Fri, 07/29/2022 - 3:49pm
While some great leaders may be born, others are surely made. You may be blessed with a certain set of natural leadership abilities, but effective leadership doesn’t take a single, universal form that applies equally well in all situations, at all organizations, or for all teams in the educational sector (or any other sector, for that matter). Read on for more vital information about leadership styles in education.
Why Is Leadership Vital to Education?
Educational leaders are not only responsible for various aspects of student instruction and well-being, but often have fellow educators and other professional colleagues under their direct supervision. Exceptionally talented educational leaders can rapidly ascend to the top levels of a school’s chain of command, occupying any number of senior administrative positions.
What Are Leadership Roles in Education?
Educational leaders may be responsible for the oversight of an internal school department, an entire institution of learning, or even an entire educational district. No matter what their responsibilities happen to be, a truly effective leader will employ a variety of leadership styles to better meet the unique demands of the task at hand.
Common examples of career positions in educational leadership include:
- Principal – At the elementary, middle, and high school levels, principals oversee all school staff, operations, and activities. The specific duties of these head administrators range from coordinating curriculums and setting curriculum standards to meeting with parents to discuss student behavior and academic progress.
- Vice-Principal – Otherwise known as assistant principals, vice-principals are school administrators who support the principal in the daily operation and management of a school. While some vice-principals assume a general administrative role, others may focus on administrative elements, including school security, teacher evaluation, discipline management, or parental involvement.
- Superintendent – As the senior administrative officer of a school district, a superintendent is tasked with overseeing operations and management district-wide. Their duties span areas that include educational programming, policy implementation, personnel supervision, financial management, and community engagement.
- Assistant Superintendent – Similar to an assistant principal, an assistant superintendent supports the head superintendent to lead and manage daily educational operations. But while assistant principals generally focus on activities within a single school, assistant superintendents generally have a network of school district institutions under their jurisdiction.
What Are the 10 Most Effective Leadership Styles?
You’ll want to be well versed in leadership styles if you want to further your career as an educator while making a positive difference for students, faculty, and the schools they work for. Here are 10 of the most effective leadership styles that you can adopt.
1. Coaching Leadership Style
Educators who adhere to the coaching leadership style tend to take on the role of mentor to the teams or classes under their purview. This style enables a professional to build strong bonds with subordinates while helping them acquire knowledge and develop skills. An educator using a coaching leadership style will identify areas for improvement for students and staff, then demonstrate how these improvements can be made. A key component of the coaching leadership style is to remain empathetic toward the needs, capabilities, and objectives of students and staff, while keeping a concerted focus on the overarching mission of the governing organization.
2. Strategic Leadership Style
The strategic leadership approach is often used to conduct long-term planning. This style works by investigating and analyzing current school and classroom performance before developing a series of strategies to improve that performance. While laying out these improvement plans and goals, the strategic educational leader will concentrate less on the concerns and short-term ambitions of today and more on the creation of a goal structure that furthers the long-term aspirations of a district, school, faculty, or student body. Professionals who employ this style find that it works best for functions such as analyzing organizational data, allocating important resources, and developing productive partnerships.
3. Affiliate Leadership Style
To successfully follow the affiliate leadership style, a leader must place concerted focus on the individuals they are leading. In the educational setting, this might mean concentrating on any combination of students or faculty members, oftentimes at the expense of the leader’s own wants and needs. Most professionals who adopt an affiliate-style leadership role value the development of trust among their subordinates and strive to empower these subordinates to meet their goals and reach their full potential. A key component of the affiliate leadership style is avoiding micromanagement by granting considerable autonomy to subordinates and allowing them the space they need to dutifully carry out their plans and strategies.
4. Coercive Leadership Style
A coercive leadership style demands that subordinates promptly comply with all orders, with little to no tolerance for behavior that is incompatible with the guiding objectives of the organization. The educational leader identifies a specific goal or outcome and determines what team member activities need to be completed to reach that goal or outcome. If you take this approach to leadership, it is extremely important to provide subordinates with well-defined procedures and outline exactly what needs to be done. Although coercive leadership is generally inappropriate and often counterproductive over the long term, it can often achieve desired short-term results faster than other leadership styles. Some education professionals reserve the coercive leadership approach for crisis situations or when rapid changes are necessary.
