TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP THROUGH INTELLECTUAL
CAPITAL: THREE CASE STUDIES OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
B.A., Princeton University, 1979
M.A., New York University, 1982
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 Armistead Webster
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree
has been approved for the
School of Education
Webster, Armistead C. G. (Ph. D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Transformational Leadership Through Intellectual Capital: Three Case
Studies of Elementary School Principals
Thesis directed by Professor Michael Murphy
The purpose of this study was to examine the acquisition and use of
intellectual capital by three elementary school principals who were identified
as transformational leaders. Bums (1978) identified intellectual capital as a
key attribute of transformational leaders. Current research gives little
information about how transformational leaders acquire and use intellectual
capital in educational settings.
The selection of three principals who were transformational leaders was
essential for the success of the study. The selection process used selectors
who were familiar with the population from which principals could be chosen.
The process also used the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) (Bass
& Avolio, 1990a). Following the selection, each principal was interviewed to
provide the basis for selecting two change episodes in his or her school.
Teachers and other members of the school community were interviewed
about the principals leadership role in these episodes. Open and axial
coding was used to analyze the interview data.
Each principal showed a broad range of strategies for acquiring intellectual
capital. Their use of intellectual capital fell into five broad categories ~
Planter of Seeds, Questioner, Flag Waver, Spotlight Shiner, and Analyzer.
The Intellectual Stimulation factor score from the MLQ accurately forecast the
degree to which each principal utilized intellectual capital.
This descriptive study provided an in-depth examination of one of the
dimensions utilized by transformational leaders to accomplish their goals. In
conjunction with other dimensions of transformational leadership the research
provided greater insight into the workings of transformational leaders.
The research for this study was conducted in collaboration with a fellow
doctoral candidate who examined the use of connectedness by the same
three principals. Each researcher collected data from one site exclusively and
the third site was shared by both researchers.
This abstract accurately represents the content $ the candidate'^ thesis^ I
recommend its publication.
Dedicated to my wife,
Suzanne Irene Barnard,
whose love makes all things possible.
I couldn't have done it without you.
The Principal as the Leader....................................4
Intellectual Leadership and Intellectual Capital...............9
Purpose of the Study..........................................11
Scope of the Study............................................11
Summary of Methods............................................11
Collaborative and Creative Nature of This Research............12
Structure of the Thesis.......................................13
2. REVIEW OF SELECTED LITERATURE.................................14
Theories of Leadership........................................14
Research on Transformational Leadership.......................21
West Public Schools...........................................33
Selection of Sample...........................................36
Pilot Study of Interview Guides..........................40
Initial Principal Interviews and Selection of Change
Gathering of Information from Episodes....................42
4. KAREN MARX.......................................................48
Critical Thinking: How It Came to Murphey ES.....................50
Seeker of Knowledge.......................................53
Planter of Seeds..........................................54
5. RON DANIELS......................................................69
Seeker of Knowledge.......................................74
Planter of Seeds..........................................76
6. ANA DEL CASTILLO................................................86
Change from ECE-2nd Grade to ECE-5th Grade School................88
Focusing on the Needs of Students Through the Intervention
Seeker of Knowledge.......................................90
Planter of Seeds..........................................92
Acquisition of Intellectual Capital.............................104
Use of Intellectual Capital.....................................105
Persistence and Intellectualism.................................109
Acquisition of Intellectual Capital........
Use of Intellectual Capital..............
Summary of the Cases.......................
Implications for Future Research.........
A. LEADERSHIP SURVEY.........................
B. SELECTOR GRID.............................
C. GRAND TOUR INTERVIEW INTERVIEW #1.......
D. PRINCIPAL INTERVIEW GUIDE INTERVIEW #2 ...
E. STRUCTURED INTERVIEW GUIDE................
F. START LIST OF CODES.......................
G. START LIST OF CODES WORKING DEFINTIONS
I could never have completed a project of this magnitude without the love
and support of my family. My children, Steven and Kiely, have never known
their father when he was not a doctoral student! Fortunately, they were not
too interested in my dissertation and so gave me many opportunities to get
away from it all and enjoy being a dad. My wife, Suzanne, did know what was
going on, and without her support I could never have made it though this
study. She carried more than her share of the parenting burden as well as
helping me get though the tough times. My parents, Ann Gordon and Richard
Henry Webster, gave me support and encouragement throughout my
graduate school career. Many thanks for their belief in me and their lifelong
commitment to all their children.
