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An Identification of the Most Preferred Dispositions of Effective School Leaders

Reginald Leon Green, EdD
Professor University of Memphis

Tonya Cooper
Principal Memphis City Schools Doctoral Student University of Memphis ______________________________________________________________________________ Abstract The purpose of this research was to identify dispositions describing effective leaders most frequently appearing in the literature and to determine those dispositions that leaders of todays schools believe to be most preferred in the leadership of their schools. The research was conducted in three phases. In Phase One, the researchers selected 49 dispositions frequently appearing in the literature as descriptors of effective school leaders. In Phase Two, a population of 123 school leaders was surveyed to determine their preferred dispositions from among the 49 in the literature. Sixteen (16) dispositions were selected during the second phase. To reduce the 16 dispositions to a manageable number, during Phase Three, 51 school leaders serving in a school district in the Southeastern United States were asked to rank the16 dispositions in the order they most preferred. The outcome was the identification of 6 dispositions that are representative of those most preferred by leaders of todays schools: vision, integrity, character, trust, ethics, and communication. Keywords: dispositions, dispositions of effective school leaders, leaders in todays schools, effective school leaders ______________________________________________________________________________

Over the past century, American public educators have engaged in a number of reform movements. Notwithstanding the number of educational reforms that have been implemented, a large number of students remain classified as underperforming. Consequently, in Americas schools, there are achievement gaps between groups of students. Even in the highest performing schools, achievement gaps exist, and the challenge of closing those gaps remains problematic. It is clearly evident that changes have occurred in society. To keep up with those changes, change has to occur in schools. Now, more than ever before, the leadership of schools is being questioned, and the hard questions being asked address the performance of schools and student achievement. 55

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Individuals who criticize the current educational system argue that a change is needed in the leadership of schools. Therefore, the major focus of the current reform movement has shifted to the role of the principal (Cunningham & Cordeiro, 2009). Principals are being asked to become instructional leaders, responsible for the effectiveness of the school, as well as the academic achievement of all students in attendance (Clifford & Ross, 2011; Council of Chief State School Officers, 2008; Lashway, 2002). Part of the process of instructional leadership is the monitoring and supervision of teachers. There is growing agreement among researchers that the school leader is best positioned to ensure that teaching and learning occur throughout the school, only second to teachers who have the most immediate effect on student success (Bottoms & ONeill, 2001; Green, 2009; Hobson-Horton, Green, & Duncan, 2009; Waters & Grubb, 2004; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003). The shift in the role of higher accountability for the principal as instructional leader has placed greater demands on teachers as principals are observing teachers to ensure that they improve student performance. In addition, the public is demanding more information about the effect individual teachers have on student learning (Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2010). Teachers make up the largest portion of the professional body in a school, have most contact with students throughout the day, and influence the environment of the school. Consequently, principals have raised the evaluation level of teachers, requiring them to increase their effectiveness. The issue of teacher effectiveness has become a federal and state priority and a major topic of debate across the country (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Southern Regional Education Board, 2011). Therefore, it seems reasonable to believe that to enhance teacher effectiveness, the relationship between teachers and principals must be enhanced. In fact, the most successful teachers may be the ones inspired by their relationship with their principal (Edgerson & Kritsonis, 2006).

Review of the Literature Research studies have revealed that to be effective in structuring the school for effective teaching and learning, principals must support teachers and establish and maintain positive relationships with them. According to Barth (2006), the nature of the relationships between teachers and principals has a greater influence on the culture of the school and student achievement than any other elements affiliated with the school. If the relationships between principals and teachers are trusting, helpful, and cooperative, then the relationships between teachers and students, between students and students, and between teachers and parents, are likely to be the same (Barth, 2006; Green, 2010). Principals have the ability to improve teacher perceptions overall by simply attending to fundamental components inherent in quality relationships. As teachers begin to feel better about themselves and what they do as a result of significant interactions with their principals, they become more effective in the classroom (Edgerson & Kritsonis, 2006). The quality of support teachers receive from principals is associated with their job satisfaction (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2008; Markow & Martin, 2005). To that end, functioning in their role as instructional leaders, principals are well advised to support teachers and develop and maintain positive relationships with them. When teachers feel positively about their position, they have a positive influence on students and the school. The reverse is also true; when teachers have negative feelings about their positions, they 56

