An effective leader takes charge of a situation and finds a quick resolution. Not all leaders, however, use the same methods to find the same solution. Leadership styles are as different as the persons using them, and educational leaders, those who disseminate knowledge on a wide range of topics, are a particularly diverse group of people.

Becoming an educational leader is a true calling, an amazing calling. Answering the call, however, requires advanced education and a lot of hard work. Doctorate in Educational Leadership programs are designed to assist talented and skilled educators to take their leadership skills to the next level, equipping them to make a lasting impact on their school and community. An educational leadership program develops the expertise and leadership skills needed to discover new learning solutions, shape the future of education, and guide other educators in achieving better student outcomes.

Leadership is Vital to Education

Educational leaders may be responsible for their peers and everyone working under them. Talented educational leaders typically rise to the top of a school’s chain of command, moving into upper-level administrative positions. Educational leaders may be responsible for the oversight of an entire school or even an educational district. In both positions, the leadership style a professional will use varies depending on what is required of them and the type of leader they happen to be. Examples of educational leadership careers include:

  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • Vice-principal
  • Assistant Superintendent

Each of these education professionals encounters existing problems in an educational system and must find a solution. An educational leader’s responsibilities lie in the execution of a reasonable and unbiased learning atmosphere. Even more importantly, educational leaders are responsible for defining and influencing educational reform.

Why Are Educational Leadership Styles Important?

If a person is responsible for staff management or instructing students, they must adopt and perfect an effective style of leadership. Some methods often work better than others, with the outcome being influenced by the individual using them and the circumstances in which they are used. Having various options lets an education professional determine the best way to approach a challenge. Although the education professional defines the solution, the implementation often falls to the educators who work alongside them. Various styles of leadership are needed to inspire educators to do what is required for the improvement of the educational system. The leadership styles an education professional may use vary.

To effectively lead students, teachers or administrators, a framework is needed to define an approach. The adoption of a leadership style helps the professional determine their decision process, their goal prioritization, and how they choose to interact with others. When the correct leadership style is used in any given situation, the professional may quickly resolve conflicts, find the solutions to complex problems, revise their school’s course, and even improve entire educational systems.

10 Effective Educational Leadership Styles

Let’s look at ten educational leadership styles and explore how each of them affects the students, the professional’s team, and the organization.

1. Coaching Leadership Style

When the coaching leadership style is implemented, the education professional takes on the role of mentor to a team or class. This style allows the professional to build strong bonds with subordinates while also focusing on helping them develop their skill sets.

A professional using a coaching leadership style identifies areas for improvement among students and staff, then demonstrates how their weaknesses may be improved. The education professional endeavors to maintain empathy towards the needs, capabilities, and goals of the students and staff, while also maintaining focus on the overarching goals of the organization.

2. Strategic Leadership Style

Strategic leadership style is often used when long-term planning is required. This style works well when current school and/or classroom performance is analyzed, and then improvement goals are laid out. A professional using the strategic leadership style focuses less on the concerns and short-term ambitions of today and, instead, focuses more on creating a goal structure that helps others reach long-term aspirations.

The professional who uses this style best focuses on allocating resources, analyzing data, and developing partnerships. The strategic professional finds partnerships and collaboration to be vital to the accomplishment of important long-term goals.

3. Affiliate Leadership Style

Affiliate leadership style focuses entirely on the people being led, which may include students or faculty. The education professional chooses to totally support and focus on those who depend on their leadership instead of their personal goals and needs.

Most professionals who implement affiliate-style leadership focus on developing trust among their subordinates and empowering others to fulfill their goals. When this type of leadership style is practiced, the leader must trust the process, believing that their subordinates (students and faculty) will dutifully carry out their plans and strategies.

4. Coercive Leadership Style

Coercive leadership style is a strict authoritarian approach to leadership. When this style is used, the education professional expects everyone to comply with all demands made. The education professional identifies what changes are required and what activities need to be accomplished to reach a specific goal or outcome. The professional provides well-defined procedures and outlines what needs to be done and how to make the changes required.