This type of research requires the involvement of many people. I
appreciate the amount of time each principal gave us. Despite their
demanding lives, they all were enthusiastic participants in the study and more
than generous with their time and their insights. I learned much about being
an excellent principal from each of them. Their helpful attitude carried over to
the staff at each school. Many thanks to the numerous staff and community
members who met me for interviews at coffee shops, in their homes and at
school. I would also like to give a special thanks to Shari Wilkins and Mark
Donovan who piloted the first interview guides. It seems like a long time ago!
Our selection process called for a number of people to provide feedback
about our sample population. I was constantly delighted by their generosity
and insight. They were an integral part of a larger process and helped point
us in the right direction.
Perhaps some doctoral students are capable of handling their own typing
and data entry needs. I am not one of those! Without the help of two
wonderful people ~ Bev Steinbach and Mary Lynn Christel -- these words
would never have made it onto the printed page. Their countless hours of
work, attention to detail and positive attitude made this work much easier.
Every graduate student should be blessed with such good people to take care
of the transcribing, typing and correcting.
I would like to thank each member of our committee. Alan Davis was
instrumental in helping me develop and work with the methodology. Steve
Del Castillo provided insights into leadership and specific information about
the MLQ. Nancy Sanders asked the questions which made me stop and think
about what I was really doing at those times when I fell into an auto pilot
mode. I wish Rod Muth had been with us from the beginning, but his fresh
critique and close proofreading proved to be invaluable. Last, but never least,
thanks to Mike Murphy who never gave up on me, and balanced support and
encouragement with letting me make my own decisions and mistakes. I knew
Mike was available any time, day or night, and probably learned as much from
chewing things over with him as from all of my literature review. He was a
perfect chair and instrumental in this work getting started and finished.
I would never have finished this work without my research partner and
collaborator, Darlene LeDoux. She kept me on task when I wandered and
lifted my spirits when they flagged. I cannot imagine how people do this type
of work without such a friend and colleague. Thanks for everything!
I apologize to anybody whom I may have overlooked. I have received so
much help from so many people, and am sure I don't even appreciate how
much some people truly did for me. Thanks to all of you.
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 Governor's 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
requires schools and colleges to educate all students effectively. Third,
public education is a big business. "On the average, states invest
1 Sections of this chapter were co-authored with Darlene LeDoux. Those sections are identical in both
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 the reality is that a principal's time is 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.
Administrators were 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, 1985a ; 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-improving the technical, instructional
activities through close monitoring of teachers' and students' classroom
work whereas 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 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
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 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
Burns (1978). He 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 your 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, New Yorker, 1983)
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 transactional leader will be the same
people in different circumstances. The followers of a transformational leader
will be different people over time than if they had not been part of that
relationship. The former has changed the degree of an already existing
circumstance; the latter has changed the quality of the circumstances
Transformational leadership incorporates many aspects of other
leadership theories. The crucial difference lies in the conceptualization of a
leader as one who fundamentally changes followers, even to the point that
they become 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" (Burns, 1978, p. 20).
How does transformational leadership differ from charismatic
leadership? Burns redefines charismatic leadership as heroic leadership (p.
244). The fundamental difference between transformational and heroic
leadership is that "no true relationship exists between [heroic leaders] and
the spectators no relationship characterized by deeply held motives,
shared goals, rational conflict, and lasting influence in the form of change"
(Burns, p. 248).
Bass' (1985a) initial studies found that transformational and transactional
leadership 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.
Intellectual Leadership and Intellectual Capital
In his discussion of intellectual leadership, which he equates with
transforming leadership, Burns (1978, p.142) points out the leader's use of
the ideas and intellectual resources available to him. He uses the term
'intellectual capital' (p. 151) to describe this phenomenon. In his description
of transformational political leaders, Burns emphasizes that they are either
intellectual leaders themselves or take advantage of intellectual leaders to
address the problems of the day.
Bass (1985) identified three factors which followers described as being
present in leaders who functioned in a transformational way. These were
charismatic leadership, individual consideration and intellectual stimulation.