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER may negatively impact students and the school (Edgerson & Kritsonis, 2006). A critical factor, however, is lacking in this new reform movement, namely the disposition of the principal and its influence on his/her relationship with teachers and school effectiveness. The disposition of the principal is embedded in his or her behavior. It is the manner in which he/she conducts him/herself; the manner in which he/she responds to events that occur in the environment, and his/her actions or reactions to external or internal situations (Green, 2013). The disposition of the principal is a combination of his/her beliefs, values, and attitudes, and those beliefs and values influence behavior (Melton, Mallory, & Green, 2010). Teacher perception of the disposition of the principal and the affect that it has on his/her behavior is critical to the effectiveness of the school (Blase & Kirby, 2000). Therefore, principals are well advised to create a supportive environment for teachers. Dispositions of School Leaders The disposition of school leaders is a controlling perceptual quality that determines their natural or usual ways of thinking and acting (Usher, 2002). Qualities, such as integrity, honesty, trust, and character characterize the disposition of school leaders and provide an explanation as to why they act in a certain way (Fullan, 2002; Perkins, 1995; Reavis, 2008). It is possible for school leaders to possess some effective skills and positive leadership traits, but lack key leadership dispositions (Deal & Peterson, 2009). This void has the potential of negatively impacting the leaders ability to achieve long term success. In such instances, the disposition of the leader may negatively impact the school environment, interfering with the teaching and learning process (Deal & Peterson, 2009). For example, McGregor (1960) theorized that a leader might have a Theory X disposition or a Theory Y disposition. A leader with a Theory X disposition acts in ways that are coercive and directive, while a leader with a Theory Y disposition acts in ways that are democratic and delegating (Green, 2009). Thus, disposition influences behaviors toward faculty, students, families, colleagues, and communities (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE, 2002). Consequently, the disposition of school leaders can affect student learning and development, the level of motivation of faculty members, as well as his or her own professional growth. Above all, it is the leaders beliefs about schools, teachers, children, parents, and the community that form the foundation upon which leadership for school improvement is based (Green, 2009). As school leaders make selections from various alternatives, they reveal their preferences for particular values, interests and beliefs (Green 2009). In order to lead the type of change necessary to transform underperforming schools and ultimately close the achievement gap, school leaders must know the impact they are having on people and the school in general. With a deep understanding of self and the impact of their dispositions, leaders can, if necessary, modify their beliefs and values and enhance skillful performance in schools. The Impact of Leadership Disposition on School Effectiveness Teachers are the single most important factor in improving schools and increasing student achievement (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). However, studies have shown that working conditions, particularly in the areas of leadership and teacher empowerment, impact teachers decisions to remain in a particular school or the profession in general (Ingersoll, 2001). New teachers most admire school leaders who establish a culture based 57

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER on fairness, honesty, and trustworthiness (Ingersoll, 2001). Therefore, it is imperative that school leaders understand that their dispositions can positively or negatively impact their relationship with teachers, as well as the climate and culture of the school. The disposition of a school leader influences the potential for teachers to succeed within a school environment. As a result, students achievement is affected. Effective leadership (principal leadership) brings about supportive followership (teachers and students), and the result is high performing teachers and students. A school leader with a positive disposition is likely to create a school atmosphere wherein effective teaching and learning occurs. The quality of leadership is directly proportional to the quality of followership (Pringle, 2007). Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the disposition of the principal can positively or negatively impact achievement in the school. The question that looms largely is which type of principal disposition is most influential in developing a positive relationship with teachers and enhancing the academic achievement of students in the schools they lead.

Statement of the Problem Principals are being requested to assume the responsibility of enhancing the academic achievement of all students who enter the schoolhouse. Principal/teacher relationships play a major role in this process. Several studies appearing in the literature offer evidence of what school leaders need to know and be able to do in order to effectively lead a 21st century school. However, little has been written on the preferred disposition of school leaders. To develop approaches to use in enhancing the relationship between principal and teachers and ultimately enhance the academic achievement of students, there is a need to identify the disposition of effective school leaders. This information can be used as a foundation for research that addresses principal/teacher relationships and student achievement. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this research was to identify dispositions describing effective leaders most frequently appearing in the literature and to determine those dispositions that leaders of todays schools believe to be most preferred in their leadership. Three (3) research questions guided the study. Research Questions: 1. What leadership dispositions appear in the literature most frequently as characteristics of effective school leaders? 2. Which of the dispositions appearing in the literature are perceived by school leaders as those most preferred for leading their school? 3. What is the relationship, if any, between the dispositions identified as most preferred by school leaders and the level of their schools performance?


REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER The theoretical perspective we drew on for our research is McGregors Theory X Theory Y (McGregor, 1960) and Transformational Leadership (Bass, 1998). Our premise which informed the use of Theory X Theory Y is that in administrating todays schools, a leader interacts with a variety of individuals and groups in situations in which the leaders disposition is a major determinant of success. The disposition indicators denote an individuals beliefs, values, and type of commitment that tend to be most effective in a school situation (Green, 2009). McGregors theory characterizes how the perception of a leader influences his/her behavior. In addition, the leadership style being advocated for school leaders of toda ys schools is embedded in transformational leadership (Bass, 1998; Burns, 1978). Transformational Leadership Theory describes the behavior of leaders and their relationship with followers (Northouse, 2012). A commitment to the principles of the theory can have a major impact on a school and on student achievement.

