TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP THROUGH CONNECTEDNESS:
THREE CASE STUDIES OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
B.A., University of Northern Colorado, 1978
M.A., University of Colorado, 1983
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
1994 by Darlene LeDoux
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree
has been approved for the
School of Education
LeDoux, Darlene (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation) School of
Education, University of Colorado at Denver
Transformational Leadership through Connectedness: Three Case Studies of
Elementary School Principals
Thesis directed by Professor Michael J. Murphy.
The purpose of this study was to identify and examine how elementary
school principals who were identified as transformational leaders connected
with teachers. The concept of connectedness derives in part from Bums'
(1978, pp. 1, 2) description of individualized consideration used by
transformational leaders to develop a bond, a 'connection" with followers.
Current literature and research about connectedness is almost non-existent
except for some basic research related to the use of individualized
consideration in schools. Individualized consideration is defined by Bass
(1985) as the developmental and individualistic orientation that leaders
maintain toward subordinates. The theoretical significance of this study was
to provide an in-depth account of how transformational principals connect with
teachers in their day-to-day activities. The practical benefit of this study was
to gain insight into the role and function of elementary principals as
transformational leaders. Learning more about how principals connect with
teachers provides the basis for improving leadership in schools and thus
leads to education that better meets the needs of our students.
Three case studies provided the data used to analyze the ways by which
principals establish and maintain connections with teachers. Each case
included data related to two incidents in each school which were the vehicles
for data collection. The research design was multiple interviews with the
principals and interviews with teachers, staff members, and parents.
The following conclusions emerged from the three case studies.
1. There are six criteria for connectedness to occur
there must be a desire to connect by both the principal and the
the principal must be accessible
there must be a chemistry and compatibility between the principal
and the teacher
the principal must have time or make time available and have the
willingness and interest to connect with teachers
the principal must have self-knowledge or some sense about
her/his leadership practices, and
the principal must be willing to take a risk to extend her/his hand to
connect with teachers.
2. There are three major types of connectedness:
when the leader engages followers
when the leader converts followers into leaders, and
when the leader builds a collective purpose with followers.
3. There are degrees of connectedness: Some leaders connect more
one way than the other. A leader may prefer to connect by engaging
followers and then by helping them move up the career ladder. Also,
one leader may demonstrate more connectedness than another leader.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication.
The Principal as the Leader..................................4
The Connectedness Between Leader and Follower................9
Purpose of the Study........................................10
Scope of the Study..........................................11
Summary of Methods..........................................11
Collaborative and Creative Nature of This Research..........12
Structure of the Thesis.....................................12
2. REVIEW OF SELECTED LITERATURE...............................14
Theories of Leadership......................................14
Research on Transformational Leadership.....................21
Setting: West Public Schools................................38
Selection of Sample............................................41
Pilot Study of Interview Guides.............................45
Initial Interviews with Principals and Selection of Change
Gathering of Information from Episodes.........................47
4. KAREN MARX.....................................................53
Vehicles of Investigation......................................55
Establishment of Joint Governing Team.......................55
The Principal in Action........................................57
Karen Marx at Murphy Elementary School......................57
Connectedness and Karen Marx................................60
5. ANA DEL CASTILLO...............................................86
Vehicles of Investigation......................................88
The Move from an ECE-2nd Grade to an ECE-5th Grade
Meeting the Needs of Kids Through the Intervention
Team: Focusing on Student Needs Rather than Adult
The Principal in Action........................................90
Ana Del Castillo at Martinez Elementary School..............90
Connectedness and Ana Del Castillo..........................94
6. RON DANIELS................................................124
Vehicles of Investigation..................................125
The Principal in Action....................................129
Ron Daniels at Greenwood Elementary School..............129
Connectedness and Ron Daniels...........................131
7. HOW ELEMENTARY PRINCIPALS CONNECT WITH
TEACHERS: FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS ACROSS CASES...............145
Setting of the Study.......................................145
Selection of Principals....................................146
Categories of Transformational Leadership..................147
Across Case Study Analysis.................................149
Engages Followers (Teachers)............................150
Converts Followers (Teachers) Into Leaders..............155
Summary of the Case Studies................................156
Criteria for Connectedness to Occur........................158
Types of Connectedness.....................................160
Transferability to Other Schools and Organizations..161
Implications for Staff Development..................162
A. LEADERSHIP SURVEY......................................166
B. SELECTOR GRID..........................................167
C. GRAND TOUR INTERVIEW INTERVIEW #1....................168
D. PRINCIPAL INTERVIEW GUIDE INTERVIEW #2...............169
E. STRUCTURED INTERVIEW GUIDE.............................172
F. START LIST OF CODES....................................174
G. START LIST OF CODES WORKING DEFINTIONS...............175
Pascual "Pas" Louis LeDoux, Jr., 1945 1980,
my oldest brother who inspired me to be the very
best that I could be. There was no obstacle on earth
that Pas would not dare to challenge. Pas was my
mentor and my friend who always believed in my
potential as an educator. I owe much of my success
to the Maestas and LeDoux "can do" spirit that he
exemplified. Pas taught me to give unselfishly to
others and to dedicate my life to our family and to the
My deepest love and appreciation is extended to my family. My
husband, Rene Renteria, provided love, support, and
encouragement to me throughout the dissertation process. He
cared for our daughters when I was writing and researching this
thesis. I am thankful that he is a man of the 90's. His positive
support made this dissertation possible. Our young daughters,
Andrea and Alex, were sometimes patient and understanding yet
they could not quite understand why their mom was at the
computer rather than playing with them. They truly are my
inspiration and reason for dedicating countless hours working on
this thesis. I want them to know that they can do whatever they
put their mind and actions to, just like their mom.
My mother, Lucy Maestas LeDoux, and father, Pascual "A!"
LeDoux, were always near to encourage and support me. They, too,
took care of our daughters while I studied and worked on the
dissertation process. They should receive a degree for their
patience, for their support, and for their belief in my abilities as
a mother and as a doctoral student. I couldn't have completed this
without their love.
The LeDoux, Maestas, and Rentena families provided support
throughout the dissertation process. They were very
understanding when I did not attend family functions because of
my frenzy to complete this project. They also provided a helping
hand with my immediate family from time to time.
A special thank you goes to Michael Murphy and the
dissertation committee of Alan Davis, Steve Del Castillo, Rodney
Muth, and Nancy Sanders. Michael always believed in me and
pushed me along even when I did not think that I had the energy or
confidence to complete this project. He is a true scholar and
professional educator who understands the complexities and
importance of leadership in education. Michael helped me identify
James MacGregor Burns as the foundation for my research.
Steve Del Castillo led me to the works of the Multi-factor
Leadership Questionnaire by Bernard Bass. He provided valuable
resources and also helped me refine my thinking about leadership.
Steve was the catalyst for, encouraged, and expected rigorous
thinking and research about leadership theory. Alan Davis and
Nancy Sanders provided support with the research and
methodology. They extended critical and necessary guidance
throughout this process. Both of them are gifted qualitative
researchers and their expertise helped me through the maze of
qualitative methods and procedures. Rodney Muth created the
dialogue to critically analyze the content and the quality of this
dissertation. He was tireless and committed to providing me
with specific and valuable suggestions, resources, and references
for the in-depth study of leadership in education. I am grateful
for the attention and interest of my dissertation committee
I appreciate the cooperation and interest of the three
principals, the staff members, and parents in West Public Schools
who volunteered to participate in this study. The interviewees
were eager to share information and were so gracious with their
time. The principals were interested, helpful, and willing to
provide multiple interviews for this study. They are truly
transformational leaders who have dedicated their lives to
making a positive difference for teachers and kids in urban
Finally, I wish to thank my partner, colleague, and friend,
Armistead Webster, for the opportunity to link our dissertations.
Instead of a competitive process, we both chose to work with one
another for a cooperative experience. We were both very
interested in transformational leadership and decided early in the
thesis process to work collaboratively. I learned about the
importance of having a research partner who cared as much about
me as he did his thesis. I thank Armistead for his confidence in
my scholarship as well as putting up with my attention to detail
and concern about time lines. We both realized that we could not
have completed our dissertations without the ideas, support, and
encouragement from one another. The support from another
doctoral student proved to be valuable and fun.
The crisis of leadership today is the mediocrity or irresponsibility of so
many of the men and women in power, but leadership rarely rises to
the full need for it. The fundamental crisis underlying mediocrity is
intellectual. If we know all too much about our leaders, we know far
too little about leadership. We fail to grasp the essence of leadership
that is relevant to the modern age and hence we cannot agree even
on the standards by which to measure, recruit, and reject it. Is
leadership simply innovation cultural or political? Is it essentially
inspiration? Mobilization of followers? Goal setting? Goal
fulfillment? Is a leader the definer of values? Satisfier of needs? If
leaders require followers, who leads whom from where to where, and
why? How do leaders lead followers without being wholly led by
followers? Leadership is one of the most observed and least
understood phenomena on earth. (Burns, 1978, pp. 1, 2)
Substantial and unprecedented interest has been expressed in the
ability of public schools to educate students to meet the increasingly
complex demands of modern society. Both the Carnegie Forum on
Education and the Economy, and the National Governors Association have
recognized the need for the education system to continue to adapt to
changes in the broader social and economic environment (Cohen, 1988).
The need for continued education reform is rooted in three inescapable
realities. First, economic development is increasingly dependent upon well
educated and highly skilled workers. Second, the stability of our democracy 1
1 This chapter was written collaborativefy by Darlene LeDoux and Armistead Webster. This chapter is
almost identical in each thesis as the research was done as a team. Use of the first person plural
indicates that the research activities and research decisions were undertaken jointly.
requires schools and colleges to educate all students effectively. Third,
public education is a big business. "On the average, states invest
approximately thirty-seven percent of their annual budgets in education and
fund slightly more than fifty percent of the costs of elementary and secondary
education* (Cohen, 1988, p. 1). Revenue shortfalls are threatening school
districts throughout the country. Educators and policy makers are concerned
about the impact of fiscal austerity on education reform. Given these
uncertainties, it will be the optimists, the visionaries, and the risk takers who
"will be the leaders and shakers of this decade" (Pipho, 1991, p. 7).
If educational reform is to occur, principals must be dynamic leaders who
transform schools to meet the demands of our complex society. How does a
principal become the leader for change in this decade? With budgets
dwindling and the realities of the principal's time consumed by the needs of
others, a schedule to be developed and met, a budget election or budget
cuts, appraisals, community meetings, the political context, and always an
unexpected crisis. An average work week of a school administrator is
between 60 and 80 hours (Eubanks & Parish, 1987, p. 612).
Principals often feel trapped, caught between what they see as
increasing restrictions on their authority imposed by collective
bargaining agreements and decreasing support from central office
and school boards. Maintaining the routine operation of the school,
coping with daily crisis of major or minor proportions, and keeping up
with the flood of paperwork often leave little time or energy for being
the school's leader. (Wyant, 1980, p. ix)
The role and responsibilities of the elementary principal are becoming
more complex in today's field of education. Principals run "one of the most
highly regulated enterprises in the country. Federal, state and local
authorities are all piling on the rules and regulations ... to top it off,
everyone wants a better product" (Freadhoff, 1992, p. 1). The call for
education reform has become a battle cry from the state house, throughout
the community, to the school house. The majority of responsibilities for
leading reform fall on the shoulders of principals and teachers.
According to Fraser and Shoemaker (1981), several studies of schooling
suggest that school principals are instrumental in making a difference in
effective schooling. Effective leadership is a key to exceptional urban
schooling (Fraser & Shoemaker, 1981). In particular, the strongest evidence
related to school leadership indicates that the leaders must initiate, motivate
and support school improvement throughout the school (Fraser &
Shoemaker, 1981). Leaders of exceptional schools are enablers; they
enable teachers to concentrate on teaching and obtain political, parental,
and financial support (Rallis & Highsmith, 1986). With many audiences to
please, coupled with a growing list of responsibilities, "principals are
expected to be experts in public relations, mediation, child development,
curriculum theory, application of research, and the techniques of personnel
evaluation. That is a tall and questionable order for a mere mortal"
(Shanker, 1986, p.133). Lack of administrative leadership has been cited as
one of the root causes of the poor performance of public education.
According to Wyant, administrators are not prepared for their roles and are
not exercising their leadership functions effectively to achieve maximum
results. "Principals can and do become lost in the ever-changing
environment that characterizes education today" (Wyant, 1980, p. ix). Over
fifty percent of current principals of schools will have retired by the end of the
1990s (Sashkin, 1988).
The Principal as the Leader
Initially, schools were governed by a decentralized village pattern of
schooling and then moved to a bureaucratic organization in the late
Nineteenth Century (Tyack, 1974). Originally, a teacher was designated as
the head teacher, or principal teacher, and given the responsibility of
observing assistant teachers and reporting directly to the board of education.
As the size of schools increased, the duties of the principal teacher became
more administrative and less involved with classroom instruction. One
important duty of the principal became the supervision of other teachers in
the school. In the Twentieth Century, the bureaucratic organization of the
schools became more clearly defined as the professionalization of school
administration developed (Spring, 1986, p. 139).
Research has reaffirmed the importance of the leadership of the
principal. For years, studies have noted the pivotal role of the principal in
bringing about more effective schools (Nelson, Palonsky, & Carlson, 1990;
Finn, 1984; Boyer, 1984). Every school needs a leader who can rally
support for necessary change from the staff and community (Fullan & Miles,
1992). Leadership from the principal is instrumental in leading a school to
greatness (Boyer, 1984).
