Relationship strategies that support the achievement of school-wide goals : case studies of two secondary schools
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2381
Educational leaders frequently face leadership dilemmas as they seek to achieve school goals while also supporting the relational needs of staff. When dilemmas remain unresolved, the school’s ability to implement goals related to quality teaching and learning may be compromised. While this process can be challenging, the alignment of organisational and human needs is crucial towards creating and maintaining a positive work ethic and a willingness to support the change process. Previous studies on relationships, organisational goals, and approaches towards managing staff relationships are researched in isolation, and therefore appear to be unrelated to each other. This research has used a more holistic approach to draw on the findings from previously isolated studies and current leadership practice to establish a connection between school-wide goals and relationship practices, and inform a range of possible effective relationship strategies that emerged from this study.A humanistic paradigm and associated qualitative approach was adopted involving the case studies of two secondary schools to gain an in depth understanding of the nature of dilemmas that arise and the leader’s attempts to address these challenges. Two methods of data collection were used to gather information. Firstly, documentary analysis helped develop a comprehensive understanding of the vision and goals of each school and the systems put in place to support this. Secondly, interviews of four staff at different levels of leadership in each school provided multiple perspectives on the link between school-wide goals and individual practice, leadership dilemmas, and the relationship strategies used by educational leaders. For my analysis, I used a framework made up of the three components of organisational, interpersonal, and intrapersonal to understand the data at three different levels. Applying these frames revealed a range of relationship strategies and leadership qualities that participants considered important as leaders attempted to merge organisational and relational needs. Mutuality, collaborative processes, professional development, and building trusting relationships was found to have a profound impact on achieving school-wide goals and preventing the emergence of ‘leadership dilemmas’. Research findings also highlighted a range of interpersonal and intrapersonal leadership strategies perceived to have the greatest influence on creating trust, while the absence of, or demonstrating the opposite often led to a breakdown in relations. A new conceptualisation of employee dilemmas emerged, where a teacher’s ability to perform may be inhibited by leaders who exhibited negative behaviours. Therefore, provisions need to be made for leadership programmes targeted towards the prevention and resolution of dilemmas through challenging thinking, encouraging critique of practice, and addressing mind-sets and theorising.