Methodology The study was designed in three phases. In Phase One, the researches selected Greens (2013) 49 dispositions as those most representative of the characteristics of effective school leaders appearing in the literature. Next, a population of 123 school leaders was surveyed to determine from among the 49 dispositions the ones they most preferred. Finally, 51 school leaders serving in a school district in the Southeastern United States were asked to rank order the dispositions they most preferred. Using data from the rankings, the researchers conducted a Spearmans rho correlation coefficient to determine the difference, if any, that existed among the leaders based on the performance of their school. Population During the 26th Annual High Schools That Work Staff Development Conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in July, 2012, the researchers presented an interactive session on the topic Leadership Dispositions: Implications for Effective School Leadership. During this session, over 150 school leaders representing schools from across 16 Southeastern states were asked to complete The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale which contained Greens (2013) list of 49 leadership dispositions. From the individuals attending the session, 123 responded to the scale with complete information. Those 123 participants were included in the study. Fortynine (49) of the participants were principals; 55 were assistant principals, and19 were central office administrators. During the third phase of the study, a survey was sent electronically to 51 principals in a school district located in the Southeastern section of the United States. Forty (40) of the 51 individuals responded with complete information for a return rate of 78%. Of the forty (40) responses, 14 were males; 26 were females; 27 were Caucasians, and 13 were African-Americans. Eleven (11) respondents, 27.5%, ranged in ages from 25 to 40; 10 respondents, 25%, ranged in ages from 41 to 50; 18 respondents, 45%, ranged in ages from 51 to 60, and 1 respondent was over 60, 2.5%. The forty (40) respondents included 18 elementary school principals, 45%; 13 middle school principals, 32.5%; 6 high school principals, 15%; 2 kindergarten through 8th grade school principals, 5%, and 1 principal who did not identify the grade configuration of the school. 59

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Table 1 Participants in the Study Source/Phase Literature/Phase One Conference/Phase Two School District/Phase Three Number of Participants N/A 150+ 51 Number of Responses N/A 123 40

Instrument Two instruments were used in the study, The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale and a modified version of that scale. Both instruments were adapted from the dispositions appearing in Practicing the Art of Leadership: A Problem-Based Approach to Implementing the ISLLC Standards (Green, 2013). The first instrument consisted of 49 leadership constructs. Green contends that the 49 leadership constructs characterize the dispositions of effective leadership as exhibited in major research studies and writings. The second instrument was an adaptation of the The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale which contained the 16 dispositions that emerged from an analysis of the data from phase two of the study.

Findings In Phase I of the study, a list of 49 dispositions were selected from Practicing the Art of Leadership: A Problem-Based Approach to Implementing the ISLLC Standards (Green, 2013), representing the dispositions most frequently appearing in the literature as characteristics of effective school leaders. The forty-nine (49) dispositions selected are in the appendix of this paper. These dispositions were used to comprise The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale. The Most Preferred Leader Behavior Scale was administered (during a session) at the 26th Annual High Schools That Works Conference in New Orleans in July, 2012, to an estimated 150 attendees. From among the 49 dispositions listed on the scale, participants were asked to check all of the dispositions that they most preferred to observe as school leaders. One-hundred twenty-three (123) respondents fully completed and returned the survey. For each of the dispositions checked, frequencies were obtained and subsequently ranked from most often chosenRespect being ranked first, receiving some 99 responses-- to least often chosen Predictability being ranked last, receiving only 3 responses. Desirous of reducing the ranked dispositions to a manageable number, the researchers used the ranks to select the top 15 dispositions, later increased to 16, given a tie between the dispositions ranked 15th and 16th. Chosen by a minimum of 45 respondents, the dispositions retained for Phase 3 of the study are presented in Table 2, ranked in terms of frequency and percentage from the most often selected (Respect chosen by 80.5% of the 123 respondents to the least often selected (Courage and 60

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Openness, both chosen by 36.6% of the respondents). Table 2 Dispositions Most Often Selected by Participants at the High Schools That Works Conference Dispositions Respect Communication Honesty Compassion Trust Integrity Passion Vision Commitment Fairness Consistency Ethics Rapport Character Courage Openness % 80.5 69.1 69.1 65.9 65.9 60.2 59.3 56.9 54.5 51.2 43.1 42.3 41.5 37.4 36.6 36.6 n 99 85 85 81 81 74 73 70 67 63 53 52 51 46 45 45

In Phase 3 of the study, the 16 dispositions from Phase 2 were placed into a second version of the instrument in which respondents were asked to perform a forced ranking in order of the importance of the dispositions for being an effective school leader. E-mailed to some 51 61