Although strong leadership is the glue needed to hold together the
separate elements in the school to make them work, many different types of
leadership have been noted (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985; Erikson, 1969;
Fiedler, 1967; Sergiovanni, 1990; Leithwood, 1992). For example,
instructional leadership has been the primary focus of the effective schools
research. Effective schools are characterized as having high achievement
and a clear sense of the needs of the school community. Invariably, it is the
principal who makes the difference in these areas (Boyer, 1984). According
to Finn (1984, p. 521), the leadership of the principal is critical, provided that
the principal minimizes the management aspects of the job and focuses on
the instructional leadership and mastery of school improvement. Leithwood
(1992, p. 9) notes that instructional leadership focuses administrators'
attention on "first order changes such as improving the technical and
instructional activities through close monitoring of teachers' and students'
classroom work. Principals also make important "second order changes
such as building a shared vision, improving communication, and developing
collaborative decision making processes. Second-order changes are
needed to realize first-order changes which lead to successful school
reform. According to Leithwood, transformational leadership (Burns, 1978;
Bass, 1985) brings about such second order changes.
What is the importance of leadership to an elementary principal? Reform
will be achieved through shared values, goals, and the commitment to
transform individual action into collective practice (Sergiovanni, 1992, p. 43).
Roberts (1985) explains:
The collective action that transforming leadership generates
empowers those who participate in the process. There is hope, there
is optimism, there is energy. In essence, transforming leadership is a l
leadership that facilitates the redefinition of a people's mission and
vision, a renewal of their commitment, and the restructuring of their
systems for goal accomplishment.
Sagor (1992) reported that principals who were transformational leaders
used the following building blocks of transformational leadership:
1. A clear and unified focus.
2. A common cultural perspective and,
3. A constant push for improvement.
Is instructional leadership sufficient for principals who want to lead
schools to excellence? Do principals need to use transformational
leadership to bring about school reform? How do principals who are
transformational leaders differ from those who are not? The jury is still out.
These questions beg answers. In order to address these questions, we must
first describe the context in which we conducted our research.
Transformational leadership was first described by James McGregor
Bums (1978). Transformational leadership incorporates many aspects of
other leadership theories. According to Bums (1978), the transformational
leader is one who fundamentally changes followers, even to the point that
they become the leaders. The leader is also transformed through the
relationship with followers. Ultimately both are raised to a higher "level of
human conduct and ethical aspiration" (Bums, 1978, p. 20).
Bass' (1985) initial studies found that transformational and transactional
leadership, an exchange between the leader and follower, are not opposite
ends of a continuum, which was how Burns commonly interpreted them.
They are complementary, according to Bass, and aspects of both are often
found in great leaders. Bass points out that both types of leaders use the
same variety of decision styles, such as directive, persuasive, consultative,
and so forth.
Burns (1978) showed that many of our greatest leaders (e.g., Roosevelt,
King, Gandhi) had been effective by exhorting their followers to look beyond
their self-interest to the good of the group. The classic statement of this
comes from Kennedy's inaugural speech: Ask not what you country can do
for you; ask what you can do for your country" (January 20, 1961).
Ultimately, such leaders transform their followers into leaders in their own
right. This is far more than having the power to make things happen, or
exercising brute force. Bums sees this style of leadership as distinct from
and better than transactional leadership in bringing about real intended
change" (1978, p.18)-- the measure of an effective leader.
The transformational leader is a developer of people, in addition to being
accomplished at achieving goals. This is exemplified by one of the great
transformational leaders of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What are the sources of fundamental change in our society? From
what spring will justice roll down like water?. . Martin Luther King, Jr.
in his "I Have a Dream" speech.. and in a hundred other sermons --
located that spring inside people: in their hearts, or souls, or whatever
the organ is called that can override selfish calculation.. His strategy
called for conversion if not of the policeman brandishing the club,
then at least of the bystanders watching on TV. At its root, the strategy,
a new one to this nation, involved an attempt to fundamentally alter
the moral anatomy of Americans. Far more than he wanted the Voting
Rights Act, far more than he wanted the freedom to eat at dime store
lunch counters, far more than he wanted black elected officials, King
wanted the change of heart in individual Americans which would
make those political developments possible. (The Talk of the Town,
1983, p. 12)
The transformational leader does not merely recognize current needs
and find ways for followers to meet them. She or he seeks to engage
followers fully and looks for potential in them. The leader works with the
follower to elevate that potential and realize it. This is done in the context of
making conscious choice among real alternatives" (Burns, 1978, p. 36).
The leader has goals in mind and is constantly seeking to reach them.
However, the method for reaching goals is decidedly different from that of
a transactional leader. Transactional leadership relies upon an exchange
between the leader and follower. According to Burns (1978), transactional
leaders "approach followers with an eye to exchanging one thing for
another: jobs for votes, or subsidies for campaign contributions. Such
transactions comprise the bulk of the relationships among leaders and
followers, especially in groups, legislatures, and parties" (p. 3).
Bass (1985, p. 11) expanded the definition of transactional leader to all
supervisory-subordinate relationships. He describes the transactional
leader's relationship with subordinates as follows:
1. Recognizes what it is we want to get from our work and tries to see
that we get what we want if our performance warrants it.
2. Exchanges rewards and promises of reward for our effort.
3. Is responsive to our immediate self-interests if they can be met by our
getting the work done.
The result is that followers of a transformational leader will be different
people over time than if they had not been part of that relationship. The
followers of a transactional leader will be the same people in different
circumstances. The latter has changed the degree of an already existing
circumstance; the former has changed the quality of the circumstances
The Connectedness Between Leader and Follower
The most powerful influences between people consist of deeply human
relationships in which two or more persons engage with one another.
Leadership, unlike naked power-wielding, is thus inseparable from
followers' needs and goals" (Burns, 1978, p.11).
The essence of the leader-follower relation is the interaction of persons
with different levels of motivations and of power potential, including skill, in
pursuit of a common or at least joint purpose" (p.19). Leadership as defined
by Burns is leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent
the values and the motivations-the wants and needs, the aspirations and
expectations--of both leaders and followers (p.19). Leaders take the
initiative in making connections with their followers (p. 38). Connections are
the interactive effects that leaders have on followers and that followers have
on leaders. Bums emphasized that the genius of leadership is the manner
in which leaders see and act on their own and their followers' values and
Burns noted that the most serious failure in the study of leadership has
been the bifurcation between the literature on leadership and followership.
He noted that the traditional leadership approach has been elitist in the
sense that the leader is portrayed as a hero and the follower is seen in a
populist or anti-elitist approach in which followers are seen as powerless
masses. He described his view of leadership as "no mere game among
elitists and no mere populist response but as a structure of action that
engages persons, to varying degrees, throughout the levels and among the
interstices of society" (p. 3).
According to Burns (1978, p. 4), leadership is distinct from mere power-
holding and is the opposite of brute power." This distinction is critical to this
study because transformational leadership results in a relationship between
people which offers mutual stimulation and an elevation to a broader vision.
In fact, this relationship is unique and so stimulating that it may convert
followers into leaders.
Sergiovanni (1990) described how the traditional chain of command in a
hierarchical authority is leaders, then followers. In a value-added chain of
command as identified by Sergiovanni, moral authority, ideas, values, and
commitments are shared by both leaders and followers. Followers can also
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine how elementary principals who
have been identified as transformational leaders connect with teachers. The
intent is to examine how transformational leaders work with others on a daily
basis. How do they interact and connect with teachers?
Scope of the Study
Very little direct study of transformational leadership has been done in
schools (Leithwood, 1993), and none related to connectedness. This
exploratory, multiple-case study provides a richer insight into the thinking
and practice of elementary principals who are transformational leaders.
The selection process will identify principals who are transformational
leaders. The study is neither an attempt to define transformational
leadership nor to document the outcomes that transformational leaders
create in their schools. The intent is to examine how transformational
leaders work with others on a daily basis in their schools. This is an in-depth
study of three elementary principals who have been identified as
Summary of Methods
This study focused on the thinking and behavior of elementary principals
in a public school system that we have named West Public Schools, during
the tumultuous 1991-1992 school year. Exploratory case studies of three
elementary principals who demonstrated qualities of transformational
leadership were developed on the basis of interviews with the principals and
selected teachers, staff members, and parents. The principals were
interviewed in depth to determine how they use connectedness. Teachers,
parents and other staff members were interviewed to corroborate the
information learned from the principals and the others involved in each case
study. The data analysis principles of Miles and Huberman (1984, p. 57)
were used to organize and analyze the information gained from the
interviews. Then open and axial coding techniques and procedures were
used as described by Strauss and Corbin (1990, pp. 61, 96).
Collaborative and Creative Nature of This Research
This study was done in collaboration and partnership with Armistead
Webster. We worked together from the beginning discussions of possible
research topics through the development of the prospectus and the
collection of the data. Each of us collected the data in its entirety for one
case and we shared the data collection responsibilities in the third case. All
data collected from the three cases were shared, initial coding was done
jointly. Subsequent coding and analysis were done independently and then
shared with one another.
Several sections of the thesis were authored jointly. These include the
majority of Chapter 1 and significant sections of Chapters 2 and 3. Each of
us examined a distinct aspect of transformational leadership. I chose
Connectedness and Armistead worked on Intellectual Capital. Chapters 4, 5,
6, 7, and 8 were written independently.
Structure of the Thesis
Chapter 1 of this thesis introduces the problem and provides the
background for the study. Chapter 2 gives an overview of the literature
related to transformational leadership and connectedness. Chapter 3
reports on the methodology used for this research. Each case study is
presented separately in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Chapter 7 analyzes the
findings across all three case studies. Chapter 8 summarizes the findings
and presents implications for future study.
REVIEW OF SELECTED LITERATURE1
Leaders have existed from the first time that people gathered in groups.
The earliest written records tell of leaders and their importance to human
society. Egyptian hieroglyphics from 4,500 years ago have symbols for
leader." Chinese history documents the names and deeds of leaders as far
back as the 6th Century B.C. The Greeks outlined the important attributes of
leaders as seen in The Iliad. Various heroes displayed leadership qualities
such as justice, judgment, wisdom, counsel, shrewdness and cunning
(Sarachek, 1968). According to the Oxford English Dictionary (19891
"leader" was first used about 1300, but the word "leadership" did not appear
in the English language until the first half of the 19th Century. The context
for its use was the governance of the British Parliament. Research on
leadership began in earnest in the early part of this century and has
blossomed since WW II.
Theories of Leadership
Numerous theoretical definitions of leadership have emerged in the 20th
Century. Following are some of the most important of these as presented in
Bass and Stoadill's Handbook of Leadership (Bass, 1990). These general
1 This chapter was written collaboratively by Darlene LeDoux and Armistead Webster. This chapter is
almost identical in each thesis as the research was done as a team. Use of the first person plural
indicates that the research activities and research decision were undertaken jointly.
theories apply to leadership in schools as well as to other public and private
Through the 1940s the dominant leadership theories were those which
espoused the "Great Man" concept. This theory held that individual men
(and presumably women) were endowed with unique characteristics which
allowed them to influence their fellows and chart the course of history. This
point of view is put forth succinctly by Jennings (1960, p. 1) who begins his
book by stating that, "Great changes in the history of an organization or
society generally result from the innovative efforts of a few superior
The Great Man" concept became intertwined with trait theories of
leadership. This line of research attempted to identify specific characteristics
of great men. For example, Bird (1940) identified 79 traits of leaders when
he reviewed 20 studies. Most frequently mentioned were high intelligence,
initiative, a sense of humor, and extroversion.
In 1948, Stogdill added a new element to how we think about leadership.
His critique of trait theories concluded that not only the individual but also
the situation had to be included in explaining the emergence of leadership.
Effective leaders did not merely appear according to some internal clock, but
developed in relationship to particular circumstances and situations. Since
then, it has been generally accepted that any leadership theory has to take
into account the situation, the individual, and the interaction between them.
The relationship among these factors has been addressed by various
researchers over the past three decades.
Blake and Mouton (1964) developed a theory of leadership which
addressed this by rating leaders in terms of their concern for people and
concern for production. Leaders who rated high on both scales engendered
feelings of commitment to the work and interdependence based on a
common stake in the organization among their followers. This approach
includes a humanistic attention to individuals which is lacking in Great Man
Maslow (1965) was also concerned with the human being in
organizations. He applied his hierarchy of human needs to observations of
workers. He felt it was important for leaders to help all workers satisfy their
need for self-actualization and become whatever they had the capacity to
McGregor's (1966) Theory Y related to Maslow's self-actualization theory
in that it assumed people were motivated and wished to do well. Based on
this view of human nature, an effective leader would try to structure the
organization so that people could recognize and fulfill their needs as well as
help the organization achieve its goals. This contrasts with McGregor's
Theory X which assumes that people are passive and need direction and
motivation from superiors.
Other studies have also pointed to the importance of the relationship
between the leader and the rest of the group. Fiedler's (1967) contingency
theory looks at the leader as being predominantly task-oriented or relations-
oriented. He believes leaders are more or less effective depending upon
the conditions in a given situation. Leaders need to know what situations
they are most effective in or they should be selected to match the particular
situation. Ideally, leaders will be well matched to the situations they find
themselves in. If not, the leader can try to change the structure of the task or
other aspects of the situation rather than their leadership personality.
The evolution of leadership theories points to the importance of the
relationship between the leader and followers. The humanistic approaches
focus on the value of helping followers develop their potential. We see an
increasing emphasis on the importance of matching leaders to the given
situation. An understanding that the leader has something to offer followers
is also an important aspect of humanistic approaches to leadership.
