McGraw-Hill. Tichy, N, M., and Devanna, M, A. (1986) The Transformational leader. Training and Development Journal, 40 (7), 27 -32. Webb, U. (1915) Character and Intelligence. The British journal of psychology. Monograph supplements. III, No. 20.