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER principals in a Southeastern United States school district, the revised instrument garnered complete responses from 40 of the original 51 principals, and all descriptive statistics pertinent to these responses were computed. As summarized in Table 2 below, inspection of these statistics indicated that 3 dispositions were, by far, considered first in order of importance: Vision (Median Rank of 2.5); Character (Median Rank of 4.0), and Integrity (Median Rank of 4.0) and that, along with 3 others, were repeatedly ranked either first, second, or third. As depicted in Figure 1, those dispositions assigned one of the highest three ranks by the largest percentage of respondents were as follows: Vision (57.5%); Character (45%); Integrity (45%); Trust (30%); Ethics (25%), and Communication (22.5). Table 3 Descriptive Statistics Pertinent to the Rank Ordering of the 16 Dispositions Disposition Mdn Rank 4.0 7.5 7.0 11.0 8.5 12.5 6.0 8.0 10.0 4.0 14.0 11.5 13.0 9.0 7.0 2.5 Rank 1-3 M Rank 5.60 7.48 6.98 10.40 8.50 11.65 6.65 8.28 10.55 5.33 12.95 10.60 11.60 7.85 7.05 4.55 SD Rho

01) Character 02) Commitment 03) Communication 04) Compassion 05) Consistency 06) Courage 07) Ethics 08) Honesty 09) Fairness 10) Integrity 11) Openness 12) Passion 13) Rapport 14) Respect 15) Trust 16) Vision *p < .05, one tailed

45.0% 15.0% 22.5% 2.5% 2.5% 2.5% 25.0% 15.0% 2.5% 45.0% 2.5% 2.5% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 57.5%

4.42 3.85 3.67 3.77 3.53 3.77 3.94 3.93 3.92 4.22 3.44 3.89 4.24 3.95 4.22 4.48

0.00 0.05 -0.07 -0.20 0.08 -0.28 * 0.22 0.02 0.03 0.27 * -0.01 -0.02 0.03 -0.05 -0.02 0.14

In addition to these statistics, Spearmans rho correlation coefficients were computed to determine the extent of the relationship between the principals disposition rankings and schoollevel Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) rankings. Inspection of the matrix of these correlations indicated that only 2 of the 16 dispositions were significantly linked in some way to student achievement. After reverse-scoring the dispositions rankings to heighten the interpretability of the results, it was shown that there was a significantly positive relationship between school-wide student achievement based on TVASS and the disposition of courage ( = .28, p = .040) and a significantly negative relationship between school-wide student 62

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER achievement based on TVASS and the disposition of integrity ( = .27, p = 0.045).

100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 45.0% 40% 30.0% 30% 20% 10% 0% 15.0% 2.5% 2.5% 2.5% 22.5% 25.0% 20.0% 15.0% 10.0% 2.5% 2.5% 2.5% 45.0% 57.5%

Figure 1. Percentage of respondents ranking dispositions, first, second, or third.

Discussion Dispositions are characterized as values, beliefs, and attitudes which are exhibited in the behavior of leaders (Melton et al., 2010). While differences exist between the various definitions of disposition, a number of studies appear in the literature that offers evidence that the disposition of school leaders impact the academic achievement of students (Barge, 2009; Barlow, Jordan, & Hendrix , 2003; Helm, 2010). Therefore, a study of preferred dispositions of effective school leaders has merit. A Discussion of the Findings Three research questions guided this study. The intent of the first question was to determine the dispositions most frequently appearing in the literature that characterize effective school leaders. This question was addressed by the selection of dispositions compiled by Green, (2013).These dispositions were selected because they address situational leadership, moral leadership, distributive leadership, transformational leadership, and most specifically 63