The last of these is similar to Burns' view of intellectual leadership in several
Most important is the distinction between intellectuals and intellectual
leaders. Intellectuals develop and explore ideas for their own sake.
Intellectual leaders use the ideas and information available to them, the
intellectual capital, to inspire and change their followers. They use this
capital for more than abstract analysis of a situation, and apply it directly to
produce the real intended change which is the measure of effective
transformational leadership. Bass uses Marx (intellectual) and Lenin
(intellectual leader) as prime examples of this distinction.
Intellectual leaders are very aware of the importance of developing their
intellectual capital and using it to transform their followers. They constantly
search for new ideas and present them to others as alternatives. Not all of
these options will come to fruition, but they are an important part of the
transformational process. Kemal Ataturk, the famous Turkish leader,
pursued the goal of independence by exploring every pathway available,
and considering all possibilities for achieving this goal.
Intellectual capital, which is closely related to intellectual leadership and
intellectual stimulation, is an important factor in transformational leadership.
It provides the leader with new ways of looking at the world and
communicating to followers what that world could become. I will look at this
aspect of transformational leadership intellectual capital in the context of
the principal/leaders in a particular school district.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of my study is to examine how three elementary principals
who are identified as being transformational leaders acquire and use
Scope of the Study
Very little direct study of transformational leadership has been done in
schools (Leithwood, 1993), and none that I am aware of related to
intellectual capital. This exploratory multiple-case study will provide a richer
insight into the thinking and practice of elementary principals who are
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 West Public Schools since the tumultuous 1991-1992 school year. West
Public Schools is a psuedonym used to conseal the true identity of the
school district. 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, and
parents. The principals were interviewed in-depth to determine how they
acquire and use intellectual capital. 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
Collaborative and Creative Nature of This Research
This study was done in collaboration and partnership with Darlene
LeDoux. 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
Several sections of the thesis were authored jointly. These include the
majority of Chapter 1, significant sections of Chapter 2 and all of Chapter 3.
Each of us examined a distinct aspect of transformational leadership. I
chose intellectual capital and Darlene worked on connectedness. Chapters
4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 were written independently.
This collaborative thesis process was both rewarding and demanding.
The support we provided to one another was invaluable as was the
intellectual partnership and stimulation. The process demanded a great
deal of time to organize, create, and communicate. Nonetheless, both of us
agree that the teamwork was meaningful and without it we might not have
successfully completed our theses. At the very least it would have taken
each of us longer to finish as we motivated each other and felt accountable
to our co-worker. We recommend this type of collaboration for others
provided that the partners are compatible and the university is willing to
consider such a collaboration.
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 intellectual capital. 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. In Chapter 8, I summarize the findings
and present 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 (1989)
"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 Sections of this chapter were co-authored with Darlene LeDoux. Those sections are identical in both
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) 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 individuals" (p.
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 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 leader's 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 (Maslow, 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 leaders 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, Burns (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, Franklin Delano
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 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 modem 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, Burns (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)
Burns (1978) presented transactional and transformational leadership as
being mutually exclusive. Bass (1985a) 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 than concrete applications of transformational leadership have
been reported. Bums 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 took the theory and operationalized it through a series of studies.
Bass began with a pilot study of "70 male senior industrial executives,"
(Bass, 1985a). This reinforced the concepts Bass had about
transformational leadership, but did not provide hard data about how
transformational leaders functioned.
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 HI); 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).
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. He summarized his findings as follows.
To conclude, we have shown in these quantitative studies that
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. In
contrast to Burns (1978), Bass (1985a) does not see transformational
leadership as necessarily being moral leadership. "Transformational
leaders can be immoral if they create changes based on false images that
cater to the fantasies of constituencies" (Bass, 1985b). 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 in schools.
Since 1990, Leithwood 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
Burns (1978), Bass (1985), and others (p. 3). The latter meaning is the one
most relevant to this dissertation.
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 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 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).
Without forgetting the importance of transformational leadership for the
heart, we will now turn our attention to the head -- intellectual leadership.
Burns (1978) delineated how intellectual leadership works in the arena of
politics. His statement of the ultimate standard, or test, for intellectual
leadership can be applied to other arenas -- such as education. That test is
the capacity to conceive values or purpose in such a way that ends and
means are linked analytically and creatively and that the implications of
certain values ... are clarified. The test is one of transforming power" (p.