5. Authoritative Leadership Style
Demanding a military-like compliance of orders, authoritative leaders often employ a variety of coercive tactics to guide and motivate others. Taking a decidedly “top down” communication approach, strict authoritarian leadership , asks for little, if any, input from subordinates. The authoritative leadership style is particularly effective for education professionals who are experts in their fields. If they know that they are in good hands, stakeholders such as students, faculty members, and fellow administrators will be far more likely will respect a leader and their strategies. When these stakeholders believe that their leader holds the keys to success, they will be far more willing to follow their direction without question. Institutions of learning that operate according to rigorous rules and policies lend themselves more readily to the authoritative leadership style. Like the coercive leadership style, the authoritative leadership style typically works best for limited periods of time and during times of crisis. Unlike the affiliate leadership style, the authoritative leadership style encourages the active supervision of all subordinates while constantly monitoring their progress and performance.
6. Transactional Leadership Style
Much like a business transaction, the transactional leadership style is based on the mutually beneficial exchange of something deemed valuable. In this spirit, the transactional leader motivates subordinates by offering them rewards. Whether monetary in nature or otherwise, these rewards may appeal to some subordinates more than others. For example, a transactional educational administrator may want teachers to hit specific classroom performance benchmarks in exchange for field trip funding. Furthermore, teachers may expect students to complete certain tasks according to certain standards in exchange for field trip participation.
7. Emotional Leadership Style
Education professionals who implement the emotional leadership style place an emphasis on their subordinates’ feelings and mental state. To employ this style effectively, leaders must have high levels of emotional intelligence, meaning they must have a high awareness of their own feelings and are able to strategically manage and control them. It also means they must be exceptionally adept at understanding the feelings of others, including how to read and interpret them. The emotional leader needs to know how to motivate others psychologically, both through their existing emotions and through the emotions that they want to experience.
8. Instructional Leadership Style
The instructional leadership approach puts the classroom under the magnifying glass to get a far better look at the performance of teachers and students alike. By concentrating on instruction, school administrators can better support and advance the professional development of educators, while educators work diligently to improve the performance of their students. Educational professionals who adopt the instructional leadership style generally have very high expectations of subordinates. They often borrow strategies from the transactional leadership playbook by offering instructors various incentives for meeting expectations.
9. Pacesetting Leadership Style
Subordinates who are generally experienced and self-motivated may respond particularly well to the pacesetting leadership style. Reflecting of the adage of “leading by example,” pacesetting leadership involves setting the pace by asking subordinates to follow in their leader’s footsteps rather than focusing on specifically stated or long-established organizational objectives. Professionals put this approach into action by setting and working toward improvement goals for themselves. These goals might include the acquisition of new skills or the achievement of higher productivity levels. The hoped-for result is that subordinates will strive to emulate these accomplishments.
10. Transformational Leadership Style
Educational professionals who utilize the transformational leadership style strive to serve as a strong role model for others. In fact, any leader who employs the transformational leadership style must be cognizant of many other educational leadership styles. They must endeavor to empower subordinates in the spirit of the affiliate leadership style, create a shared desire for goal attainment in the spirit of the transactional leadership style, and energize team members both intellectually and emotionally in the spirit of the emotional leadership style. The principal defining characteristic of the transformational leadership style is collaboration. The transformational leader solicits input and feedback from all team members and colleagues, so if this leadership approach is to succeed, clear communication is needed at all levels.
How Can This Help With Your Educational Career?
Beyond stressing collaboration, the transformational style of leadership highlights the fact that many leadership styles have distinct advantages. Of course, each leadership style also comes with its own unique disadvantages.
For these reasons, a good educational leader will want to possess a mastery of many different leadership styles as well as the wisdom to choose the right style for the occasion. It may be helpful to think of the ten leadership styles we’ve highlighted above as tools that you can keep in your administrative toolbox. By selecting the right tool for the job at hand, you can exhibit tremendous professional versatility while fostering a workplace and academic environment that fosters productivity and well-being.
When educational professionals encounter a problem or see an opportunity for improvement, they can use the appropriate leadership style to address it head-on. Bound to yield results for the organizations they lead, a firm grasp of multifaceted leadership techniques is indispensable for educators with administrative ambitions.
Earn Your Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership at University of the Cumberlands
The best way to hone your leadership skills as an educator and further your current levels of training and experience is to enroll in an accredited doctorate in educational leadership program. At University of the Cumberlands, you can earn this terminal degree entirely online.
Take your career to the next level while making a lasting impact on your school and community by taking a leadership role in the field of education. University of the Cumberlands can provide the education and training that you need.
If you’re interested in learning more about our online doctorate in educational leadership, reach out to University of the Cumberlands today. You can request more information from an admissions officer or apply to the doctorate in educational leadership program directly.