The interrelationship between leader and follower was further refined by
Hersey and Blanchard (1969). They developed a situational leadership
model based on Fiedler (1967), Blake and Mouton (1964), and others. They
used the terms consideration and task structure, equivalent to Blake and
Mouton's concern for people and concern for production. However, they
added the concept that the leaders role changes as the subordinate group
or individual matures depending upon the situation. Initially, the leader
shows a high focus on task structuring and low focus on consideration. As
the group moves from an immature to a mature group, leadership behavior
in the situational leadership model is summarized as telling, selling,
participating, and delegating. Ultimately, as the subordinates mature and
gain more experiences, the leader shows less consideration and less task
structuring. The mature and experienced group or individual then takes over
what had been leadership roles. Situational leadership is task driven and
focuses on behavior.
House's (1971) path goal theory describes the leader's role as being one
of clarifying goals for followers and then helping them identify paths to reach
those goals. Exchange theories look upon the interaction between leader
and follower as a type of exchange (Blau, 1964). The leader provides
valuable services to the group in return for the compliance and support of
their followers. Increasingly the leader is seen as a member of the group
who plays a particular role in specific situations.
The various theories outlined above share a view of the relationship
between leader and led which involves some kind of exchange. Rewards,
status, or satisfaction of psychic needs are granted the follower in return for
his work and his support of the leader. Even the most humanistic views of
leadership are based upon exchange. The leader helps the follower identify
and satisfy higher level needs such as self-actualization (Masiow, 1965) or
fulfillment (McGregor, 1966). In return the follower performs satisfactorily
and thus helps the organization achieve its goals. Another term for this type
of leadership is transactional (Hollander, 1986).
Transactional practices may be central in maintaining the day-to-day
routines on behalf of the organization (Leithwood, 1992). Transactional
approaches lead to short-lived relationships because the people involved in
the transaction cannot repeat the identical exchange; both must move on to
new types of gratification. There is also little or no attention to shared
values. This transactional view overlooks an important aspect of leadership.
Burns (1978) is the father of the concept of transformational leadership. The
next section will show how his work as developed by Bass, Leithwood,
Sergiovanni and others forms the basis of our research.
Bums (1978) offered a more encompassing perspective when he noted
that some leadership is due to an exchange or transaction based on
promises of reward to the followers (or avoidance of penalties) for
compliance with the leader's proposals. Superior leadership performance,
transformational leadership, is seen when leaders broaden and elevate the
interests of their followers, when they generate awareness and acceptance
among the followers of the purposes and mission of the group, and when
they move their followers to transcend their own self-interest for the good of
the group (Bass & Seltzer, 1990, p. 693).
As noted in Chapter 1, Bums (1978) was the seminal force in developing
the theory of transformational leadership. His book, Leadership, combines
biography, history, and politics and is now an essential reference for any
study of leadership. He developed his theory from the point of view of a
political scientist and historian. He documented transformational leadership
by examining and highlighting some of the great political leaders of this
century-Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Roosevelt, Mao
Tse-Tung, and others.
In the lives of these great leaders, Burns (1978) found what he believed
to be the distinguishing characteristics of transforming leadership. Chief
among these characteristics were the relation between the leader and
follower which results in the followers becoming different people over time
because of the leader's influence. Not only are the followers' actions and
behaviors different, as a result of this relationship but their hearts and minds
have changed. Burns (1978) believes that moral values are essential to
leadership and to the leader follower relationship.
Transforming leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the
level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both leader and led,
and thus it has a transforming effect on both. Perhaps the best
modern example is Gandhi, who aroused and elevated the hopes
and demands of millions of Indians and whose life and personality
were enhanced in the process, (p. 20)
Transformational leadership incorporates many aspects of other
leadership theories. It is humanistic in its emphasis upon the needs of the
follower and the relation between follower and leader. It acknowledges the
contingency aspect of leadership, and moves far beyond "Great Man"
theories of causation. The crucial difference lies in the conceptualization of
a leader as one who fundamentally changes followers, even to the point that
they become the leaders. The leader is also transformed through his
relationship with followers. Ultimately, both are raised to a higher level of
human conduct and ethical aspiration" (Burns, 1978, p. 20).
Burns (1978) noted the measure of effective leadership is the degree to
which "intended 'real change' (p. 19) is achieved. For Burns (1978) the
goals aspired to must represent "the values and the motivations ... of both
leaders and followers? (p. 19). While both transactional and transformational
leaders may bring about this type of change, Bums (1978) sees the former
as being less desirable.
Transforming leadership, while more complex, is more potent [than
transactional leadership]. The transforming leader recognizes and
exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower. But,
beyond that, the transforming leader looks for potential motives in
followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person
of the follower. The result of transforming leadership is a relationship
of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into
leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents, (p. 4)
Bums (1978) presented transactional and transformational leadership as
being mutually exclusive. Bass (1985) held a different point of view on the
relationship between transformational and transactional leadership. He also
refined and operationalized the concept of transformational leadership.
Research on Transformational Leadership
Research on transformational leadership is relatively scarce. More
theoretical applications of transformational leadership have been reported.
Bums' (1978) discussion of transformational leadership was based on the
lives of great historical figures. He did no empirical research to support his
theory of how these leaders used transformational leadership. Bass (1985)
took the theory and operationalized it through a series of studies.
Bass began with a pilot study of "70 male senior industrial executives,"
(Bass, 1985). This reinforced the concepts Bass had about transformational
leadership, but did not provide hard data about how transformational
Bass next used graduate students in an MBA program to identify
behaviors of transformational and transactional leaders. Using these
results, as well as the information from the pilot study, Bass developed a
questionnaire with 73 descriptors of leadership behavior and its effect upon
Bass administered this questionnaire to 104 students at the Army War
College. The sample was over 98% male and more than 95% of the
respondents were U.S. Army officers. When a factor analysis of the data
was done, 7 factors emerged. Subsequently, 72 more senior military officers
were given the same survey. When their responses were included with the
initial group two of these factors dropped out, leaving five factors.
Three of these factors were associated with transformational leadership.
They were Charismatic Leadership (Factor I); Individualized Consideration
(Factor III); and Intellectual Stimulation (Factor V). Two factors were
associated with transactional leadership. They were Contingent Reward
(Factor II); and Management-by-Exception (Factor IV).
Further studies reinforced these findings. The questionnaire used above
had now been refined into the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ)
(Bass & Avolio, 1990b). The MLQ was applied to the biographies of 67 great
leaders. The MLQ was administered to 45 professionals and managers in
New Zealand. Sixty-four percent of this sample were male and thirty-six
percent were female.
Also in New Zealand, 23 educational administrators were given a
modified version of the questionnaire. Another shortened version of the
MLQ was administered to 256 supervisors and managers of a Fortune 500
company. The data from these studies were used to validate the factors
Bass had identified. A summary of his findings follows:
1. five factors are required to understand transactional and
2. it is possible to measure each of these factors with high reliability so
that widely differing profiles can be obtained from questionnaire
descriptions of individual leaders;
3. respondents describing the same leaders will produce similar
4. as proposed in this model, transformational leadership will contribute
in an incremental way to extra effort, effectiveness, and satisfaction
with the leader as well as to appraised subordinate performance
beyond expectations that are attributable to transactional leadership,
Bass and Avolio (1990b) developed and tested a leadership
questionnaire for leaders and followers, the Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire (MLQ). This instrument is used to measure to what degree
leaders exhibit the aforementioned factors. It also provides summary scales
showing the degree to which the leader exhibits transformational,
transactional and/or laissez-faire styles.
Through his ongoing work in the field of leadership, Bass (1985) has
operationalized the concepts of transformational leadership. He has
theorized that a leader may effectively use both transformational and
transactional leadership. He does not see them as mutually exclusive.
Students of leadership must be conversant with Bass' work in this
field because of his continuing development and additions to knowledge
and information about transformational leadership. Following is a
discussion of how transformational leadership has been used by some
authors and researchers to gain deeper insights into the study of leadership
Since 1990, Leithwood (1993) has been studying transformational
leadership in schools. According to Leithwood (1993), there are two related
but distinct meanings of transformational leadership," 1) A "generic"
meaning to describe leadership which promotes change in the behaviors
and motivation of followers and, 2) the "technical" meaning which
encompasses the work of Bums (1978), Bass (1985), and others (p. 3). The
latter meaning is the one most relevant to this thesis.
Leithwood (1993) feels that transformational leadership in schools must
be regarded as a whole cloth" (p. 36) to have a substantial effect. The
transformational leader must use the transformational factors identified by
Bass as well as several other "dimensions" identified by Leithwood. These
are "identifies and articulates a vision, fosters the acceptance of group goals,
conveys high performance expectations, and provides appropriate models"
In contrast, Burns (1978) noted that transactional and transformational
leadership were are opposite ends of a continuum. Bass (1985), believed
the two complemented each other, and Leithwood, (1993) asserted we
[should] no longer distinguish leadership dimensions as transformational or
transactional- (p. 23). His research found contingent reward to be a
potentially transformational dimension of leadership and not a transactional
dimension. He also found no evidence to believe that management-by-
exception had positive effects. This contradicts Bass' theory that these
factors were exclusively transactional and could be used by leaders in
conjunction with transformational factors to achieve desired goals.
Leithwood is one of the leading researchers in the study of
transformational leadership as it relates to schools. He notes that this is a
new field of study. "We have been able to identify only twenty-seven
empirical and case studies, other than our own, to date, even using a
relatively liberal definition of transformational leadership" (Leithwood, 1994,
p. 21). He recommends that future research in this field "should emphasize
grounded methods. We still have only the most rudimentary understanding
of those overt leadership practices which are transformational in school
settings" (p. 22).
A leading scholar in education, Sergiovanni (1990) wrote about value-
added leadership, which is similar to transformational leadership. Value-
added leadership combines the traditional and the recent theories of
leadership to create a new model. "Value-added [leadership] provides the
bridge between helping teachers and students meet basic expectations and
achieving levels of performance and commitment that are extraordinary" (p.
5). The similarity of Sergiovanni (1990) and Burns (1978) is apparent in the
emphasis on the moral aspect of leadership and the elevation of followers
and leaders. "Value-added leadership works not only because it can move
the hand but because it is responsive to the mind and heart" (p. 53).
This portion of the chapter describes how individualized consideration
relates to connectedness which transforms people and relationships.
Often, a leader individualizes her or his relationships to avoid treating all
subordinates alike (Meyer, 1980). The leader can also discriminate
between the more competent and less competent members in the group
(Fiedler, 1964). If a leader shows more closeness with those members who
form an inner subgroup..., the inner circle accepts more responsibilities and
obtains more assistance from the leader. There is greater mutual support,
sensitivity, and trust between the leader and her inner circle" (Bass, 1985, p.
94). Differential treatment for some subordinates may create a problem for
everyone involved. The people on the inner circle may feel guilty because
of their relationship with the leader. They may be in danger of tarnishing
their reputation if the leader fails or could become bitter because more work
is expected of them. Whereas the people in the outer circle may feel left out,
feel less of a commitment, disengage themselves from the leader and
experience a sense of a loss of a leaders affection. Sometimes this
discrimination causes the group to establish barriers as they become
polarized and, as a result, communication, cooperation, and support are
negatively impacted (Bass, 1985).
As leaders demonstrate individuation, they must show that they care
about each and every one of their subordinates. Leaders can provide
individualized attention according to the needs of each subordinate, thereby
demonstrating individuation and steering away from the polarization and
negative impact that can occur if an inner group of subordinates receives the
leaders attention and consideration.
The term individuation in this research is not to be confused with the
psychological state of individuation. The psychological term individuation is
"characterized by a conscious dialectic relationship between ego and Self
[sic]" (Edinger, 1974, p. 7). Individuation in this study is defined as the
attention individuals receive from the leader via "one to one contact and two-
way communication" (Bass, 1985, p. 97).
The satisfaction of group members is enhanced when leaders show that
they care by demonstrating their consideration for individual subordinates
(Fleishman, 1951). Leaders do this by helping, sharing, supporting, being
considerate, sacrificing their own interests, dedicating time and energy for
the good of the group, the organization or for individuals involved (Brief &
Motowildo, 1986). Leaders serve as role models willing to sacrifice their
own personal time and show their commitment to the organization or
individuals as they ignore hardships they may experience (Smith, Organ, &
According to Bass, (1990, p. 511) consideration describes the extent to
which a leader exhibits concern for the welfare of the other members of the
group." The considerate leader acknowledges a job well done, makes sure
subordinates are satisfied with their jobs, treats subordinates as equals,
makes a special effort to help subordinates feel at ease, is easy to approach,
listens to, and communicates effectively with subordinates (Bass, 1990).
This action of the leader creates an atmosphere of mutual trust, builds
relationships and establishes friendships between the subordinates and the
leader (Atwater, 1988). Greene and Schriesheim (1977) reported in a
longitudinal study that more consideration, early on, by the leader
contributes to good group relations, which in turn, may result, later on, in
higher productivity by the group. Whereas inconsiderate leaders may create
an atmosphere of competition, not cooperation; lack of trust; lack of
consideration for others; and disloyalty to the leader and/or the organization
(Atwater & White, 1985).
Individualized consideration is a combination of individuation and
consideration. The definition of individualized consideration is the
developmental and individualistic orientation that leaders maintain toward
subordinates (Bass, 1985). A leader who demonstrates individualized
consideration shows subordinates that he/she cares about each and every
one of them. Each subordinate is treated as an individual who is special
and has different needs from the other group members. The leader is
careful not to shower the same group member with care and concern. The
support is provided by the leader to those who need it as it is needed. Harry
Truman was a strong example of a leader who demonstrated individualized
consideration with his subordinates (Bass, 1985, p. 84).