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER instructional leadership. Comprehensively, they address the processes used by effective school leaders to communicate, make decisions, manage conflict, and lead change. They are also underpinned by the Interstate School Leader Licensure Standards (ISLLC Standards) which are the premier leadership standards guiding leadership preparation programs nationally (ISLLC, 2008). The second research question sought to identify from among the 49 dispositions the ones most preferred by effective school leaders. To address that question, the researchers explored the preferred dispositions of school leaders in two different groups. The first group consisted of 123 school leaders from 16 states in the Southeastern region of the United States. The second group consisted of 40 school leaders from a school district in one of those states. Each group, a convenient sample of school leaders, was asked to select from Greens (2013) list of dispositions the ones they most preferred as leaders of their school. The first group of 123 participants checked from Greens (2013) list of 49 dispositions, their most preferred dispositions. Using a descriptive rank order frequency research design, the researchers were able to identify the 16 dispositions checked most frequently by the group. The 16 dispositions ranked most frequently were character, commitment, communication, compassion, consistency, courage, ethics, honesty, fairness, integrity, openness, passion, rapport, respect, trust, and vision. These dispositions are frequently referenced in the literature as necessary for effective school leadership (Avolio, 2007; Barlow et al., 2003; Helm, 2010; Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991). Some researchers and writers argue that among them the prevailing disposition for effective leaders is character (Barlow et al., 2003). Having reduced Greens (2013) list of dispositions to sixteen, the researchers were interested in determining from among them the ones most preferred by school leaders in a single school district and if the dispositions of the leaders in that school district were significantly different when compared to the achievement level of their schools. To investigate this question, a convenient school district was selected, and the principals of that district were asked to complete a modified version of the Preferred Leadership Disposition Scale. Data from the participants in the single school district revealed that the participants ranked vision, integrity, and character as either their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd preference. Trust, ethics, and communication were the next three dispositions ranked as preferred. The Preferred Dispositions Vision (57.5%): Fifty-seven point five percent (57.5%) of the participants ranked vision as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd preference. In order to effectively lead a school, the principal has to have a vision of what is possible and be able to share that vision with all stakeholders. A visionary principal facilitates the process of goal-setting within a school and fosters a reputation for providing unique learning opportunities to all students. He or she has high standards of learning for all stakeholders (ISLLC, Standard 1). Bennis agrees with this assertion as he suggest that effective leaders must be able to create a shared vision, have a voice characterized by purpose, operate from a strong moral code, and be able to adapt to change (as cited in Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005). With a vision of what is possible and what the school can become, the principal can lead the effort of reconstructing a school, working with stakeholders to establish standards by which the school will operate. Under visionary leadership, students thrive academically and socially (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Integrity (45.0 %): Forty-five percent (45%) of the participants in the study ranked 64

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER integrity as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd preference. A leader with integrity adheres to a code of ethics, displays moral or artistic values, and is incorruptible. Cash believes the values of the leader are consistent, regardless of time, place, and circumstances. When a school leader has integrity, he or she can build trust, and trust builds relationships (2008). According to Maxwell (2010), trust is the foundation of leadership. In practicing the art of leadership, school leaders with integrity take responsibility for their actions and ensure that all students have access to knowledge (Strike, Haller, & Soltis, 2005) and that all teachers have the same level of support and resources to establish the highest quality in educational standards. In actuality, their actions align with their words (Leroy, Palanski, & Simons, 2012). They acquire a keen understanding of the purpose of education and the role of leadership in modern society (ISLLC, Standard 5). Character (45.0%): Another disposition ranked by 45% of the participants as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd preference was character. School leaders with character have good judgment. They create a moral climate in the schoolhouse and build relationships that foster respect and fairness. In addition, they have fortitude, are self-disciplined, put forth effort, and persevere until the task is completed. In practicing the art of leadership, school leaders have to make decisions regarding a diverse school and community and with character these decisions are made in a fair and equitable manner. The school leader exhibits the type of behavior that demonstrates that he/she believes that diversity enriches the school (ISLLC, Standard 4) and brings benefits to the school community (ISLLC, Standard 2). In essence, school leaders with character are what their belief is. They show consistency between their values, ethical reasoning and actions, and they develop positive psychological states, such as confidence, optimism, hope, and resilience in themselves and their associates. Also, they are widely known and respected for their integrity (Cooper, Santora, & Sarros, 2007). Trust (30.0%) The tabulated results revealed that 30% of the participants ranked trust as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd preference. When trust is pervasive, the school leader is consistent in words, actions, and deeds, and there are no gaps between what he or she says and what he or she does (Ciancutti & Steding, 2001). The faculty members know that they can count on the leader to follow through on promises. For example, if a principal promises to support the faculty in what appears to be a difficult initiative, such as the implementation of a new technology-based science module, the faculty should be able to trust that the principal will provide support by way of resources, encouragement, and professional development to promote the success of the initiative. The current reform movement strongly advocates distributing leadership throughout the organization. In order to distribute leadership, school leaders must be able to trust people and their judgment (ISLLC, Standard 3). The cornerstone of effective leadership in schools is relationships, and trust is the foundation on which relationships are built (Waters et al., 2003). A critical factor in producing positive learning outcomes for students is the trusting behavior exhibited by the school leader (Wang & Bird, 2011). Ethics (25.0%): Twenty-five percent (25%) of the participants ranked ethics as their 1st, nd 2 , or 3rd preference. Effective school leaders administer their schools using various ethical frameworks and perspectives (ISLLC, Standard 5). A set of principles guide their behavior, and the principles are based on informal and formal standards consisting of core values, honesty, respect, and trust (Beckner, 2004). They oversee the proper execution of initiatives within the school and in doing so, they are careful to assess their beliefs to ensure that the beliefs that they hold compliment and are in concert with the expectations of the organization. Communication (22.5%): Communication was ranked 1st, 2nd, or 3rd by 22.5% of the 65

