Characteristics of admired school leaders and their role in creating effective schools

Dowds, Antoinette
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Abstract Providing quality education for all in South Africa is problematic. This research explored two areas: the perceived criteria for effective schools and the characteristics desired of school leaders by their followers. A list of fourteen characteristics of effective schools was compiled from the literature. Teachers and members of management of fifteen top private schools were asked to select five characteristics from this list that they felt were most important to schools in South Africa. It was established that effective leadership is essential for effective schools. Key findings included the fact that effective leadership; appointing and retaining quality staff; a clear and shared vision; high standards and a high degree of collaboration were regarded as the five most important characteristics of effective South African schools. The research on desired characteristics of school leaders focused on the relationship between leaders and followers. The research survey of Kouzes and Posner (2007) was used to determine the top seven desired characteristics of leaders from a follower’s perspective. The data was collected using a questionnaire and 167 responses were received. The research was predominantly quantitative in nature and the results obtained were compared to the literature. The seven characteristics of admired leaders desired by followers chosen by respondents included being honest; inspiring; competent; fair-minded; forward-looking; broad-minded and caring. The key message from the research was that effective school leadership is the most important determinant of an effective school. Quality staff, inspired with a collaborative vision can achieve consistently high standards provided they are led by a leader displaying the characteristics listed above.
MBA 2012
Educational leadership, Effective teaching, Teacher effectiveness