President Truman didn't believe in the single chief of staff system. He
had six principal advisers, with whom he met every morning for up to
an hour, had a little bourbon and branch water with one of them in the
Oval Office to sum up the day, and then took a bundle of papers
upstairs, put on his green eye shade and read and studied reports
until late in the night. (Reston, 1983)
Individualized consideration is integral to the leader-member exchange.
This process occurs when a supervisor consults with each of her/his
subordinates individually. Another example of this is when each
subordinate is asked to discuss concerns and expectations about his/her
own job and then is asked to discuss his/her superior's job and their working
relationship. The leader then does the same. Reciprocal understanding is
improved between the superior and the subordinate (Graen, Novak, &
Individualized consideration is paramount to a healthy and positive
working relationship between leaders and subordinates. Subordinates can
be challenged by their leaders to improve and still be supported and
encouraged by them to stretch professionally knowing that the leader will
provide a safety net for any falls.
Superiors can critique subordinate reports to help improve their
writing and their oral presentations. They can advise subordinates
about new programs and invite subordinates to accompany them on
visits to plants and clients. Subordinates can be sent to meetings or
assigned to critique reports as a substitute for the superior. Outside
interests can be discussed. . transformational leadership involves
individualized attention and a developmental or mentoring orientation
toward subordinates. Transformational leaders practice delegation
consistent with their judgments of their individual subordinates,
current levels of competence and need for growth opportunities.
(Bass, 1985, p. 82)
The individualized consideration shown by the leader to the subordinate
provides opportunities for growth, makes her or him feel appreciated and
establishes trust in the relationship. The following will show what leaders do
to connect with subordinates.
Bums (1978) and Sergiovanni (1990) use the term follower instead of
subordinate. Subordinates respond to authority but followers respond to
ideas" (Sergiovanni, 1990, p. 153). I will move from use of the word,
subordinate, to the word, follower, because follower denotes someone who
is making a decision for her/himself whereas subordinate, oftentimes, means
that the person does something not because they want to but because a
person of authority or power asks or makes them do it.
Bums (1978) sees the connectedness between leader and follower as
essential to transformational leadership. Although Burns does not define the
word "connectedness" he uses the term "connections" to describe the
following critical linkages between leaders and followers:
- shared values and aspirations
- collective purpose
- satisfaction of human needs (a focus on the needs of
both followers and leaders)
- joint expectations, and
The mutual stimulation and the engagement between leaders and
followers is so strong that it has the potential to convert followers into
leaders. For example, Bums (1978) indicated that Mahatma Gandhi
demonstrated this "connection" with his followers. He put his disciples to
work, giving direction in their capacity to care, and multiplying miraculously
both their practical gifts and their sense of participation" (Erikson, 1969). In
essence, Gandhi created followers who were also leaders. Although
Gandhi was imprisoned, he had already established a "connection" with his
followers that was so powerful that many followers had become leaders and
continued to struggle for the grass roots efforts that Gandhi had initially lead
Connections are made by the leader with the follower when the leader
shows individualized consideration and receives a response in return. It is
precisely these connections that a transformational leader will make to
indicate her/his care, concern, and actions for the follower. When the
connections are present, the potential for creating a new cadre of leaders is
great (Burns, 1978).
Clearly the leader who commands compelling causes has an
extraordinary influence over followers. Followers armed by moral
inspiration, mobilized and purposeful, become zealots and leaders in
their own right. (Burns, 1978, p. 34)
Only a handful of studies in education settings exist which relate to
transformational leadership (Leithwood, 1992). Fewer studies of
transformational leadership and individualized consideration have surfaced
(Leithwood, 1993). The need to study the leadership of elementary
principals in a public school setting is instrumental in understanding the role
of transformational leadership and connectedness.
Based on the research of Bass (1985, 1990) and Bums (1978), the
following categories of connections that principals make with teachers have
Engages followers: Keeps in touch, attracts, takes initiative and connects
with followers, fully informs others, has two-way conversations, identifies
followers' needs, meets and acts upon those needs.
Collective purpose: Builds a team with a common or joint purpose,
leader and follower share passions, goals, objectives, or mission, pursuit of
a common or joint purpose, the mission or task at hand excites both follower
and leader, beliefs are shared, leaders needs are met by followers interests,
actions, mission or needs, trust is developed by the confidence established,
and followers feel secure and supported by the leader.
Converts followers into leaders: Leader mentors, actively, willingly, or
purposefully convert followers into leaders, transfers responsibility,
encourages a variety of learning experiences, and provides constructive
feedback (Burns, 1978).
These "connections" were based upon the research of Burns (1978) as
operationalized by Bass (1985) who developed categories of
transformational leadership. The remainder of this chapter highlights how
the use of individualized consideration helps develop a bond, a "connection"
with followers (Burns, 1978), according to transformational leadership as
noted by Bass (1985).
Principals make three major connections with teachers. They engage
followers, build teams with a common or joint purpose, and convert followers
into leaders. Following is more information about each major connection.
Engages followers" is a connection that establishes the rapport between
the leader and the follower. Leaders keep in touch with followers by being
visible, conversing with followers, getting to know their needs and then by
helping followers individually when they have particular needs. A leader
who demonstrates connectedness to the follower, gets to know them as a
person and as a professional and then helps as needed. All of these actions
are necessary for a leader to be connected to the follower.
As cited by Bass (1985), Zaleznik (1977) reported that personal influence
and the one-to-one, superior-subordinate relationship were of prime
importance to the development of leaders. Business leaders suggest that
leaders should be involved in all levels of the business operation. The best
way to do that is by maintaining face-to-face contact with others (Peters,
1980). The leader is able to see for her/himself what needs to be done for
the followers. The followers see that the leader is interested in them and
their work, thus creating a common understanding for their work together.
Collective purpose describes the connection when the leader builds a
team with a common or joint purpose. The leader and follower share
passions about the goals, objectives and/or the mission to be accomplished.
They voluntarily work together because the mission and/or task excites both
the leader and the follower. This connection occurs when one or more
persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise
one another to higher levels of motivation and morality" (Bums, 1978, p. 20).
They share beliefs and feel that the mission is intrinsically valuable or
desirable. Trust is developed as the leader and the follower rely on, depend
on, and have confidence in one another. Followers feel secure and
supported by the leader. Also, the leaders needs are met by the followers
interests and actions. The leader must feel that her/his needs are met, too
for this reciprocal relationship to occur. Leaders address themselves to
followers' wants, needs and other motivations, as well as to their own, and
thus they serve as an independent force in changing the makeup of the
followers' motive base through gratifying their motives" (Burns, 1978, p. 20).
When people work together for a common or joint purpose, more
ownership is created which leads to more of an individual and group
commitment. Basic participation does not equal performance investment.
When teachers and principals make the participation investment they meet
minimum contractual requirements-they give a fair day's work for a fair day's
pay. Greatness has always been the result of employees and employers
exceeding the limits of this relationship" (Sergiovanni, 1990, p. 18).
Exceeding the relationship of a fair day's work occurs when leaders connect
with their followers by building a team, sharing their passions, developing
trust and by having their needs understood and met.
Leaders connect with followers by mentoring them and by purposefully
converting followers into leaders. Leaders encourage a variety of learning
experiences, transfer responsibility, and provide constructive feedback.
When this occurs, followers feel that the leader cares about them because
the leader invests in the followers professional growth. Bass (1985) found
that transformational leadership involves individualized attention and a
developmental or mentoring orientation toward followers.
According to Sergiovanni (1990), leaders can invest in followers by
leadership building. This concept provides the climate and interpersonal
support that enhances the followers opportunities for fulfillment of needs for
achievement, responsibility, competence, and esteem.
Leithwood (1993) noted that two types of changes, first and second order
changes are needed to improve schools. First order changes focus on
changes in core technology and forms of instruction likely to pay off for
students. Second order changes are essential to the first order changes.
Second order changes occur when a leader is "sensitive to organization
building: developing a shared vision, creating productive work cultures,
distributing leadership to others and the like" (Leithwood, 1993, p. 8).
According to Leithwood (1993), "the base of leadership in schools, may not
be transactional leadership, but individual consideration. By itself,
individualized consideration is unlikely to produce much change." Trust,
loyalty, and sense of affiliation produced by the leader's considerate
leadership are necessary. If these are not present, "the effects of other
aspects of transformational initiatives are likely to be substantially blunted*
(Leithwood, 1993, p. 37).
Individualized consideration is key to the positive relationship between
leaders and followers. The connections that leaders make with followers are
determined by how and when leaders connect with followers.
Transformational leaders show individualized consideration and connect
with their followers. Connectedness is not a simple interaction or one
opportunity for a follower to grow professionally. Leaders who are
transformational use connectedness throughout their interactions with
followers. Transformational leaders connect with followers all of the time.
Being congenial alone does not mean that a leader is transformational. A
transformational leader shares common work values with the follower,
engages followers in specific conversations about work, and supports the
followers with whom he/she works (Sergiovanni, 1990). Building this type of
atmosphere is continuous work which is meaningful to both the leader and
the follower. The leader does this because he/she wants to, not because
someone asks or directs him/her to do it. He/she also receives satisfaction
during this connection with followers. When the connection is made
between the leader and the follower, a two-way process, connectedness
We selected a case study approach to address the research questions
we posed. Yin's (1989) three conditions for selecting a research strategy
supported our decision to use the case study method. "The three conditions
consist of (a) the type of research questions posed, (b) the extent of control
an investigator has over actual behavioral events, and (c) the degree of
focus on contemporary as opposed to historical events" (p. 16). Our
research questions were in the "how?" form. We wanted to discover how
these principals who are transformational leaders used intellectual capital
and connectedness. We had no control over actual behaviors, and we were
focusing on contemporary evehts. We employed a qualitative approach to
data collection and reporting as we explored the complex issue of
According to Yin (1989), "the distinctive need for case studies arises out
of the desire to understand complex social phenomena. In brief, the case
study allows an investigation to retain the holistic and meaningful
characteristics of real-life events..." (p.14).
1 This chapter was written collaboratively by Dariene LeDoux and Armistead Webster. This chapter is
almost identical in each thesis as the research was done as a team. Use of the first person plural
indicates that the research activities and research decisions were undertaken jointly.
Yin's (1989, p.23) definition of a case study matches the context of our
A case study is an empirical inquiry that:
investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context;
the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly
evident; and in which
multiple sources of evidence are used.
The rest of this chapter describes the setting in which the research
occurred. All three principals studied work in West Public Schools (WPS).
We provided information about the school district and its recent history. We
then presented the process through which we selected the three principals
whom we studied. Following this section, we show how we collected the
data primarily through interviews and also through observations. We end
the chapter with sections describing the coding process and the analysis of
the data that we collected.
Setting: West Public Schools
Following is a brief sketch of the school district in which the three case
studies were conducted. West Public Schools (WPS) is a large urban
school district located in the Rocky Mountain Region. Approximately 60,000
students from early childhood education to twelfth grade attend school in the
district. A large Hispanic student population and a wide variety of students
from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds make up the student body.
Like many large urban school districts throughout the country, WPS has had
numerous superintendents in recent years. The current superintendent is
the third to occupy that post since 1989 and the district has recently hired a
new superintendent. WPS is battling with integrating the school system,
improving student achievement, gaining public confidence in the schools,
organizational restructuring, and labor unrest.
Several years ago, WPS experienced intense teacher unrest over
contract negotiations, which were deadlocked. The teachers' association
threatened to strike the first day after winter break. At this point, the governor
The governor invoked a seldom-used law which had been designed to
resolve labor disputes before they became violent. He forbade a strike and
took over the negotiation process. The governor held hearings and
meetings for three months, then presented the Board of Education and the
teachers' association with a new contract. They both accepted this contract,
and a new governance structure was created for West Public Schools.
The centerpiece of the contract was the establishment of a Joint
Governing Team (JGT) at each school. Each JGT consists of the principal,
four elected teacher representatives, three elected parent representatives,
one elected classified employee representative, and one business
representative. High schools also have two elected student representatives
with full membership. At the middle-school level, the students on the
committee have no decision-making authority.
The contract stipulates that all JGT decisions are to be made by
consensus. Consensus is defined as agreement of all members with the
decision, or at least agreement not to block the implementation of the
decision. The JGT has authority over many areas of school operations. If
consensus can not be reached on a given issue, the principal may make a
decision unilaterally. Other members may not appeal the result of this
decision, but may appeal the process to an area board.
As a result of the new contract, principals are working with a very different
governance structure at the building level. The previous contract was much
longer and more restrictive in many ways. It covered in detail many specific
situations which a principal might face. However, it was up to each principal
to decide how to arrive at decisions. Under the new contract, greater latitude
exists for decision-making at the building level. The principal must now
make decisions in conjunction with the JGT.
Additionally, the new contract is ambiguous in many respects. Terms are
not defined, exact decision-making authority is often unclear, and much
room is left for interpretation. Both the central administration and the
teachers' association provide principals with their points of view about how
to interpret the contract. Ultimately, each principal must decide whose lead
to follow and how to properly meet the terms of the contract.
The focus of this study is on the principals of WPS because the changes
described above created a situation in which one might expect to find
transformational leaders exercising the full range of their abilities. Both Bass
(1985) and Burns (1978) point out that transformational leaders flourish in
circumstances which include change and conflict. "The sharper the conflict,
the greater the role of leaders will tend to be" (Bums, 1978, p. 429). Sharp
conflict has clearly been present in WPS for many years and especially
since the bitter contract negotiations several years ago.
After one full year with the new contract the district offered an early
retirement plan. Of the 107 principals in WPS, 30 took advantage of this
plan. In addition, five moved to other districts. Over a two year period, 60
principals left WPS. Having set the stage, we will now elaborate upon the
methodology used in our study.
