This chapter presents the findings of this study, in relation to the key themes developed from the data, which illustrate and explain four head teachers’ perceptions and practices in regard to leadership in their schools. The main themes developed from the interviews are: concepts of leadership; styles of leadership; training for leadership; developing a vision for schools; the head teacher’s relationships with: the assistant head teacher, the teachers, the students, the parents and community; the bureaucracy; and the School Managing Committee, and political influence in schools. The participants were also asked to speak about the dream they have for their schools. The research questions, ideas and opinions of the head teachers are organised into these themes.
Concept of leadership
When the head teachers were asked about their perceptions of leadership, all participants spoke of leadership involving working together with others to create a congenial atmosphere for education.
When asked about his understanding of leadership Shahid stated:
To me, leadership means to work with students, teachers, parents and managing committee members to go ahead for the development of school, for making the environment of the school good. I put emphasis on working together with the people who are related to the school.
Hasan thinks that leadership is a very important and complex issue for the school. To him leadership refers to the work of the head teacher, as he believes that success depends on the performance of the head teacher. As he explained:
A school is a social organisation by which education is spread over an area and betterment of the organisation depends on the head teacher. If the head teacher leads the school properly then the local people, government, and the nation can reach the target.
When asked about his understanding of leadership, Rahim also put importance on the performance of the head of the school. He made his point by saying:
If anyone asks about the standard of the school, the answer is ‘as the head teacher’. Everything depends on the leadership quality of the head teacher. It depends on the head of the school, how he is operating, how everything will go ahead, how he controls his staff. Maximum depends on the head.
Karim explained that in order to lead well the main thing is to be connected with the community and to understand the problems of the people. As he said:
There are near about 1500 students and 20 staff members in my school. I have the parents of the students, and local leaders. I have to coordinate with all of them and meet their demands. I think one who is a good head teacher can do his job with skill. There may be many problems in front of me to run the school. Not only the problems of the students’ learning, but also political problems, financial problems, coordination problems might need to be solved.
While the head teachers believed they were ultimately responsible for the success of the school, they felt it was important to work with the stakeholders of the school to achieve their goals. All head teachers expressed the view that a ‘good school’ means ‘a good head of the school’, but they also acknowledged that this involved working successfully with many other stakeholders.
Styles of leadership
When the head teachers discussed the style of leadership they use in their schools they stressed that they work together with the teachers of the school. They incorporate both managerial and a democratic styles of leadership. By ‘democratic style’ of leadership they mean that they work together with others, including discussing matters with the teachers before taking decisions. By leading their schools in a managerial style, they refer to valuing the effective management of activities in the school. Regarding the managerial style of leadership Shahid stated that:
Among different types of leadership like democratic, autocratic and managerial leadership, I give importance to managerial leadership because we can lead the institution perfectly by good management, – manage everything systematically.
Hasan believes that he is a democratic leader. He thinks that working together is a good approach for good governance. He said:
I never work alone. I work with others. I am the head teacher. There are many teachers under my supervision. I do not think that they are my subordinates. They are knowledgeable persons. I evaluate their knowledge and skill. I value their suggestions while making decision.
Rahim reported that he works with a combination of managerial and democratic styles of leadership. He explained his position by saying:
Basically I lead the school in a democratic way. But sometimes I follow the managerial process also. Generally I work together with the teachers. I also communicate and seek cooperation from the members of the school managing committee.
Karim is also a supporter of a democratic approach to leadership within the school administration and management. He does not like to work in an autocratic style. When asked about his style of leading the school, he said:
I do not agree with autocratic leadership at all. I do not like to work alone. I love to work with others. I discuss with the teachers, students, staff and the members of the SMC to lead the school. I work in both the democratic and managerial style.
Most of the head teachers from the four schools described their leadership style as a combination of democratic and managerial styles. While realising that the ultimate responsibility as school leader rests with them, they see the importance of discussing school matters with the teachers and other stakeholders before making decisions. They use a managerial style to ensure the school is run in a systematic way, and a democratic style because they see the need to work together with other stakeholders to achieve the schools goals.
SHEIKH MOHAMMAD ALI: Assistant Professor in Education, Govt. Teachers’ Training College, Rangpur, Bangladesh.