163). Transformational leaders in the education arena will also be able to
meet this standard.
Burns (1978) drew a clear distinction between intellectuals and
intellectual leadership. The intellectual is "a person concerned critically with
values, purposes, ends that transcend immediate practical needs" (p. 141).
Intellectual leaders deal with both analytical and normative ideas and they
bring both to bear on their environment" (p. 142). He notes that the
intellectual may choose to be uninvolved with society, but the intellectual
leader cannot be" (p. 141). He concludes by stating strongly, but simply,
intellectual leadership is transforming leadership" (p. 142).
Prior to Burns, others had identified intellectual leaders as one category
of leaders. Levine (1949) classified leaders as being either charismatic,
organizational, intellectual, or informal. Oliverson (1976) also placed
leaders into four categories technical, charismatic, caring-interpersonal
and peer-oriented. He saw the technical leader as someone who used a
cognitive approach. Bass (1990) summarized studies done before 1948
and between 1948 and 1970 which looked for evidence of intelligence as a
trait which was related to leadership ability. He found "25 reports of a
positive relationship between leadership, intelligence and ability" (p. 83)
were published in the latter period. "The average correlation of .28 in the
1948 survey was corroborated in the 1970 survey" (p. 83).
High intelligence, as measured by standard IQ tests, is often correlated
with leadership (Bass, 1990). At the same time many researchers have
noted that if there is too great a gap between the intelligence of the leader
and the followers, the leader's effectiveness will diminish. "Leadership
potential, in general, goes with being 'smart, but not too smart' (Riley and
Flowerman, 1951) (Bass, 1985a, p. 104).
The importance of the intellectual aspect of transformational leadership is
also highlighted in Bass' (1985a) work. He named intellectual stimulation as
one of the three factors of transformational leadership based upon his
experimental studies. His extended definition of intellectual stimulation is
illuminating for this study.
By the transformational leader's intellectual stimulation we mean the
arousal and change in followers of problem awareness and problem
solving, of thought and imagination, and of beliefs and values rather
than arousal and change in immediate action. The intellectual
stimulation of the transformational leader is seen in the discrete jump
in the followers' conceptualization, comprehension, and discernment
of the problems they face and their solutions.. .. Intellectual in the
sense of scholarly is not necessarily implied, (p. 99)
With Burns, Bass provides the essential conceptual framework for my
dissertation. In this definition we see much of the basis for the grounded
theory which guided the research. The transformational leader focuses
followers on problems and problem solving, promotes thinking and
imagining, and arouses a new awareness in them.
Bass (1985a) encapsulates the importance of intellectual stimulation to
transformational leadership with several quotes from his research. His
ideas have forced me to rethink some of my own ideas which I had never
questioned before" (p. 100). "He enables me to think about old problems in
new ways" (p. 100). He goes on to discuss the importance of symbols and
images for transformational leadership. "The intellectual contribution of the
transformational leader is seen in the leaders creation, interpretation, and
elaboration of symbols" (p. 108). Bass (1990) pointed to the need for further
research on how leaders use intellectual stimulation to "simplify problems
and to get to the crux of complex matters while the rest of the crowd is still
trying to identify the problem" (p. 902). He termed this "rapid reification" (p.
Finally, Bass (1985a) wrote that he agreed with others that "the
intellectual contribution of a leader is particularly important when groups and
organizations face ill-structured rather than well-structured problems"
(Mitroff, 1978, p. 102). Burns (1978) also pointed this out, and both could
have been describing the day-to-day reality of most large, urban public
school districts in doing so.
When it comes to the application of transformational leadership theory to
educational settings, Leithwood, as noted above, is the acknowledged
authority. Leithwood (1994) also believes that, Transformational
approaches to school leadership are especially appropriate to the
challenges facing schools now and through the remainder of the decade" (p.