Selection of Sample
It was vital to our study that we correctly identify three principals who
were transformational leaders. We used the following criteria to select the
principals; inside selectors, outside selectors, and the Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire (MLQ) (Bass & Avolio, 1990a) to select the principals who
were the subjects of the case studies. Information from these three sources
was used to make the final selection of principals.
We chose ten people, selectors," who were actively involved with the
WPS district. Five of these selectors were employed by WPS (Inside
Selectors). They were either in positions of leadership in the central
administration or were elementary principals. Several of the inside selectors
were recently retired administrators who worked closely with elementary
principals during the previous school year. The principals chosen as
selectors had held leadership positions in the elementary principals
association and had been employed in the district for over 20 years. As a
result, they knew all the elementary principals in the district. The selectors
from the central administration had been principals, continued to work with
all the elementary principals, and had worked their entire career in WPS.
They too, knew all the elementary principals in the district. Five selectors
were from outside the district in the private or higher education sector
(Outside Selectors). Each of the outside selectors had worked with a
number of elementary principals from WPS on various educational projects.
The outside selectors were chosen because of their familiarity with
elementary principals in WPS.
We asked the selectors to identify elementary principals in WPS who
possessed all four of the following characteristics of transformational
leadership. The characteristics were based on Bass' operationalization of
transformational leadership (1985). They are:
Has a vision of what is best for the school, and communicates this
vision to others.
Helps others develop their own potential as leaders.
Seeks to change others' ways of looking at issues and problems.
Shares power and responsibility with others.
As a reference, along with the characteristics, the selectors were given a
list of elementary principals who were in WPS during the previous school
year, who were still principals at the time of this study, and had been a
principal at their school for at least one full year (Appendix A). The reason
that we selected principals who were at their school at least one full year is
because research shows that it takes at least one year for a principal to
begin to make an identifiable impact on a school (Fullan, 1991).
All of the inside selectors knew and had worked with all of the principals
in the target population to be studied. The outside selectors were used to
corroborate the identification of principals by the inside selectors. Greater
weight was given to the identification of principals made by the inside
selectors, because they were the most familiar with all the elementary
principals in WPS.
The inside selectors approached this task with interest and dedication.
For example, one of them has enjoyed a long close relationship with a
particular principal in WPS and is the godfather of that principal's son.
Nonetheless, the inside selector did not include that principal on his list of
principals who demonstrated characteristics of transformational leadership.
The inside selector made a point of telling the researchers that this indicated
how seriously he took this assignment.
The names of forty-four elementary principals appeared on the selectors'
survey. Eleven principals were identified as having all four characteristics
by at least two of the inside selectors. Some of these eleven principals were
also identified by outside selectors. These eleven principals were asked to
take the MLQ (Bass & Avolio, 1990b) in order to confirm the
recommendations of the selectors. All of the eleven principals agreed to
complete the MLQ.
There are two forms of the MLQ. One is the MLQ Rater Form, used to
evaluate leaders and colleagues. The other is the MLQ Self-Rating Form
used by leaders to, "evaluate how frequently, or to what degree, they believe
they engage in [transformational, transactional, or non-leadership behavior]
toward their supervisees or colleagues ... The MLQ has been used to
examine the overall and individual profiles of people in an organization"
(Bass & Avolio, 1990a). The MLQ gives a rating of leaders on four
transformational, two transactional and one non-leadership factor scales. It
was developed by Bass and Avolio to assist them in their studies of
transformational and transactional leadership. According to Bass and
Avolio, (1990a). "The reliability coefficients for the MLQ Self-Rating Form ...
yielded a range of .60-92" (p. 21). We could not find any information about
the validity of the MLQ.
Of the eleven principals identified through the selectors' surveys, we
considered for the case studies those with the highest total transformational
score on the MLQ. We also used the scores from the two sections of the
MLQ which indicate to what degree a person uses intellectual stimulation
and individualized consideration, because these two factors are similar to
connectedness and intellectual capital.
The three principals selected for the study had transformational scores
above the 90th percentile on the MLQ. They all scored above the 90th
percentile on the individualized consideration factor scale and above the
80th percentile in the intellectual stimulation scale. Each of the three
principals were also identified on at least three inside selector surveys.
None of the other eight principals matched or exceeded the aforementioned
criteria. These results are summarized in our Selector Grid (Appendix B).
Pilot Study of Interview Guides
Concurrent with the selection process, we developed and administered
an interview guide for principals. It was designed to help us learn about
three areas; transformational leadership, principals' acquisition and use of
intellectual capital, and how principals use connectedness. The questions
in the guide were based upon the conceptual framework and literature
review described in Chapter 2.
The guide was tested with four elementary principals who did not work in
WPS and had been at their school at least one full year. These pilot
interviews confirmed it was possible to get the type of information we
needed to conduct our research and that the interview guide would elicit
both historical and contemporary episodes that could be used to discover
how transformational principals lead through the use of intellectual capital
and connectedness. The pilot interviews allowed us to streamline the
logistics of scheduling, taping, and transcribing interviews.
Based upon the pilot interviews with principals, we made several
important research decisions. We chose to split our initial interview guide
into two parts. One served as the "grand tour" interview (Appendix C) and
the second focused on specific questions related to the research topic
(Appendix D). According to Spradley (1979), a grand tour" interview can
include many aspects of the informant's experience such as physical space,
a specific time period, or a sequence of events.
The three principals selected for in-depth study were approached by one
or both of the primary researchers and asked to participate in a study of
leadership of elementary school principals. All three readily agreed. Each
researcher had sole responsibility for gathering data at one site, and the
third site was shared by both researchers, to facilitate the scheduling of
interviews, observations and other research activity. This also allowed the
researchers to have a shared experience at one site which facilitated
problem-solving and data collection.
Each principal introduced the researchers to the staff of the school in a
large group meeting. The principal let the staff know that s/he endorsed the
research being done, and that the principal would not have access to any
information given by staff members. The researchers spoke with the staff
about the general purpose of the study, namely to look at the leadership of
elementary school principals. The staff was told that their principal had been
selected because we felt that the principal was successful as a leader.
Transformational leadership was never discussed with either the staff or the
Initial Interviews with Principals and Selection of Change Episodes
Data collection began with personal interviews with the three principals.
By interviewing the principals, we gained insight into their perceptions of
their leadership behavior as it related to connectedness and intellectual
We developed and used interview guides for the first two interviews with
each principal. The first interview (Appendix C) was designed to establish a
relationship with the principal and to ask the "grand tour" questions
(Spradley, 1979) which helped direct further inquiry. The second interview
(Appendix D) solicited information about intellectual capital and
connectedness. Based on the information provided in these two interviews
we selected two episodes for further study.
For each case study, we examined two episodes in detail, one past, and
one ongoing. An episode is a specific change event or problem that
occurred in the school. For example, in one of the schools where a case
study took place, the principal had grappled with the transition from being a
primary school (early childhood through second grade) to a fuil elementary
school (early childhood through grade five). The specific episodes for each
case are described in detail in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. The episodes were
chosen according to information from the second interview with each
principal. Targeting two episodes gave us a structure for gathering
information about the principal.
Gathering of Information from Episodes
A structured interview guide was developed to gather specific information
about the principal's leadership in each episode (Appendix E). The same
interview guide was used both for the principal and the other informants. We
did a pilot using the interview guide and made changes as necessary.
For each episode, we began by interviewing the principal. We then
interviewed other informants, mostly teachers, observed meetings and
informal interactions in the school, and held additional interviews with the
principal. The interviews were our primary source of data. Throughout this
process, our focus was the leadership exhibited by the principal. The
specific episodes served to set boundaries for data collection and provided
a context for the interpretation of actions.
We identified teachers to interview after the initial interviews with the
principal. We began by asking the principal to name teachers who would
know about the particular episodes. We used a sequential selection
strategy to identify teachers and other informants to be interviewed (Goetz &
LeCompte, 1984). At the end of each interview, we asked for names of other
people who would know about the particular episode. We interviewed
teachers and other informants who were involved in the historical episode
as well as those involved in the current episode.
Prior to every interview, each participant received and signed an
Informed Consent Form, giving information about confidentiality and
possible uses of the study. The participant was given an opportunity to read
and review the form with the researcher and ask questions related to the
study before signing. All participants who were approached by the
researchers to take part in the study agreed to be included in the study.
We conducted fourteen interviews with principals, twenty-seven with
teachers, three with parents, and three with others who knew the principal.
We interviewed each principal four to five times and conducted forty-seven
interviews throughout the research.
Data were collected over an eight month period. Each interview was
recorded on audio cassette tape and later transcribed. We used a structured
guide for each interview and wrote field notes during the interviews. We
developed the guide to insure that we asked the same questions to all
informants. We then asked more in-depth questions depending upon the
responses from the person being interviewed.
The primary unit of data analysis was selected sections of interview
transcripts, exemplars. We used a criterion-based selection process to
identify the exemplars. We "established] in advance a set of criteria .. that
the units for study must possess" (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984). The criteria
used to select the exemplars were the initial codes described below. The
exemplars were taken from interviews with the principals and others who
were familiar with and had regular contact with the principals.
These interviews were structured around specific episodes identified
after two initial interviews with each principal studied. The episodes are
events which occurred in the recent past or the present. We selected
episodes as a focus of data collection because leadership is manifested in
the context of social interactions over time. We needed particular episodes
of change and problem solving to observe the leadership behavior of the
We created a start list of codes prior to the first pilot interview (Miles &
Huberman,1984) (Appendix F). We revised the list of codes after the pilot
interviews and asked more specific questions related to this study. This led
to more specific definitions of the codes (Appendix G). This start list of codes
was developed using indicators of leadership from Burns (1978) and Bass
Each interview was transcribed, read, re-read, and then coded. To
organize this process we used a software program named HyperQual
(Padilla, 1991) which is a Macintosh program developed to be used in
conjunction with HyperCard for the analysis of qualitative data. All the
interviews were transcribed into the HyperQual program. The program
allows the researcher to attach codes to selected sections of the text. These
sections, called exemplars, are then saved in HyperCard stacks. Identically
coded exemplars from all three cases are easily collated across the stacks.
HyperQual also allowed us to identify when two or more codes frequently
appeared in the transcripts.
We used HyperQual to identify relevant text segments or 'meaning units'
within the data and attached codes to the text" (Tesch, 1992, p. 3) using our
start list of codes. After we identified the exemplars that fit the start list of
codes, HyperQual sorted the exemplars according to the codes. Initially, we
used open coding which is the process of breaking down, examining,
comparing, conceptualizing and categorizing data (Strauss & Corbin, 1990,
p. 61). Then we used axial coding to "make connections between the
categories of the codes" (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p.96).
In order to ensure validity, we used a double-coding approach.
"Definitions get sharper when two researchers code the same data set and
discuss their initial difficulties. Disagreements show that the definition has to
be expanded or otherwise amended" (Miles & Huberman, 1984 p. 60). We
double-coded two interview transcripts. We also used outside auditors,
doctoral students, and a professor of education administration, to provide
feed-back about the clarity of our codes. They were given the exemplars
without the codes attached, and a description for each code. They each had
received information about the study and had been trained in coding text.
The auditors read each exemplar and assigned a code or codes to that
section. The codes that the outside auditors assigned were compared to our
initial coding. When major discrepancies arose between the codes
assigned to exemplars by the researcher and the auditor, the codes were re-
examined and changes were made as necessary. A large majority of
matches existed between the codes attached by the researcher and the
codes attached by the outside auditors.
In-depth narratives of the data collected from the interviews were used to
"tell the story" to the readers of this thesis. We also used information
gathered during the observations, activities, and interviews with the
informants involved in this study.
Following the process described above, we each coded the interviews
we had done. Since our studies are linked, we then shared the coded
exemplars with the other primary researcher. Next, each of us separately
looked for themes across the codes and proceeded to use axial coding
techniques. The codes were examined for emerging themes, thoughts, and
Through our selection process we identified principals who are
transformational leaders. Using our initial interviews, we targeted two
episodes in which the leadership of the principal would be demonstrated.
We proceeded to interview numerous informants about each episode. From
coding the interviews with the principals and other informants, we developed
categories related to transformational leadership. We further refined, linked,
and conceptualized these categories using axial coding. Ultimately, this
provided further insight into how three elementary principals use intellectual
capital and connectedness as transformational leaders.
My intention always has been to arrive at human contact without
enforcing authority. A musician, after all, is not a military officer. What
matters most is human contact. The great mystery of music making
requires real friendship among those who work together. Every
member of the orchestra knows I am with him and he in my heart
(Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor, Los Angeles Philharmonic). (Cited in
Bennis & Nanus, 1985, p. 55)
This chapter examines how Karen Marx2, a principal at Murphy
Elementary, connects with teachers. Leaders who connect with others make
special efforts to be considerate, empathetic, show concern, care for and
demonstrate support for the people that they work with (Podsakoff, Todor, &
Schuler, 1983, pp. 173-185).
Karen talks with teachers often about school and their personal lives.
This is how she gets to know them better, how she challenges them, and
how she takes time to find out about their needs and aspirations. Karen then
finds ways to help and support teachers. In short, this is how she connects
Based on the research of Burns (1978) as operationalized by Bass
(1985, 1990) and described in detail in Chapter 2, the following categories
of connections that principals make with teachers have been identified.
1 This case was researched jointly by Dariene LeDoux and Armistead Webster. This chapter was
authored solely by Darlene LeDoux.
