Leadership and mental models. Study of school principals’ awareness

Grzegorz Mazurkiewicz


The main purpose of the proposed paper is to analyze paradigms (theoretical frames) of leadership owned and used by school principals.
The analysis is based on the results of the research conducted for the purpose of defining and describing the school principals’ way of thinking about leadership for education. For the purpose of building framework for research it was assumed that four leadership paradigms might be defined.
Leadership might be understood through classic paradigm of leadership (domination of the significant person or elite group); or transactional paradigm (influence and negotiations); or visionary paradigm (called sometimes charismatic where the most import ant is clear vision); or organic paradigm (existing in multicultural and diverse world where leadership is flexible and leaders change dependently on a situation)
Three methods have been used: interview with 99 principals of schools (of different type), observation in the same number of schools and analyses of the blogs (written on-line by school principals).
It is common to ignore the mental models (or paradigms) used by people what brings certain outcomes for every initiative. It is necessary for policy making, change projects or developmental initiatives to recognize and take under consideration the diversity of possible perspectives (mental models) owned by those who are working in the concerned area, in this case head teachers.
Civilization changes influence context and demands towards schools. Those challenges impact the modernization of schools. One of the common expectation towards management are more open - participative mode of the decision making process and the involvement of employees in sharing responsibilities. Unfortunately different initiatives towards inclusion of employees into management and leadership processes bring rather disappointing results because they ignore ideologies and assumptions of people who decide about school functioning.
Analysis of the results of the research should improve the understanding of the school reality by showing strategies and decisions adequate to the state of “educational consciousness”.

Słowa kluczowe: Educational leadership, mental models, change, development

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