Leithwood (1992) found that transformational school leaders are in more
or less continuous pursuit of three fundamental goals (p. 9). Two of these
are closely related to intellectual stimulation, fostering teacher
development; and .helping them solve problems together more effectively*
Leithwood (1994) has since done a number of quantitative and
qualitative studies, and drawn on the work of others, which he summarizes
in his recent paper. His findings on how intellectual stimulation is
manifested by transformational school leaders were very specific. Such
- directly challenge staffs' basic assumptions about their work as well
as unsubstantiated or questionable beliefs or practices
- encourages/persuades staff to try new practices without using
- encourages staff to evaluate their practices and refine them as
- stimulates the search for and discussion of new ideas and information
relevant to school directions
- attends conferences and seeks out many sources of new ideas and
passes them along to staff
- seeks out new ideas by visiting other schools
- publicly recognizes exemplary performance
- invites teachers to share their expertise with their colleagues (p. 33).
Leithwood thus gives us some concrete indicators of the intellectual
dimension of transformational leaders in schools. I will use these as I
examine the data from three case studies. First, however, I will close this
chapter with a discussion of intellectual capital -- the focus of my research.
Becker (1964) points out that one can invest in oneself through
education, for example, and hope to reap a profit based on that investment.
Burns (1978) refers to intellectual leaders of the Seventeenth Century as
"exploiting] the intellectual capital of many centuries of hard thought" (p.
151). However, specific references to intellectual capital are not prevalent in
the literature on transformational leadership.
Descriptions of how transformational principals get things done are more
common. These often include how these principals use ideas, often in ways
congruent with Leithwood's (1994) list above. Sagor (1992) tells the story of
three principals who constantly push for improvement. One principal did this
by "using some data ... to raise perplexing questions. The meetings would
then take on a tone of excited inquiry ... Then, without hesitation, [the
principal] would grant whatever support was requested" (p. 14).
Fullan (1991) also reinforces Leithwood's (1994) findings with his
description of a principal in rural Ontario. In terms of intellectual stimulation
this principal took teachers to summer workshops, worked with teachers to
develop new instructional techniques, and had teachers do research in
small groups and share the results with the entire staff.
These are examples of the use of intellectual capital to provide
intellectual stimulation to followers. I will look for further evidence of how this
is done in the three case studies.
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 events. 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
1 This chapter was written collaboratively by Armistead Webster and Darlene LeDoux. 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) ,
the pseudonym for an urban school district west of the Mississippi.. We give
information about the school district and its recent history. We then present
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, and document analysis.
We close the chapter with sections describing the coding process and the
analysis of the data that we collected.
West Public Schools
Following is a brief sketch of the school district in which the three case
studies were conducted. West Public Schools 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 cannot 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 meet properly 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. They were in
positions of leadership in the central administration or as elementary
principals (Inside Selectors). 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 the district.
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 (1985a). 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).
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
intellectual capital and connectedness.
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 was 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 also 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 topics
(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.
Each of the three principals selected for in-depth study was 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 Principal Interviews 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 full 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
We developed a structured interview guide 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 not pilot this guide. 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 to provide 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 or 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 units of data analysis were 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
We transcribed each interview, read, re-read, and then coded the
transcript. To organize this process we used a software program named
HyperQual (Padilla, 1991), 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
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 interviews. We also used outside auditors, doctoral
students, and a professor of educational administration, to provide feedback
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 dissertation. 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.
Murphey is an elementary school for children from Early Childhood
Education classes through 5th grade. About 450 students, all of whom live
within walking distance of the school, attend Murphey. The building is
relatively old, the main section having been built in the early 1900's, with
some remodeling and additions currently in progress. It is located in a
lower-middle-class residential neighborhood of single family homes. Most
of the students are Hispanic and about half of the classes are bilingual.
Karen Marx ( not ehr real name) has been the principal of Murphey for
nine years. She has a teacher who functions as an assistant principal and a
staff of 25 teachers and 18 support personnel. Even when she is sitting,
Karen seems possessed of great energy. She is outgoing, personable, and
appears relaxed even when external circumstances dictate otherwise. Her
office has several comfortable overstuffed chairs, as if to invite visitors to take
their time. Externally, her trademark is her hats she seems to have an
infinite selection to match her mood and wardrobe. In a district where
principals adhere to an unstated dress code which features conservative
attire, Karen is obviously comfortable about going outside the boundaries of
what is accepted generally.