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER participants. Communication is the life blood of the school. When an effective system of communication is in place in the school, the school leader actively listens to diverse points of view and uses the process to link individuals, groups, and the organization for the purpose of building relationships, establishing trust, and earning respect for self and others (Green, 2013). They understand that continuous dialogue with other decision makers affecting education (ISLLC, Standard 6) is vital to their effectiveness and the success of the school. Through effective means of communication, school leaders create a culture where faculty, staff, students, parents, and community members are informed of pertinent matters concerning the school operations. In summary, there is a constant theme embedded within the top 6 dispositions. The top 6 dispositions that emerged in the study are aligned with the principles of moral leadership. The moral dimension of leadership encompasses at least 4 of the highest ranked dimensions preferred: character, integrity, trust, and ethics (Muczyk & Adler, 2002). These beliefs impact how one leads an organization in the sense that a leaders moral obligation is to use his/her abilities to lead others in transforming the organization into what it could be by making decisions that are in the best interest of the school (Brown & Anfara, 2003). The dispositions chosen speaks to the humanistic characteristics of leadership. Cunningham and Cordeiro (2009) validated the human element associated with leaders who possess humanistic characteristics. They suggest that these leaders are supportive in their efforts to develop followers who act in the best interest of the organization. Keeping in line with the importance of attending to the human element associated with leadership, Bennis and Nanus (2003) concluded that when one believes in human growth, this belief generates an environment of trust and authentic relationships. The Relationship between Leader Disposition and Level of School Performance The third question, What is the relationship, if any, between the dispositions identified by school leaders as most preferred for leading schools and the level of school performance? was assessed using data from the group of 40 school leaders. With the exception of courage and integrity, the results of the data analysis revealed that for participants in this study, dispositions had little impact on the level of performance of their school (See Figure 1). One reason that could be offered for this finding is the similar nature in which leaders of the district are required to lead, the philosophy of central office administrators, and the expectations of members of the larger community. With regards to courage and integrity, one might reason that, with courage, a school leader would take the initiative to make the needed changes necessary for school improvement. Also, with integrity, the school leader might be more inclined to ensure that all students have access to knowledge and the opportunity to acquire that knowledge. Nevertheless, as evidenced by their selections, these leaders, regardless of the achievement levels of their schools, encapsulated the characteristics of an effective leader as one who is attentive to the human element associated with leadership and has worked to forge strong relationships with his/her followers. However, these researchers realize the inclusiveness of the findings and that it is evident that additional study is needed in this area.


REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Conclusions Leadership is not about holding a position; rather, it is about skills and the behaviors that surface in the disposition of the individual (Hrebeniuk, 2011). What makes leadership greatness is leaders who begin something that does not end with them. They realize that the impossible is generally untried, and the best way to succeed in the future is to create it. Consequently, effective leaders take off the blinders and look for new opportunities to assist in the education of all students. In the final analysis, school leaders seeking effectiveness must ask themselves: Is my disposition fostering the creation of a climate in the school wherein a difference can be made in the academic achievement and social and emotional well-being of students (Tirozzi, 2001)? It is arguable that the 6 dispositions emerging from this study are the ones that effective leaders should possess as the discourse on dispositions is constrained by ambiguity. The list from which the participants chose may have contained dispositions that appeared to be similar in nature as the definition of one disposition incorporates the definition of another. For example, embedded in the definition of character are respect, fairness, consistency, and integrity. Honesty, respect, and trust are embedded in the definition of ethics. The researchers realize that there is a need to refine the list of dispositions by collapsing the ones that reflect similar values and meaning. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the 6 dispositions that surfaced will enhance the potential success of any leader of todays schools. Understanding them and their influence in the schoolhouse is a start in the process of identifying dispositions that todays school leaders should possess. Crafting research that identifies dispositions of effective school leaders is necessary if we are to understand the behaviors that leaders need to exhibit in order to create the type of climate wherein teacher and learning occurs for all students. Future studies might examine the relationship of dispositions of leaders in a variety of schools. One study could compare the dispositions of leaders in underperforming schools with those of leaders in high-performing schools. Another study might explore the most preferred dispositions, using a wider sample including participants from urban, suburban, and rural schools. What is critical in leading one of todays schools is the understanding that leaders have of themselves and the people with whom they work and serve (Green, 2010). Fully aware of the principles of their disposition, educational leaders can self-reflect, determine how their dispositions influence the behavior of the people with whom they work and serve, and the behavior, if any, that they need to change in order to lead more effectively. The goal of school leaders is to transform schools into learning communities focused on the academic achievement of all students. One set of dispositions may not meet this challenge. However, the finding of this study offers six dispositions that might be used in the process.

