Current available literature on leadership theories in context of modern organizations are still varied in terms of number and types of the major leadership theories. In the journal of Harvard Business Review, Tannenbaum and Schmidt have summarized the four common leadership theories that can be identified in modern organizational leaders (2008). In general there are four major types of leadership styles that apply to all types of leaders and managers regardless of their fields of professional. The leadership styles that have so far been advanced were developed with organizational leaders in mind and include democratic style, authoritative style, bureaucratic and Leissez-Faire Style (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 2008).In this context school principles can be viewed as leaders, albeit with some form of limitations, another limitation is that a school system doesn’t strictly fit the definition of an organization per se.
However, what is not in contention is that the roles of managers and leaders are very similar and greatly correlate with each other. Since school principles are usually the highest ranking persons in schools, their leadership style is crucial in determining the direction and performance of their school as Buckner attested in a research study that investigated the role of school principles (2006). The type of leadership style is one of the major factors that determine the performance of a school besides others such as school traditions and policies. This is because a principle might find that deviating from the traditional leadership style of the school might result in management crisis (Buckner, 2006).
A major determinant to the type of leadership style in Organizations has to do with attitude; indeed the approach that a leader adopts to manage people is largely influenced by the attitude of the manager towards employees (Hofstede, 1977). This is according to Geert Hofstede, the Germany psychologist who researched the revolutionary findings that provided the first measurable evidence between association of culture and organization in what he termed as power distance (1977). Other factors that influence the type of leadership styles include personality type that is usually determined by the level of education, skills, experience, and previous work environment (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 2008).
With the advent of the school-based management system (SBM) that has now been introduced in many schools, principles are now expected to make more decision that directly affect the running of the school than was traditionally the case (Wohlstetter and Mohrman, 2006). The tasks and leadership styles of school principals tend to vary with the nature of their roles which include management, administration, instructional leaders and as curriculum leaders. As a manager the roles of a school principle involves student management, discipline enforcement, financial management, managing school assets and chairing of school committees among others responsibilities (Wohlstetter and Mohrman, 2006). As an administrator the Principle’s role is to ensure that the institution is running smoothly by ensuring that all parameters of the school system are performing according to the desired level, for this reason the management roles of school Principles are inseparable with their administrative duties (Wohlstetter and Mohrman, 2006).
School Principle as an Instructional leader is an emerging concept that require school Principles to be more focused on student academic performance by ensuring high quality of teaching standards (Blase, J. and Blase, Jo., 2000). Finally School Principles are required to be curriculum leaders by the virtue of their profession; curriculum development and processes is one of the key areas that an effective school Principle should be thoroughly competent in since it is one of the characteristics of high achieving schools (Minehira and Marlow, 2005).
Buckner, K. (2006). School Principal: The Role of Elementary and Secondary School Principals, Principal Duties and Responsibilities, Principal Qualifications. Retrieved from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2333/Principal- School.html
Blase, J. and Blase Jo. (2000). Effective Instructional Leadership: Teachers’ Perspectives on how Principals Promote Teaching and Learning in Schools. Journal of Educational Administration, 38(2): 130-141.
Hofstede, Geert. (1977). Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
Minehira, N. & Marlow, S. (2005). Principles as Curriculum Leaders: New Perspective for the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://www.prel.org/products/Products/Curriculum.htm
Tannenbaum, R. & Schmidt, W. (2008). How to Choose a Leadership Pattern. Harvard Business Review, 733(23): 123-178.
Wohlstetter, P. & Mohrman, S. (2006). School Based Management: Changing Roles for School Principles. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/SER/SchBasedMgmt/roles.html