Her staff clearly think highly of Karen. Upon being told at a faculty
meeting that one reason their school had been chosen for study was
because of the researchers' belief that they had an excellent principal, they
broke into spontaneous and sustained applause. In subsequent interviews
they affirmed their belief that she is an outstanding leader with statements
like, "She really has good leadership" (Informant #1; 6/10/93), "Karen is a
good leader" (Informant #2; 6/11/93), and "I think it [her leadership] is
wonderful" (Informant #4; 6/16/93).
In meetings Karen is treated with respect, but not awe. She participates
in discussions as an equal partner, even though it is obvious that her words
and ideas carry great weight. The researchers conducted on-site
observations, document analysis, and especially interviews with Karen, her
staff, and members of the school community over a period of 7 months.
From this a clear picture emerged of how she acquires and uses ideas to
bring about the changes she envisions as a transformational leader.
The rest of this chapter relates how one particular change has taken
place at Murphey ES, and the leadership role that Karen Marx played in
bringing about that change. I then lay out some themes which have
emerged from my analysis of how she has acquired and used intellectual
capital. I have identified these as Seeker of Knowledge, Planter of Seeds,
Questioner, Flag Waver, Spotlight Shiner, and Analyzer. Finally I will
discuss two characteristics of Karen Marx which are germane to how she
uses intellectual capital persistence and intellectualism.
Critical Thinking: How It Came to Murohev ES
The focus for staff development at Murphey for four years has been
critical thinking. Critical thinking is a problem solving approach to thinking
which children (and adults) can apply to any curricular area. It emphasizes
asking higher order questions and taking different points of view to analyze
issues and problems.
Staff development on how to teach critical thinking has been pursued to
an incredible degree for an elementary school. Initially, a team of three
teachers and the principal went to a summer seminar in California. The
principal gathered resource material, primarily in article form and, over the
course of a year, every teacher read and reported back to the staff on at least
The next year, they met every other week to discuss a textbook on critical
thinking. Every teacher had a copy of the textbook. These conversations
were led by a university professor, and were still primarily focused on the
theoretical concepts of critical thinking. The third year they actually moved
into implementation. Again, they met every other week to share ideas on
designing lessons and how to evaluate the success of critical thinking. This
was done with the help of a teacher from another district who was an expert
on critical thinking.
All of this clearly came about as a result of the principals efforts. "It came
from ... Dr. Marx because she brought the whole concept of critical thinking
to us as an idea* (Informant # 6; 10/18/93). Karen scouted most of that stuff
[books and articles] and people took advantage of it" (Informant #1; 6/10/93).
Karen has nurtured a dedication to intensive study in her staff for such a long
time that they accept it as part of the normal routine in school. Even when the
work is demanding, teachers have a positive attitude about it. One teacher
enthused, The textbook is great. It is thick, and it's really difficult reading at
times, but it's really a comprehensive study on what critical thinking is
(Informant #2; 6/11/93).
Having decided that critical thinking should be a focus in the school,
Karen went about educating herself and this staff by using experts, both in
person and through books. This process took place over an extended
period of time and led to the staff becoming 'experts' themselves. This led
them to learn from each other, and to develop their own ideas about critical
thinking. "We did a lot of research ... probably a year of doing research, and
then teams of teachers would report back to the faculty. So we did a lot of
research before we actually started to do any of that in the building"
(Informant #1; 6/10/93).
We purchased the critical thinking textbooks and some other
materials. We did a lot of reading and discussing the first year to
define to ourselves what critical thinking was. (Informant #2; 6/11/93) I
I learned about [critical thinking] through discussions, through faculty
discussions. I really enjoyed some of the philosophical discussions
we had. (Informant #4; 6/16/93)
Their progress as a staff followed that of their principal and leader. She
looked to experts to acquire knowledge, and then used this foundation to
stimulate the discussion and wonderment" (to use one of Karen's favorite
words) which lead to real changes in the school. Karen planned out this
progression very consciously from the initial exposure of a few teachers at a
seminar, to all teachers reading and sharing articles, to the use of an expert
to guide them through a textbook, and then another expert to facilitate
discussions of how to apply what they had learned in the classroom. All of
this was written into their state-mandated school goals, and has been a
constant aspect of life in the school for four years.
