The importance of educational leadership in the South African school context
Defining education leadership training is defined as the broader context of all standardized planned articulated and effective learning activities and material that take place in or are delivered as part of a formal study course or programs aimed at expanding educational leaders ‘ knowledge and skills to improve their performance. It is widely acknowledged that leadership influences both learners and teachers ‘ education and school productivity. Knowing education leadership, particularly training and development of educational leaders, is therefore the most important way in which education systems can improve school leaders ‘ efficiency and enhance the quality of teachers and learners as well as the overall effectiveness of schools.
Studies found that the social context in which educational leaders live and lead affects their understanding and interpretation of their own learning when participating in an educational leadership learning program and indicates that a case study and problem-solving approach to such training should not be subject to a one-size-fits-all approach to the learning of educational leadership but a teaching and learning tool should be used.
Research suggests that school leaders are generally recognized as having an impact on the schools they run and that it can even be inferred that leadership is second only to classroom teaching in terms of its effects on school performance and learner achievement (Subrayan, 2015). The value of school leaders and their leadership has been shown by the results of numerous international studies that school leaders influence both learner and school performance and efficiency and improvement in success.
The sharp increase in value and recognition of the role played by school leaders has led to a growing interest among academics and policymakers around the world in the issue of effective learning in leadership in education. Mr Eberlein’s research stresses that the leadership development and growth that school leaders have experienced plays a vital role in creating an effective education environment, e.g. one where students and schools simultaneously excel (Subrayan, 2015). The interest in school preparation and development, together with the study of the nature and characteristics of leadership training needed to generate good leadership and promote good leadership, has now become an international phenomenon and a global academic challenge. Education and development of school leaders has become one of the core strategies in the quest for education reform and enhancement of learners ‘ quality. Context matters in preparation for leadership in education as well as leadership in education. Mr Eberlein’s work highlights the fact that South Africa’s wide range of academic and leadership contexts requires educational leadership training strategies that not only consider this diversity of background but also use it in the planning and design of educational leadership learning programs. Learning strategies and teaching and learning techniques such as case studies or problem-solving learning approaches may contribute predictably to the contextualization of learning not only by placing educational leaders in different contexts, but also by developing contexts such as case studies from the leaders themselves.
This positions their learning in the real world of the nation and in the real world of others working and living in different educational environments, a great leader is self-conscious and understands the importance of engaging with the members of the community and is adaptable to changing ways, he also believes in setting new examples and taking advantage of the power of teaching and learning.
Great leaders may have some common features, but their leadership styles are different, and sometimes they even try different styles based on the current situation.
The diverse educational leadership styles are what set leaders apart from each other.
These are but a few of the diverse leadership styles that leaders make use of:
1. Authoritative (Autocratic)
This is leadership style is most suited when changes include a new vision or when a clear direction is needed. Leaders practicing this drive people towards a vision (Gupta, 2016). Here the leader works as a change catalyst that is self-confident and empathetic. He/she usually encourages the team with confidence and drives them towards the goals that need to be achieved. The come with me style can be noticed. The strongest leading style is where the leader leads the team towards one direction. The drawback is that employees may feel less connected as the leader is the only decision maker and the employees simply have to follow instructions handed down to them.
Transformational leadership is a leadership style in which leaders encourage inspire and motivate employees to innovate and create change which contributes to the growth and success of the company.
This style works best during stressful circumstances. These methods help to heal/ handle cracks in a team or motivate them to keep working. The main qualities of this leader are that he is more inclined towards building relationships and is more empathetic. The style is that of people come first. These leaders create harmony and builds emotional bonds. This type of leader will also build teams that make sure that their followers feel connected to each other. Typically the followers will receive much praise from this style of leader however poor performance tends to go unchecked.
Here the leaders make the final decisions but they include other team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity and people are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. As a result team members tend to have a higher satisfaction and productivity rate in their department. In this style teachers run the school with support of the leader. A very collaborative nature can be observed in organizations that are run under this style of leadership. What do you think kind of attitude can be seen in the leader, though the drawback is that this may not work at the time of making a quick decision.
I think to conform and excel in the 21st century. This is the best style of leadership that can do well in education sector. The leader helps people develop for the future (Gupta, 2016). The leader pushes the teachers and other employees try new things and help them develop and grow. Coaching is an appropriate style for schools because it models learning by encouraging staff to establish long-term development goals and to find ways of attaining them. Coaching leaders give plenty of instruction and feedback. They also excel at delegation. It is a time-consuming approach; however when successfully applied it has a positive effect on climate and performance. This approach works best when employees are already aware of their weaknesses and want to improve but fails when leaders are inept coaches or staffs is resistant to learning
6. Visionary Leadership
This is a mixed approach of first three styles. A visionary leader is clear about what s/he believes and knows is best for learning. The leaders’ individual beliefs have developed in collaboration with other stakeholders and articulated into some kind of vision or mission statement. You’ll hear elements of a vision in the way s/he talks about his work. Also important element is that the experiences of students and outcomes are at the centre of this vision. You’ll know if you hear a vision if it makes you feel something good: inspired motivated excited and so on. A visionary leader talks and walks the schools vision.
Apart from these there are other less adopted styles like empowering that allows employees to have direct decision making responsibilities empathetic that sets a tone to make employees feel engaged humble servitude that focuses on listening and moral/ethical leadership whose only mantra is insistence on ethical behaviour by all.
“According to your answers, you are likely able to envision a clear direction for your company and communicate your plans in a way that excites others. This is an essential skill, because employees will be much more willing to achieve a goal if they are passionate about it. Remember that the manner in which you communicate your vision is essential. For instance, if you present your ideas to others in a confident manner, they will likely go over more easily. People who excel in this area are innovative visionaries who are confident in their ability to persuade and convince others. They consider it essential to make those they lead aware of, as well as part of, their vision.” These exact words were the result of my leadership test.
I firmly believe that I have the necessary approach and expertise to lead a team as I have been exposed to the necessary skills and development which will effectively contribute to this fact. Maimonides Laws of kings state that “the purpose and intent of a true leader shall be to elevate mankind’s faith, and to fill the world with justice.
This statement couldn’t be truer. On our own, we lack the vision, direction, and strength to reach our goals. We all begin our lives in need of guidance – even the most precocious child could not possibly be expected to make certain crucial decisions. Once we become adults, with the capacity to reason for ourselves, we are so overwhelmed by the pressures of daily survival that we rarely find the time and energy to focus on life’s larger issues. And when we do, our emotions and inherent subjectivity limit our vision and constrict our movement.
As per the outcome of my test I possess the ability to provide new perspective, inspiring those around me to abandon the narrow field of vision and thinking. When they are preoccupied with their self-interests – be it petty or great – a true leader sends out a wake-up call, alerting to seek the true priorities in life.
My greatest weakness is that inconsistency and uncertainty creates anxiety and for this reason I tend to practice the Authoritative (Autocratic) style of leadership. This leader is generally the only decision maker that will ask for opinions but still makes the decision based on their beliefs and knowledge and what they believe is best practice.
I believe that I could terminate this style and behaviour by having more faith in those around me as well instead of simply giving an instruction.
My next steps to overcome this behavior:
Establish Clear Rules: I will ensure that clear rules and guidelines are set in place and that everyone is fully aware of the existence thereof.
Provide the group with the knowledge and tools they need: Once everyone understands the rules, I will make sure that they have the education and abilities to perform the tasks set before them. If they need additional assistance I will offer oversight and training to fill in this knowledge gap.
Be reliable: I will follow through and enforce the established rules.
Recognize success: I will reward success and acknowledge greatness where due.