Effective leadership in a challenging context : a case of an Umlazi Township school.
Dlamini, Mbongiseni Bethwell.
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Effective school performance has long been associated with effective school leadership. International research into effective school leadership revealed that transformational leadership may contribute positively towards effective school performance. While this standpoint has dominated the international ‘school improvement’ literature, this area has not been covered adequately in the relevant South African literature. The dissertation aims at bridging that gap. A qualitative research approach was used and purposive sampling was employed. A total of 14 educators, one SGB member and the principal of an Umlazi high school were interviewed for this purpose. The results of the study demonstrated that the success of the school is attributable not only to one specific leadership style but to the integration of transformational and transactional leadership approaches depending on the context within which leadership decisions were being taken. There was evidence of power-sharing and collective decision-making between the principal and his followers which was found to have established a harmonized school community. The study revealed further that the performance of the school was enhanced by the existence of a deeply entrenched culture of teaching and learning in the school. The entrenchment of the school culture was made possible by the principal’s power to motivate his teachers who in turn dedicated themselves towards the realisation of the school goals. It was found further that school effectiveness had been enhanced by the school entering into partnerships with various stakeholders who helped the school deal with its challenges. These strategies are transformative and their implementation and sustainability is possible only in circumstances where the leadership and followers are working together as companions. Basing his argument on the findings of this study and a few other studies, the researcher argues that for transformational-oriented leadership approaches to be successful in improving school performance, they should be complemented by a management component of leadership (transactional leadership) that will ensure effective resource management, curriculum delivery, monitoring of school performance and protecting the school from disruptive external elements. Shared leadership between leaders and followers in the school requires that the leaders and followers become adept in learning to enhance the development of knowledge and capabilities necessary to improve township school performance.
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