2 Karen Marx is a psuedonym used to protect the identity of the principal studied.
Engages followers (teachers): Keeps in touch, attracts, takes initiative
and connects with followers, fully informs others, has two-way conversations,
identifies followers needs, and meets and acts upon those needs.
Collective purpose: Builds a team with a common or joint purpose,
leader and follower share passions, goals, objectives, or mission, pursuit of
a common or joint purpose, the mission or task at hand excites both follower
and leader, beliefs are shared, leaders needs are met by followers interests,
actions, mission or needs, trust is developed by the confidence established,
and followers feel secure and supported by the leader.
Converts followers (teachers) into leaders: Leader mentors, actively,
willingly or purposefully converts followers into leaders, transfers
responsibility, encourages a variety of learning experiences, and provides
Following the categories of connections that principals make with
teachers, the vehicles of investigation are noted, followed by an opening
story introducing Karen Marx, the principal of Murphy Elementary.
Each category of connectedness will be examined, followed by examples
of how Karen connects with teachers. Following the examples of Karen's
connections and interactions with teachers, is a case summary highlighting
the themes that Karen uses during her interactions with teachers.
All the names in this case are pseudonyms created to mask the true
identify of the people who volunteered to participate in this research study.
Vehicles of Investigation
Two critical incidences of change were identified and used by the
researchers as vehicles of investigation in order to focus the data collection
for this study. In this case, they are the establishment of the Joint Governing
Team (JGT) and a continued emphasis on a school instruction theme of
Establishment of Joint Governing Team
A new structure of governance had been mandated by the new teacher
contract. Each school in West Public Schools (WPS), had been required to
establish a joint governing team at each site with a principal, four elected
teacher representatives, three elected parent representatives, one elected
classified employee representative, and one business representative.
Karen had already established a positive functioning governing team before
this new mandate. Karen and the teachers did not like to do things that they
did not have input into at the beginning or did not create themselves. Karen
felt that the mandated joint governing team process had created a negative
impact on their already smooth running governing team. My style is
collaborative and it has been since forever. The collaborative process
forced us to alter our already established team and fall into the guidelines of
the new process" (Karen Marx, 3-12-93). Although Karen was not happy
about having to fall into guidelines with the new process, she created a
successful joint governing team with the help of teachers, parents, a
business representative and an office staff member. Numerous joint
governing team meetings were observed by one researcher. The team
asked tough questions of each other and expected each member to take an
active role in the shared decision making process. There was a rotating
chair and this year a teacher was the chair of the committee. The joint
governing team at Murphy had written collaborative letters and sent them to
the central administration when they did not agree with certain mandates. It
appeared that Karen's risk taking and boldness had rubbed off on the
committee. She was willing to take the heat for any of their letters because
in this school district, the principal often would receive a phone call from
central office and have to explain the rationale of the communication from
the joint governing team. Karen was willing to do this because she and the
joint governing team wrote the letter together and believed that whatever
they noted was the best for kids. Karen always stood up for what was best
The joint governing team worked to become a cohesive unit through
retreats held away from the school in order to get to know each other better.
Karen organized the retreats with the help of a teacher on staff. During the
researcher's observation at one retreat, time was scheduled for school
planning and for social interaction. Actually, the social interaction had been
an integral part of the agenda. Karen felt that the joint governing team
needed to get to know each other better so that they could become a
cohesive and strong decision making body. As a result of this retreat and
other opportunities for interaction and lengthy discussions, they became a
solid and cohesive group who protected the interests of the teachers, staff,
community and parents at Murphy Elementary School.
This was the third year that the staff at Murphy Elementary School had
been learning about critical thinking. Karen felt that critical thinking was one
of the most important staff development activities that the staff could
undertake at Murphy. She believed that adults were responsible for the
growth and development of students and that they could do this best by first
learning how to think critically themselves and then by helping their students
learn how to think critically. Karen felt that critical thinking could be the key
for improved student achievement for at-risk students. This was Karen's
passion and it also became the passion of many staff members. The staff
had participated in classes instructed by a university professor, had
participated in inservices by consultants, had attended conferences, and
had taught themselves about critical thinking in study groups and through
related reading materials. During the researchers' observations, teachers
used critical thinking in their instructional approaches and referred to it in
their conversations with students and adults.
The Principal in Action
Karen Marx at Murphy Elementary School
Karen Marx is the principal at Murphy Elementary School. Murphy is
located on the west side of a school district in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Murphy Elementary was built in 1950. It is a two-story school surrounded by
small homes owned or rented by middle-class families. Many of the
students who attend Murphy Elementary are Latino or Anglo. Murphy is a
bilingual school; a substantial number of students do not speak English as
their native language and are in need of native-language instruction in
Karen has been the principal of this school for eight years. She loves her
work and constantly reflects upon the needs of her school community and
the teachers at the school. She is always interested and willing to take time
to engage actively with teachers and students. In particular, she has
"conversations with teachers on a daily basis. She uses these
conversations to get to know the teachers better and to help her shape her
ideas for the school. Karen has many qualities of a transformational leader.
She is considerate and demonstrates genuine interest and concern for the
well-being of the adults that she works with at Murphy Elementary School.
Karen is bilingual, and her skills are appreciated and admired by the
teachers, the parents, and the students. She also has strong expertise in
special education and uses her experience to ensure that students do not
get labeled as a "special education" student simply because of their
language or cultural differences. She wants to make sure that students who
do need special education services receive the service and support that they
need to be successful in school and in life.
Karen always goes to the playground after school to "touch base" with
the students and their parents and to support the teachers on supervision
duty. During the first time that we interviewed Karen, she asked us to go with
her on the playground after school so that she could say good-bye to the
students. As we were on the playground, she talked to students about their
progress in school and many students greeted her with hugs. She helped
parents locate their children, laughed with the students, and reminded them
to go straight home right after school and not to linger on the playground.
Many of the older siblings of the students came to pick-up their brothers and
sisters and Karen knew many of them. She called to them by name and
asked them how they were doing in school, too. Many of these older
students were Murphy Elementary Alumni.
Examples in this case are provided to demonstrate how Karen connects
with teachers by giving personal attention to people on the staff at Murphy
Elementary school. After the examples of Karen's interactions and
connections with staff members, a summary of the case study will follow
highlighting the themes that were discovered. This will include a review of
how Karen uses the themes in her interactions with staff members.
The informer will be cited following each quote or information related to
an interview. All interviews are confidential so the names of the informers
have been changed to protect anonymity. In the case study section of the
chapter, each quote will be followed by the letter of this case (K), the
identification number of the informant, and the date of the interview. For
example, (Informant K-1, 10-18-93). When Karen, the principal is cited, her
name will follow the quote with the date of the interview. For example,
(Karen Marx, 3-12-93).
Connectedness and Karen Marx
Engages Teachers. Karen keeps in touch with teachers on a regular and
frequent basis. She in interested in their professional and personal lives.
She indicates pleasure and interest in learning about them as human
beings. Her pride is reflected in the opportunities that she provides and
takes in order to interact with staff members at school and in more
comfortable places like her home or a location outside of school.
Her office is arranged more like a living room than that of a typical
principal's office. A small table with a plant sits between two high-back, soft-
blue upholstered chairs. Magazines are placed underneath the small table.
The ambiance in the office is comfortable and inviting. Karen said:
I think conversation defines reality and culture. I had a teacher in for a
classroom observation yesterday. We spent forty-five minutes
together and talked about her upcoming wedding in July. We talked
about what will go on in 'spring break. This is a free piece. That's real
important. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
She makes it a point to be visible and to be available for teachers to talk
with her and to meet with her. I asked her how does she know when people
need to talk to her, and she said that she "looks for a look* and that she
"listens to the teachers" (Karen Marx, 10-7-93).
Make yourself available. You're in their presence. You put the time
there. Somebody, yesterday around, 4:30, 5:00, you're just, you're
there. How do I say that? You can pick up a look that someone has
and you make sure that moment isn't a time where you can interact a
great deal, that you, within the day, can pop in and see how things are
going. Being quick on response time, I think is real important. I see
the support of teachers is a major, I mean one of the major parts of the
mission of being the Principal. I am not in the classroom daily
teaching children; teachers are. So it's incumbent on me to clear the
way, from any of the stuff that is extraneous to the teacher/child
interaction. (Karen Marx, 10-7-93)
Karen connects with teachers by making herself available to engage in
conversations. She looks for teachers who need to talk and then she makes
time to talk with them. One of Karen's major roles or missions is to support
Teachers noted that the principal is visible throughout the school. When I
asked what "visible" meant, the teacher said,
Well, you see her in the halls and you see her out on the playground
and you see her at field days. She goes out and they say, 'O.K., all
the parents need to take a jump rope and run the race.' She'll grab a
jump rope and she'll run the race just as everybody else. You know,
she doesn't just administrate, she is involved. (Informant K-3, 10-5-93)
She senses what people need, she asks them questions and she is an
active listener. In fact, she considers listening a very important responsibility
of the principal. The teachers (had been actively discussing the teachers
contract. Because of the past labor relations difficulties between the
teachers union and the central administration, teachers were concerned
about their upcoming contract. Karen sensed that need and provided an
opportunity for teachers to talk about their concerns. She said;
Well, you listen to different pieces. Right now, for example, teachers
are quite up in arms. It's not particularly instructional^ oriented but it
will affect instruction and those are issues around feeling devalued by
a school system that doesn't pay them and those kind of things. And
their tremendous extremes of perception that staff has around other
issues. Knowing that, you have to provide forums for the conversation
to be open and thoughtful and to get resolution at least as a group of
people about how life needs to look here. We talked about that at our
staff meeting last time we met. We spent about an hour and a half on
that conversation and that was nothing that had come directly to me to
problem-solve, but I knew that was on the minds of people. I knew
that there needed to be a forum for all staff to come together to talk
about that, and so we pushed in that conversation of how folks were
feeling. (Karen Marx, 10-7-93)
Karen connects with teachers by identifying what their needs are and
then she provides them with opportunities to express their feelings. She
wants to know how teachers are feeling so that she can find a way to help
Teachers enjoy being with this principal, too. When I asked a teacher
what type of interactions she has with the principal, she said:
We meet weekly to discuss philosophies, to check perceptions, to
touch base, to talk about things in school. We talk about the day-to-
day operations. We have some personal interactions outside of
school. She's nurturing. If I have a concern about a teacher and
what's going on, she knows we need to do things for the teacher, not
to be threatening. Karen is focusing on the human being, the teacher.
Shes not there intimidating the teacher. I think the woman is
incredible. She seems so learned in so many different areas.. .She
reads quite a bit. She is very articulate and gets her point across.
She's a real person. I could sit down with her and have a
conversation about real life. (Informant K-1, 10-18-93)
Karen connects by showing teachers a part of herself as a person. She
lets them in to her personal life. She takes time to talk with teachers so that
they can have shared experiences.
She creates situations in which people can let their hair down and relax.
Her willingness to bring people together outside of the school has
established an environment that encourages open conversations. Karen
was concerned about upcoming teacher reductions. In anticipation of the
teacher reductions, she planned a reception for the staff in her home. Karen
A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a reception for staff in anticipation of
allocations coming up this month. I thought that was important
knowing what the staff went through in January to put through
scenarios. Watching the pain and knowing how difficult it was to do
that. I thought that it was important that we all come together as
people in a non-school setting so I hosted a reception at the house.
(Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
Karen connects with teachers by opening her home to them. She saw
their pain and addressed that need by providing a place where teachers
could talk outside of the school. At the gathering in her home she provided
the ambiance, food, and drink so that teachers would feel more comfortable
to share their concerns and hopes for the future.
Karen provided an opportunity for the joint governing team to go to a
different location other than the school site to learn more about one another
and to organize and plan for the upcoming school year. This particular
school year the team went to the mountains for a planning retreat. When I
asked a parent who attended the retreat why she felt that the principal
arranged the retreat, she said, "I think she wanted to get the group a little
more cohesive, try and get everyone up to speed, those that were coming in
new, those that were still there, try to get everyone on the same page, a
common thread" (Informant K-3,10-15-93).
A teacher said that the principal has done this type of retreat almost every
year. Teachers and parents who were involved in the school indicated that
this planning retreat, time away from the school, helped develop trust among
the members of the staff and the community who were involved in the retreat.
Karen organizes opportunities for teachers to talk in informal settings.
She does not leave the gathering to occur serendipitously. She plans them
according to the needs of the teachers by sensing when they need time
outside of the school to get to know each other better. These gatherings are
not just for fun. Karen believes that the purposes are to get to know each
other which in turn will help them build better plans for the students at
school. She connects with teachers by providing these opportunities, by
being there with them, and by conversing with them which helps her get to
know them better.
Karen looks for opportunities to talk with teachers, to informally observe
them and to listen to them. She takes the initiative to connect with teachers.
The interactions that she has with adults coupled with the informal
observations of the activities around the school provide her with more
information to help her assist teachers with their challenges. She wants to
make the school a better place for teachers so that they can be good
teachers for students. She finds out what teachers need by her interactions
with them and then she acts upon their needs. Then she works with
teachers to go beyond their needs to fulfill their joint mission as educators.
This is the essence of connectedness.
The needs of the teachers are known by Karen. She personally helps
others in need, gives personal attention to and demonstrates knowledge
about teachers feelings and in turn helps them. She connects with teachers
by responding to their needs. She cares and supports others and shows
this by supporting them in their jobs and in their personal lives.