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Authors Reginald Leon Green, Ed.D. is Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education at the University of Memphis. Dr. Green teaches courses in educational leadership with a focus on instructional leadership, leadership dispositions, school reform, and models for turning around low performing schools. His research interests include school leadership, team building for 70

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER effective teaching and learning, superintendent/board relations, school district restructuring, and the effects of nurturing characteristics on the academic achievement of students. Tonya Cooper is Principal of Chimneyrock Elementary School in the Memphis City Schools system in Memphis, Tennessee, and a doctoral student in the University of Memphis Doctoral Program. Her research interests are dispositions of effective school leaders, the merger of school organizations, and the transformation of underperforming high, poverty schools.


REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Appendix The Forty-Nine (49) Dispositions Defined Insight: The school leader is knowledgeable of situations and issues that occur in schools and can clearly and intuitively determine the complex nature of those situations and issues for the purpose of addressing them in an effective manner (Bossidy & Charan, 2002). Creativity: The behavior of the school leader reveals that he or she has an imagination; his or her ideas are original and can be transformed into reality (Goleman & Kaufman, 1992). Morality: The actions of the school leader are based on moral principles (Strike, Haller, & Soltis, 2005). Support: The school leader conveys to faculty members in words and deeds that they can depend on him or her to assist them in becoming effective instructors (Green, 2013). Reasoning: The school leader has the conceptual and analytical ability to frame problems and draw conclusions in a manner that leads to an appropriate course of action (Rest as cited in Sivanathan & Fekken, 2002). Passion: The school leader has an entrepreneurial spirit and an infectious desire to achieve a goal or outcome; a powerful and controlling emotion (Bolman & Deal, 2008). Ethics: The school leader uses a set of principles to guide his or her behavior. The principles used are based on informal and formal standards consisting of core values, honesty, respect, and trust (Beckner, 2004). Vision: The school leader is continuously searching for high standards of learning for all students; anticipating what will or may come to reality; imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities ( Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Intelligence: The school leader has the cognitive ability to learn from experience; to reason well; to remember important information, and to cope with the demands of administering a school daily (Sternberg as cited in Huitt, 2002). Communication: The school leader actively listens to diverse points of view and uses the process of communication to link individuals, groups, and the organization for the purpose of building relationships, establishing trust, and earning respect for self and others (Green, 2013). Tact: The school leader displays a sense of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others; gives consideration to the feelings of others; has acquired skills necessary to handle difficult and delicate situations without insulting others (Green, 2013). Diplomacy: The school leader has the ability to rally people to a greater cause and to persuade them to function with enthusiasm doing what they already know is the right thing to do (Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2009). 72

REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Reliability: School leaders are consistent and dependable. They display high degrees of integrity and are able to analyze obstacles to trust, remove those obstacles, and work with members of the organization to build a culture of trust, (Galford & Drapeau, 2002). Integrity: The school leader adheres to a set of moral and ethical principles while displaying soundness of moral character and being honest regarding actions taken. He or she takes responsibility for his or her actions and is willing to ensure that all students have access to knowledge (Strike, Haller, & Soltis, 2005). Character: School leaders exhibit what they believe. They show consistency between their values, ethical reasoning and actions, and develop positive psychological states, such as confidence, optimism, hope, and resilience in themselves and their associates. Also, they are widely known and respected for their integrity (Cooper, Santora, & Sarros, 2007). Fortitude: The school leader exhibits the courage and strength to transform organizations (Riggio, 2009). Imagination: The school leader has the ability to form mental images of real and unreal events and to develop different scenarios or different perspectives on those events. He or she can create a fresh situation or series of events that might lead to the identification of a vision (Werhane, 1999). Accuracy: The school leader is thorough in accomplishing a task and shows concern for all areas involved, no matter how small. He or she organizes time and resources, monitors work products or information, double-checking to ensure accuracy, consistency, and efficiency (Syracuse University, HR Dept., 2012). Influence: The school leader is able to mobilize people around a compelling vision of the future, inspiring them to follow in his or her footsteps. He or she shows people what is possible and motivates them to make those possibilities reality (Bennis & Nanus, 2003). Trust: The school leader is consistent in words, actions, and deeds, and there are no gaps between what he or she says and what he or she does. You can count on him or her to deliver on his or her promises. An individual can be confident in the promised action (Ciancutti, & Steding, 2001). Knowledge: The school leader has an in-depth understanding of school practices, processes, and procedures and uses this information to move the school toward goal attainment (Green, 2013). Management: The school leader achieves goals and objectives of the school by organizing tasks and assignments and monitoring and evaluating operational systems in a manner that ensures a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. Routines are followed and goals are achieved in an efficient and effective manner (Bennis & Nanus as cited in Ricketts, 2009; ISLLC Standards, 2007).


REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Planning: The school leader builds a foundation for teaching and learning to occur and creates a roadmap for successful change when it is needed. He or she outlines and assigns specific tasks that increase the likelihood of organizational success (Anderson & Anderson, 2010). Timeliness: The school leader takes actions regarding school issues at the appropriate time. He or she realizes that addressing issues in an expeditious manner is crucial to the success of the organization (Chaganti & Sherman, 1998; Blanchard & Johnson, 2003). Accountability: The school leader complies with established control systems and holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost- effective results. He or she determines objectives, sets priorities, delegates work, and accepts responsibility for mistakes (Kichak, 2008). Judgment: The school leader exhibits wisdom in taking action and making decisions (Bossidy & Charan, 2002). Organization: The school leader leads with a detailed plan. He or she exhibits behavior that indicates that the necessary time has been devoted to considering alternatives and developing back up plans and contingencies. He or she develops safeguards so that nothing falls through the spaces (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Brody, 2011; Morgan, 1996). Charisma: The school leader has the ability to galvanize people to follow his or her style of leadership. He or she tends to communicate in a way that is effective in drawing people to him or her through his or her personality (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Tenacity: The school leader has an inner drive that pushes him or her to get to the heart of an issue and find solutions. As a result of this inner drive, he or she searches tenaciously for information that is missing and keeps tweaking his or her mental models until he or she arrives at a position that works (Charan, 2007). Humility: The school leader is aware of self, values the opinion of others, is willing to learn and change, and share power. He or she has the ability to hear the truth, admit mistakes, and work to create a culture of openness. Dissent (a difference of opinion) is encouraged in an environment of mutual trust and respect (Lawrence, 2008). Dignity: The school leader values the opinion of others, considers all individuals valuable parts of the school organization, and treats them ethically and with respect (Hicks, 2012). Consistency: The school leader establishes a standard of excellence and maintains that standard while performing and making decisions. The behavior of the leader is consistent with minimal variation as he or she transmits a sense of mission, stimulates learning experiences, and motivates new ways of thinking (Hater & Bass, 1988). Fairness: The school leader gives others a voice and treats them with dignity. They base their decisions on accurate information and are consistent in their practices (Sackett, 2011).


REGINALD LEON GREEN and TONYA COOPER Diversity: The school leader works effectively with people across lines of difference which is integral to creating buy-in and ultimately reaching goals. He or she sets the tone for the group and helps to foster effective intergroup dynamics (Banks, 2010). Logic: The school leader is in pursuit of knowledge, engaging in analysis, questioning, and reasoning to establish depth of comprehension and understanding about a particular topic (Reardon, Reardon, & Rowe, 1998). Predictability: The school leader consistently provides exactly what is planned and/or expected (Kaufman, 2012). Courage: The school leader challenges the process, experiments, and takes risk. He or she has the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Decisiveness: The school leader makes decisions and when they are in the best interest of the school organization, he or she sticks with them in spite of difficult challenges (Smith, & Piele, 1997). Equity: The school leader creates and implements programs and strategies that yield successful outcomes and advancements for all students (Scheurich & Skrla, 2003). Honesty: The school leader behaves in a trusting or trustworthy manner, exercising integrity (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). Openness: The school leader has the ability to entertain different and non-customary ideas. He or she is flexible and willing to change his or her way of thinking when the situation warrants. Displaying openness, the school leader finds ways to celebrate the accomplishments of others (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Adaptability: The school leader is flexible, open to alternatives, and able to adjust to new conditions. He or she is willing to modify his or her position for the sake of other individuals for the good of the school organization (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Schulte & Kowal, 2005; Wildy & Louden, 2000). Compassion: The behavior of the school leader denotes awareness and a sense of caring for the feelings of others (Green, 2013). Sensitivity: The school leader is emotionally intelligent and is aware of the impact his or her decisions and perspectives have on himself or herself and others (Ingram & Cangemi, 2012). Respect: The school leader recognizes the contributions of others and shows appreciation for individual excellence. He or she treats people in the organization as he or she would like to be treated-with dignity and courtesy (Ciancutti & Steding, 2001; Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Rapport: The school leader aligns his or her actions with others because he or she feels that they share similar values (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). 75


Credibility: The school leader is viewed by others as being trustworthy, competent, dynamic, inspiring, and accountable. Others view him or her as one who is proficient and competent to strategically execute the goals of the organization (Matthews, 2010). Commitment: The school leader is dedicated to the growth of the organization and each individual within the organization. The professional and personal growth of stakeholders is nurtured (Spears, 2010). Persuasion: The school leader uses verbal and non-verbal communication to connect with people and to influence them to assist in the achievement of mutually beneficial results (Williams, 2009).