Although this style of leadership is often inappropriate for long periods of time, it generally achieves results for leaders who need to achieve significant goals, generally in a short span of time, and for those who can concentrate completely on their goals.

Some education professionals use coercive leadership style during a crisis, often placing strict boundaries on specific activities and reducing behaviors having a negative impact on what needs to be achieved. Educators may use coercive leadership style to quickly improve their class’s performance.

5. Authoritative Leadership Style

Authoritative leadership style is particularly effective when an education professional has a substantial amount of expertise that proves the professional’s authoritative approach can succeed. With the authoritative leadership style, the education professional anticipates that students, teachers, and administrators will respect them and their strategies.

Authoritative leadership style works well in an educational setting that already mandates and operates under rigorous rules and policies. In this environment, an authoritative leadership style ensures the professional’s subordinates will follow their lead. This style of leadership helps the education professional establish a large-scale vision and the short-term steps required for success. The education professional delegates specific procedures for each subordinate to follow to ensure the organization reaches its goals. They also oversee everyone involved, monitoring all progress and performance.

6. Transactional Leadership Style

Transactional leadership could be compared to a business transaction or an exchange of something deemed valuable. The education professional sets expectations while also providing some support and resources (within limits) to set the team up for success.

A transactional leadership approach generally works best when subordinates are motivated by a reward, monetary or otherwise. This style may work only for select faculty because many are motivated by goals and/or greater purposes over that of money alone.

An example of a transactional deal would be for an administrator to expect teachers to reach specific classroom performance standards in exchange for field trip funding. In turn, students could be expected by their teachers to reach certain standards in exchange for planning the field trip.

7. Emotional Leadership Style

The education professional who uses emotional leadership style focuses on their subordinate’s feelings. The professional must have sharp emotional intelligence to effectively use this leadership style. They must also have a keen understanding of how to read and interpret feelings. The education professional needs to know how to motivate others using their current feelings and emotions, as well as future feelings and emotions the professional knows their subordinates want to experience.

8. Instructional Leadership Style

Many administrative education professionals choose to use instructional leadership style which simultaneously puts emphasis on improvements in teaching performance and student progress. Administration professionals take on the accountability of advancing the professional development of teachers, while teachers work diligently to improve their student’s performance. Those who adopt the instructional leadership style have high expectations of subordinates and provide incentives for meeting expectations.

Those who use the instructional leadership style monitor the performance of those under them – administrators monitor teachers, teachers monitor students. Those using this leadership model arrange for regular evaluations and provide or arrange for additional training or help when it’s needed.

9. Pacesetting Leadership Style

Pacesetting leadership style may work well when the professional’s subordinates are motivated and experienced. In this style, the education professional sets the pace by providing a good example rather than focusing on establishing goals for their subordinates. To put this style into action, the professional sets and works towards improvement goals for themselves. This could include goals such as acquiring new skills or increasing their own productivity. The hoped-for result is that those beneath them would strive to emulate their example.

10. Transformational Leadership Style

With transformational leadership style, the education professional uses a collaborative approach to management, serving as a strong role model for their subordinates. In empowering others, the transformational leader creates a shared desire for improvement and goal attainment. For this leadership style to succeed, clear communication is required on all levels. The team must set large-scale goals and leaders must be able to delegate tasks without having to keep close tabs on everyone to ensure that progress and performance are maintained.

A leader who utilizes transformational leadership style must be cognizant of several other educational leadership styles. For example, they need to know how to motivate and inspire others. They need to know how to stimulate their team both intellectually and emotionally. And, last but not least, they need to know how to focus on the self-interests of others, as well as themselves. A transformational leader can expect loyalty, respect, and trust from their subordinates and students.

Earn Your Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership at University of the Cumberlands

Earning an online Doctorate in Educational Leadership will complement your current experience and education level, equipping you to be an educational leader who makes a lasting impact on your school and community. If you’re passionate about making a difference in the field of education, our online program will prepare you to take your career to the next level.

If you’re interested in learning more about our online Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree, reach out to University of the Cumberlands. Contact an admissions counselor, request more information today or apply today.