Karen demonstrates this quality in-depth. She has concerns about the
continuous demands upon the teachers. In particular, the recent teacher
union activities had caused her great concern. There were talks about
possible work slow down. Karen was worried about the staff. Her concerns
led her to say:
There is less emotional energy. Less intellectual energy for some
reason. I look forward to this spring as a third year of some major
pieces. This is not a normal life. I reject it as (normal life). If this is
normal of who we are as educators in the world, then I have to reject
that thought. Because I don't see how human beings are able to
survive it in the longer term. They could put up with it in short term
and re-direct it at a tremendous cost. I think that these events have
had a tremendous toll on people. It does affect everything. (Karen
She is able to sense the stress and concerns in the school by knowing
the teachers well.
Sometimes it's just walking into classrooms after school and talking
about what's going on and people reveal, they are real informal and
obviously it (the relationship) develops over time. You have to be in
touch with and know what is making staff tick. Where the highs are,
where the lows are, knowing that is part of life and figuring out
different things to support that. Acknowledge it and to be real with it
but to find ways to help people get beyond that. (Karen Marx, 3-12-
She is direct with the feed-back that she gives to staff members. She is
fair and wants to help people improve. Karen connects with teachers by
developing a relationship with them. This relationship is developed by the
conversations that they have with one another over a period of time.
Her intuition and integration of information about the staff and students
allow her to leam what needs the staff may have.
Karen engages in frequent conversations with teachers and challenges
them to express their thoughts. A teacher said,
She's open to other philosophical beliefs, but she, I think demands
the same type of professionalism that if you have a different opinion,
you bring with you the same kinds of things she does, the knowledge,
the why, and how does this make sense in what we are doing?
(Informant K-5, 10-18-93)
The same teacher said that Karen was receptive to different ideas. Most
of the time they had agreed on issues, but one time the teacher and Karen
had a different opinion about an issue near and dear to the teacher.
I vividly remember one time when I didn't agree with her about
something and ... our philosophy was basically the same but how we
wanted it to be carried out was different in the actual what do we do
next year?... Writing is a tool that is strong for me and Karen. She
listened. I wrote down things and I asked her to respond in writing.
By the time we finished, we had come up with a like resolution. I think
a lot of times teachers don't live up to their professionalism and
instead of taking it a step further in an intellectual way, they take it in
more of a personal way, and then there's no real communication.
Karen fosters real communication. (Informant K-5, 10-18-93)
She uses the information to ask the teachers questions to make sure that
they have thought out and can clearly articulate their questions and plans for
students. She connects with them because they know that she actively
listens to them. Her questions and responses indicate that she takes their
Karen also connects with teachers by meeting their individual needs.
For example in the preceding quote, Karen met this teacher's need by
responding to her in writing. This was in response to the teacher's need to
express her thoughts in writing. Karen is a talented writer and agreed to
respond to the teacher in writing because the teacher had a need and Karen
wanted to respond to that need. During this process, the communication
needs of both Karen and the teacher were met. This is another example of
how Karen connects with teachers.
Karen talked about the importance of taking time to be available for
teachers beyond the school day. For example, a group of teachers had a
pot luck for parents after school. She was there early before the staff arrived
to make sure that she was present to support them. She helped bring in
boxes, helped with the set up, and was there to help remove any barriers
that teachers, students, or families could experience" (Karen Marx, 10-7-93).
When asked about what the teachers would say about her leadership
I dont know. I would think supported by it. I'm not sure that staff here,
or anywhere else frankly, really knows the job of a principal. In fact, I
think even those closest to the principal are in some ways clueless .. .
part of the job of being a leader is not to trouble people and part of the
job is to support them so that what goes on in the life of the children is
as free of junk as it can be... (Karen Marx, 10-7-93)
Karen is known for demonstrating her care, concern, and high
expectations for parents, teachers, and students. A teacher at the school
said that she respects every interaction that she has with the principal
because the principal respects her, too. According to this teacher,
We started extending the kindergarten day three years ago and it has
developed over time. The flexibility that Karen has allowed me as a
professional to make decisions that I think are best for kids. I think it is
wondrous because sometimes we're so caught up in bureaucratic
kinds of things or the district policy or this and that and she just always
says, 'How will this benefit the children?' and then we do it. .. she
individualizes for people, for adults and for kids. (Informant K-5, 10-
A teacher on the staff died and the principal called the staff together so
that they could talk about their feelings and about their experiences with this
teacher. A teacher who attended the gathering said that the principal
grieved with and tried to nurture the entire faculty:
When we lost a teacher and she had to tell everyone in the faculty
and everyone was allowed to speak about how they were feeling and
to tell stories about John. It was really noticeable the way that she
would try to nurture the whole faculty. We grieved and she was right
there, too. (Informant K-6, 6-17-93)
A staff member said,
Often times, Karen will call me into the office just to sit and chat about
what I see going on through the building. We also talk about our
personal lives and things that are going on in our own homes which I
think makes for a really good relationship. It is a well rounded
relationship. Its not strictly business but, yet, we get our work done.
(Informant K-7, 6-23-93)
Karen connects with teachers by revealing her personal life experiences.
Teachers in turn are open to share their life experiences with Karen. This
two-way communication is an effective process toward building a
relationship of mutual trust.
The staff member described a situation which occurred at the end of the last
school year. The principal received a memo from Central Administration
stating that the school office staff were expected to go to the Central Office at
the beginning of the school year to perform data entry of information for all
of the schools in the school district because part-time personnel could not
be hired because of budget cuts. Karen got very upset, sat down and wrote
a letter to the department that sent the memo, to the associate
superintendent, to the superintendent and to the head of the classified office
personnel indicating that, since the school office staff did not have extra help
doing all of their jobs, maybe they would like to send some of their people to
help them at the school. The thought of asking the school office staff to leave
the school at the beginning of the year was not practical and would be a
hardship on the school. This staff member at Murphy Elementary thought
that Karen helped her and risked getting in trouble because of her concern
for the office staff, the teachers and the students. (Informant K-7, 6-23-93)
Karen connected with this staff member by personally supporting her.
She sent a memo to Central Office which showed the staff member that she
was concerned about her since she would have been most impacted by the
directive. This staff member felt like Karen was looking after her well being.
She acknowledged the risk that Karen took and smiled as she recalled this
A first grade teacher is appreciative that Karen supports kids, too.
Her focus is for kids. She is on the playground in the mornings,
hugging, touching kids, talking to them. She always manages to go
through the building once or twice a day just to pop in to say 'hello,
what are you doing?' You know that always her main goal is what's
best for kids and I think that that's so admirable with anybody, not just
a principal. But there's no doubt that she is very caring and loving
and giving. (Informant K-6, 6-17-93)
Finally, a second grade teacher, said that the principal is empathetic.
Going in and talking to her about kids, anybody, whenever she talks
about kids in a sad situation she has tears in her eyes. She is so
empathetic towards children. So sympathetic to their needs and
understands greatly. (Informant K-6, 6-17-93)
Karen demonstrates her love for children. Teachers are aware of her
dedication to children and admire her for her focus on what is best for kids.
Karen connects by demonstrating her care and concern for students which
teachers see as genuine and noteworthy.
Karen is a helper who gives personal attention to others in need. She is
keenly aware of the feelings of those who are around her and extends
herself to help them in a professional and/or personal manner. Her interest
in helping others has earned her respect from the people that work with her
at Murphy Elementary.
Karen connects with teachers by fully informing them, exchanging
information with them and by initiating two-way conversations Often times,
she shares passions with teachers and teachers share their passions with
Karen. She learns about them by being visible throughout the school and
by stopping to visit them in their classrooms. She is cognizant of the
importance of building relationships and makes time to do this. She
individualizes her responses to what teachers need and then takes action to
get them what they need.
Collective Purpose. Karen works to ensure that teachers are doing their
best to educate students. She feels responsible for encouraging and
guiding teachers to challenge their own thinking and behaviors. In fact, a
teacher spoke about a "shared belief, a shared passion:
.. .1 still remember one of the questions during the interview was,
'Whose responsibility is it to educate the children?' and my response
was 'every adult in the building.' It ended up that was a real common
point for both of us because we believed that it's all of the adults
responsibility to teach children, a lot of times through role modeling.
(Informant K-5, 10-18-93)
Karen does not want to dominate the conversation nor does she expect
the teacher to accept everything that she says without more information or
more in-depth conversation. She expects teachers to have thought-out their
ideas, and/or researched them and then to work toward a common joint
purpose. The governing team had been meeting about staffing for next
school year. The entire faculty had been learning about critical thinking over
the last three years. The following information is related to how Karen works
together with people:
You identify a problem and then people are really able and ready to
work together as a committee of about eight and keep coming back to
the full faculty with different pieces. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
It is real interesting to watch all of the faculty work through really quite
difficult readings.... we have a teacher guiding us every other week..
.. our team is a very thinking staff. One that has been together.
(Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
A teacher complimented Karens willingness to receive and expect
honest feedback from them:
The questions that she tries to raise don't have just one answer. You
know, what do you think about this or how can we do this differently?'
She really does try to get feedback from the faculty. (Informant K-6, 6-
When the question of staff reductions faced the teachers, a process was
established by a teacher to help the staff figure out how to cut staff members.
The joint governing team was assigned the duty of presenting a plan to the
faculty about staffing reductions. They agreed to go through the process that
the teacher developed to ensure that the decision they made regarding
staffing was an objective and broad-based decision. After the process, a
teacher who took part in the process said, "We really worked this out. It
wasnl just a stamp of approval of what Karen wanted. But still, I felt much
more comfortable with the process that we had gone through" (Informant K-
2, 6-16-93). It would have been easy for Karen to continue with the
traditional process of determining staff cuts. Instead, she welcomed the
process that the teacher identified which had been gleaned from critical
thinking literature. Karen connected with these teachers by welcoming their
process, actively participating in the process and by agreeing to make
changes as necessary. After the process, the results were similar to the
initial decision, but what mattered to the teachers was that Karen was willing
to try their idea to get resolution to the challenge of reducing staff members
for the next school year, rather than by simply accepting her
recommendation for staff cuts.
Karen makes time to talk with parents that have problems or have
concerns about the school. A staff member said, "she tries to answer those
needs and I think that her involvement in the community has been a very
positive thing with the school" (Informant K-7, 6-23-93).
Karen connects with teachers by visiting them in their classrooms,
engaging with them in two-way conversations, finding out what they need,
and then by providing the support or resources that they need.
She actively engages in conversations with teachers and parents. She
enjoys the conversations and the challenges that occur before, during, and
following the conversations. She expects teachers to have a rationale for
what they do and she, in turn, will provide a rationale for her actions. She is
comfortable with fully informing and challenging others and expects others
to do the same with her.
Although a supporter of collaborative decision making, she believes that
not all decisions should be made by a committee, especially when the
committee is not accountable or responsible for the decisions that they
make. She generally supports the process of collaborative decision making
and building a team, but feels that only certain decisions belong to everyone
while other decisions belong to the principal. Following are some of her
thoughts about decision making:
My style is collaborative and it has been since forever. The
Collaborative Process forced us to alter our already established team
and fall in to the guidelines of the new process. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
I think you have to be clear about hearing and knowing every piece of
data there is and there are some decisions that you might make as a
small group, and some you might make as a large group. (Karen
She encourages consensual decision making provided that teachers
know that she is the person ultimately responsible for the decision. Some
decisions, she argues should be made by large groups, others by small
groups, and still others are to be made by her because as the principal of the
school, she is ultimately responsible for every decision that impacts the
Karen demonstrates leadership by examining beliefs, challenging ideas,
and encouraging the questioning of ideas presented by teachers and
herself. She shares her beliefs and values with staff members. She
develops her staff meeting agendas around school and district business yet
she provides time whenever possible to openly discuss how people are
feeling about the issues at hand.
When I asked Karen about the type of discussions that she has with
teachers, she talked about discussing the values and beliefs of the teachers
and herself: 'When I talk about model playing, part of that is constant
reiteration of what's important and the values that go with it. Wondering with
people" (Karen Marx, 3-12-93).
She noted that:
As a leader, what you do is talk about the important values that were
missed and, those are pretty universal, I think. Sometimes people's
behavior don't reflect that, but if you talk about it they will get to those
pieces pretty readily. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
She discusses her values and examines them with teachers in order to
push people to examine and identify their values. It is generally not a
common practice among principals to discuss values and beliefs with
staff members because this may leave the principal open to criticism. Karen
does this because she believes that values drive behaviors. She also tries
to understand what people do and why they do certain things with students.
If teachers can explain why they are doing something with students and
have a strong rationale for doing it, she is more likely to support them. If they
do something without thinking about what and why they are doing it, she
questions their actions and asks for reasons why they do what they do. She
connects with teachers by stimulating their conversation and by challenging
them to think about their responses and actions. Teachers know that Karen
has listened to them by the questions that she poses. Karen talked about
No group works together without relationships. That has to be figured
out and people have to know what drives thinking and conversation
and what drives one's belief structure. That's the building of
sensitivity to the conversation. (Karen Marx, 4-23-93)
You formalize an informal conversation, I guess is what it's about. I
mean structured times which is what retreats are, you structure events
so that people can have that interplay and it's well thought-out while
they may look like some levels of party sometimes, but structured into
the retreat. It doesn't happen by chance. And some of the initial
questions before we go to the retreat, I will be thinking about. Well,
what kind of questions will be raised? And those can come from me
or from the team members. Hopefully, we will take walks, talk with
each other about who we are and where we've come from and why
we are doing what we do, and get a better sense of past history on
each other to eventually begin to know what we value. Then to take
those pieces and formulate the team relationship of what we value as
a team. And if we value tremendously different things, it could be very
interesting. Not always for the good. I mean if what I value is an
individual piece, and not a piece of a whole and so those are the
pieces that have to early on obtain relationships. They start surfacing
so you can again know where to take the team where it has to go.
Relationships are the issues. (Karen Marx, 4-23-93)
Karen referred to "formalizing the informal conversations" in order to use
the interplay to foster thinking about serious issues (4-23-93). She likes to
"structure events so people can have that interplay" (4-23-93). Her eyes
sparkled, and she smiled when she discussed building common visions to
motivate both her and the staff to work together for the benefit of the kids and
the school. She noted that "talking with each other about what are our
common visions" was very important to the future of the school community
(Karen Marx, 4-23-93). This was done in a casual setting where food and
fun were involved. She goes to great lengths to provide an environment
where people can feel free to discuss their true feelings and to critically
examine their beliefs, hers included. Karen models identifying and
discussing values. Karen connects with teachers by sharing her beliefs and
values and learning about the beliefs and values of the teachers that she
works with at Murphy. Values are difficult to discuss and identify at times but
Karen drives the conversation about values because values drive the
behaviors of people. She will question her own values to make sure that
she is aligned with the values of the staff and vice versa.
Converts Teachers into Leaders. This principal is known for not taking
credit for her accomplishments. In fact, she directs the credit and some of
the work to others to create broad ownership among the staff and
community. Karen transfers the leadership baton. She gives responsibility
to others who are interested and willing to take positions of leadership. She
finds people who didn't think that they were ready to be leaders and then
encourages them to take leadership roles. The teachers noted that she
provides honest and sometimes too direct feedback to them. She expects
much from others and in turn gives everything plus more to the teachers, the
students and to the school. Karen said:
Adults are valued as change agents. I always step back, I wouldn't
associate any of those changes publicly to me. My public image
would always be one of how the staff has, or how the community has,
or how the children have progressed. That's real important so that the
people doing their work really are the empowered folks, and get
validated on that. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
A fourth-grade teacher said,
She motivates people to reach for what they believe in, to try to make
it come true. She doesn't stifle creativity. Her response to things is if
people say, we cant do that', she says, 'why not'? 'What's stopping
us from that'? She's, I guess, an idealistic person, optimistic. A lot of
times she says, 'the only limitations we have are the ones we set on
ourselves1; she's right. (Informant K-5, 10-18-93)
A teacher who is practicing to be a principal, also spoke of Karen as a
mentor and appreciated her willingness to share responsibility. "She has
been a wonderful mentor. She models, encourages me and gives me
responsibility to run the building. She is an example to me every day"
(Informant K-1, 10-18-93).
Karen transfers the leadership baton and connects with teachers by
actively converting them into leaders. She encourages teachers to take
leadership positions while still supporting them. She explained how she
encouraged a teacher who wanted to teach her colleagues computer
It is for personal reinforcement. When Mary came in and said, 'Gee,
I'd really like to teach a class after school to the staff in computers.'
It's nothing but encouraging and reinforcing her efforts. (Karen Marx,
She shares responsibilities, and models leadership by encouraging
teachers to create and to take risks for the school. For example, community
pot lucks were developed and led by teachers to highlight instruction.
Design teams comprised of teachers, created and implemented important
school programs and activities like the extended day kindergarten and
combination grade level classrooms.
Karen Has Needs. Too. According to Burns (1978), leaders must have
their needs met in order for the relationship to be transformational in nature.
Karen has many needs herself, yet she often is frustrated because she
cannot take time to do the things that she likes best. She does not have nor
does she make the time to do the things that she loves to do the most. In
particular, she loves to write. "I love to write. I love paper and I love to think
about how you say things to people. I mean even little things. I love
language. I think we are about language (Karen Marx, 3-5-93). "We should
be writing the books right now. About what goes on in public education
(Karen Mane, 3-12-93).
The human contact that she seeks is that of people with divergent
thoughts from hers. She also likes to be challenged in her thinking. Her
interests led her to demonstrate her commitment to life-long learning. Just
the openness of learning is something I look for a lot. I have to find different
ways to learn and grow" (Karen Marx, 3-12-93). "I like to seek opposing
points of view" (Karen Marx, 3-12-93).
When asked what she needs to grow professionally, she said; "Quality,
excellence, and intellectualism. I need intellectualism and I don't get that on
a daily basis (Karen Marx, 3-12-93).
Karen loves to have conversations with teachers and with students.
I love to have conversations with staff about what drives important
pieces of school. I love to meet with irrational people and I love
people, I guess. I mean, to help immediate issues. I think I'm real
good at listening to kids stuff around abuse and neglect issues. I
mean hearing what kids are saying before they talk it and then
helping them feel comfortable to talk about what they need. People
that come, just problems. I like them because it forces you to think
with people. The word problem is foreign to me. I don't view things
as problems. I love doing that with people. It seems that my
experiences have been that a lot of people see things as problems
and that is unusual to me. So it is fun to have conversations with
people. (Karen Marx, 4-18-93)
She reflected upon her personal life, too. When asked what she would
do if she could change anything in her life, she replied: I would find other
ways to do more of the living pieces. I find myself living life less because of
the demands of this job" (Karen Marx, 3-5-93).
During the interviews with Karen, I sensed her need to put the school
puzzle together. She focused on relationships and continuity. The
relationships were built upon the conversations and interactions that she
had with people. This leader is aware of the importance of human
conversation and is willing to provide a personal touch whenever possible.
She has an "interest in what people's lives are about but not a pursuit of
their lives" (Karen Marx, 3-12-93). Her life-long quest is for human
development. When asked what schools are all about she replied, Our
business is people, and it is human development and how you help facilitate
that taking place. Being there to support the development of other human
beings" (Karen Marx, 3-5-93).
She genuinely enjoys being with people. In particular, she loves to have
conversations with teachers. When asked about her favorite things to do
with people Karen responded;
I love to have conversations with staff about what drives important
pieces of school. So it is fun to have conversations with people.
People pieces are putting it together, trying to get a sense, a bigger
picture. A bigger picture is important, and helping the conversation
go to bigger pieces. (Karen Marx, 3-5-93)
Karen described "people pieces" and "helping the conversation go to
See, I come from a philosophy that people don't change, but that we
all can. I can do things that can help people do what they do in a
better way. I can, I think help people look at issues with multiple
perspectives, and to help them be a partner in thinking. To say, 'are
we doing what we want to do? It is a constant conversation of,
'where are we and where do we want to go?' Being real clear about
that and not accepting non-answers and by that I mean somebody
says, 'Well this.' Well, let's talk about that and does that move us to
where we want to go? (Karen Marx, 3-5-93)
This principal gets excited" when she talks to teachers about how they
are working with children.
I get excited, and I said this to a teacher yesterday. I was talking
about how she had thought about reflective thinking on her work with
children. How she had grown. She is a second year teacher and the
first year was pretty shaky in some ways. How she learned to listen,
analyze, and to grow. I get real excited when I hear people asking for
different ways to think and to teach. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
Other Characteristics. This leader is a fighter for the rights of teachers,
staff members and especially for students. She has earned the trust of many
of the staff members and students by listening to their problems, problem-
solving with them and by establishing opportunities for risk free
conversations without fear of repercussion from her as a principal. She said;
They tell me what they think. It varies on the situation. They feel
relieved. That is if they come with what they feel is a problem. We
can think about different ways to look at it. Multiple perspectives
around it. Pretty risk free conversations. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
When I asked a staff member if she thought that others on the staff trusted
Karen, the staff member said:
I think so. I really do. There are some people that still have
apprehensions maybe about talking to her about some things, but
generally speaking, I think the staff does respect Karen. They might
sometimes question some of the things she says and does but I think
they respect her and if they have a real concern they'll go to her.
(Informant K-7, 6-23-93)
Staff members admire Karen. They were impressed because she would
go to bat for them if the central administration was doing something that was
in their judgment not right for kids or not fair to teachers or staff. Karen
challenged the central administration regarding a testing policy. A staff
If she has a problem with downtown she lets them know. She fought
and fought with testing this year about over testing the kids. She feels
like the kids are over tested so she'll go to the administration if she
feels like something is not right. She'll let herself be heard. She's not
afraid of them. I really admire her for when she does things like that
because a lot of people are afraid to do that in this school district.
(Informant K-7, 6-23-93)
She is compassionate, very clear in her goals, and loves to have
conversations with people. The comments from her staff were consistently
very positive. Teachers have learned to expect Karen to challenge their
thinking. She is relentless when it comes to creating teachers and students
who are thinkers. Karen noted:
Something that is tremendously important to me is to help nurture
teachers. You know, if our kids cant think when they leave us, they
come in thinking and leave us thinking but it's how they do that and at
what levels they do that and particularly for lack of a better term, at risk
populations. I see that as an increasing need in public schools and in
any school. (Karen Marx, 10-7-93)
Karen believes that her role as a principal is to:
Think through the bigger picture. Being able to project those bigger
pictures in ways, many, many years down the line, and then figuring,
its like task analyzing the little steps along the way with people.
Certainly being able to model all of that in ones daily life. By second
basis, I think it is a tremendous function, the role of putting the bigger
picture together with people. The appropriate role of the principal?
The role is really how to find connections with the multiple pieces of
what goes on in a school community. I think you have to demonstrate
leadership in an intellectual thought, and in modeling learning. By
pursing it, struggling with it, and realize and know that it is a human
struggle. (Karen Marx, 3-12-93)
Karen has very strong opinions and expresses them with conviction.
She has the expertise of a leader and utilizes research to support her
thoughts and educational endeavors.
Karen takes pride in understanding the needs and the thinking of her
teachers. She connects with the teachers by getting to know their interests
and by "wondering" with then. "Wondering" is when Karen asks specific,
open-ended questions such as, "Why do we do it this way?" "Is this the best
thing to do for kids?" How could we do this to better meet the needs of
kids?" Karen is known and respected for her ability to change her strong
opinion after critically discussing an issue with a teacher and actively
listening to the teacher. At first, this intimidates teachers until they realize
that this is the way Karen expresses her thinking. Karen connects with
teachers by actively listening to them and by spending time with them.
Karen connects with teachers by personally taking care of their needs.
For example, when they were hurting from the fall-out of failed teacher
negotiations, she hosted staff gatherings at her home. She did this to take
care of her staff and to show them that their relationship with one another is
important and valued.
Karen exemplifies team building by scheduling opportunities for teachers
and herself to get to know one another more in-depth. Karen connects with
teachers by seeking them out and by challenging their thinking. At the same
time, she candidly shares her thoughts about the topic at hand. Karen
nurtures relationships and values the getting to know you* time that she has
After teachers get to know Karen, they discuss their personal concerns
with her. Karen develops trust with teachers by encouraging and
participating in open and honest communications with them. This occurs as
a result of numerous conversations between Karen and the teachers. Karen
also shares personal information about her and her family with the teachers.
This leads to mutual trust developed by Karen and the teachers.
Karen has a strong belief in human development. She is confident in her
leadership ability and expects others to share in the responsibility of
leadership. She connects with teachers by creating opportunities for
teachers to lead projects that are important to them and to the school by
providing the support, encouragement and coaching necessary for teachers
to find the leadership experiences meaningful and successful. Karen
mentors teachers. She volunteers her time to personally mentor teachers
who are interested in the principalship.
In summary, Karen has a gift for identifying what teachers need by her
interactions with them and then she acts upon those needs. Then she works
with teachers to go beyond their needs to fulfill their joint mission as
educators. This is the essence of connectedness.
She gives personal attention to others and teachers reciprocate that
attention. Karen connects with others by fully informing them, listening to
them and exchanging information via two-way conversations. She takes
time to build relationships and individualizes her responses to the needs of
Karen discusses her values openly with teachers. She pushes teachers
to examine and identify their values. Karen believes that values drive
Karen builds a common vision with teachers. The common vision
motivates her and the staff to work together for the benefit of the kids and the
The leadership baton is transferred from Karen to others on the staff.
She creates broad ownership for their shared mission. Finally, Karen
believes in human development. The development of all people, children
and adults. She feels a passion and demonstrates a genuine interest to "be
there to support the development of other human beings." (Karen Marx, 3-5-
The establishment of trust is evidenced by the open interactions that
Karen has with teachers. Karen uses connectedness throughout her
interactions with staff members. She nurtures teachers, puts together the
bigger picture with teachers and finds connections with teachers in the
everyday life of the school. She is a dynamic transformational leader who
uses connectedness to relate to; challenge, nurture, support, communicate
with and understand the teachers at Murphy Elementary School.
ANA DEL CASTILLO
These are the hard times in which a genius would wish to live. Great
necessities call forth great leaders. (Abigail Adams, 1790 in a letter to
Thomas Jefferson cited in Bennis & Nanus, 1985, p. 1)
This chapter examines how Ana Del Castillo1 an elementary principal at
Martinez Elementary connects with teachers. Leaders who connect with
others make special efforts to be considerate, empathetic, show concern,
care for and demonstrate support for the people with whom they work
(Podsakoff, Todor, & Schuler, 1983, pp. 173-185).
Ana demonstrates a strong commitment to kids. She personally
sacrifices her time to help students in need. Teachers see Ana as a
dedicated and caring professional. She is well respected and loved by the
staff, the parents, and the students at Martinez Elementary. She connects
with them by going way beyond the call of duty to show how she cares for
kids. In turn, many teachers have internalized this message and have
changed the way in which they deal with students to a more positive one.
Based on the research of Bums (1978) and as operationalized by Bass
(1985, 1990) and described in detail in Chapter 2, the following categories
of connectedness have been identified for this study of Ana Del Castillo:
Engages followers ('teachers): Keeps in touch, attracts, takes initiative
and connects with followers, fully informs others, has two-way conversations,
identifies followers needs, and meets and acts upon those needs.
1 Ana Del Castillo is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the principal studied.