A similar process was used previously in other areas and also served to
provide some of the initial impetus to focus on critical thinking, even before it
was named as a topic of interest. School-level design teams were routinely
used to address concerns and questions about education. These teams did
research, discussed issues, and reported back to the staff as a whole. This
was done within the framework of the Onward to Excellence (OTE) school-
improvement program, but was continued even after the school district
officially scrapped that approach to school governance and moved to the
Joint Governing Team model. Karen and the teachers clearly felt that the
OTE teams worked well, and they served as an avenue for acquiring and
sharing intellectual capital.
Everybody was [involved.] It was great... That was really fun, we had
a good time with that. .. We would get into these small groups, have
these discussions, bring them back to the faculty. (Informant #5;
Now, in the fourth year of focusing on critical thinking, a major emphasis
has been on analyzing the results. All classrooms were videotaped early in
the school year to provide a baseline for how well the children were using
critical thinking skills. These tapes were analyzed by the teacher and a
colleague. Toward the end of the current year, they plan to videotape each
classroom again for comparison to the initial tape.
Following is a discussion of various themes related to Karens acquisition
and use of intellectual capital.
Seeker of Knowledge
As she did with critical thinking, Karen makes a conscious effort to be
well informed about education in general and about ideas which she feels
will be relevant for her school. This is also an important part of her life
outside of school. For example, she and her husband have adopted a child
with special needs, and she has "spent a lot of time learning about those
kinds of things and reading articles about emotional disturbances" [his
special needs] ( Karen Marx; 3/12/93).
At work, Karen makes a point of targeting specific areas in which she
tries to gain more knowledge, as well as challenging her preconceived
notions. She has little tolerance for spending time doing things which she
does not see as being related to her vision for the school. She seems to
always be thinking of ways to transform her vision into reality. One of
Karens favorite words is "wondering." She describes herself as constantly
wondering about the world, about education, about children and about
herself. She is never satisfied that she has learned "all there is to know" and
reads a great deal (though not as much as she would like). She is always
on the lookout for conferences and workshops to attend. Most of what she
knows on a particular topic is learned from experts and colleagues. Karen
has little patience for wasting time on such activities.
I have to believe that whoever is going to be guiding the conversation
will be outstanding. I will walk out, I don't have tolerance ... for
something that is meaningless. Obviously it would have to be
connected to what's driving my life. ( Karen Marx; 3/12/93)
She relies on colleagues to provide her with leads on good sources of
information and uses her colleagues for this purpose. She does not pick up
ideas casually, nor originate them from herself, although she clearly
analyzes and adapts what she learns.
One of her personal frustrations is that more staff members do not seem
to share her endless curiosity about education, and the world. She seeks to
instill her own restless sense of wonderment in those around her. For a
variety of reasons she does not feel she has been successful in doing so.
She seems to sense that this is a next step for her and her staff.
I am always a little curious as to how I still haven't gotten to the point
of getting the wondering of each of the staff members to where I had
hoped they would be after such time. It is real curious and I don't
know why that is. (Karen Marx; 4/19/93)
Karen is working toward a similar goal with the JGT. She sees them as
currently being at a point of think tanking, coming together... to talk about
our vision, what we want the school to be for kids ( Karen Marx; 10/7/93).
Planter of Seeds
The use of ideas to excite others is closely related to Karens belief in the
importance of words. Karen works hard to develop a common vocabulary to
facilitate the conversation and wondering which she values so highly. She
delights in words as tools to share ideas and chooses her words carefully. I
see this deliberate process of building a shared vocabulary and conceptual
framework as analogous to planting seeds." The specific goal is clear from
the beginning, but it may take some time to get there.
For instance, Karen bought two textbooks on critical thinking for all staff
members, and then made sure they were used through the twice monthly
after school conversations. This led to the development of a shared
vocabulary which contributed to the course of real change which Karen had
Karen plans such presentation of ideas very consciously and
deliberately. She identifies a need, develops a preliminary plan of action,
and then stimulates conversation and discussion to move in that direction.
Critical thinking. Those are things that I analyze [ahead of time] and
seed thoughts so that thoughts get generated from the group. It gets
generated from the group because I seed it. The topic is placed for
conversation and wonderment because of prior analysis. ( Karen
This same understanding of Karen's role in seeding ideas and bringing
them to fruition was voiced by various teachers, such as the following,
Some teachers really voiced a need for it [critical thinking] after Karen
initiated the conversation. It ...came from Karen with teachers buying into it
(Informant #5; 7/27/93). And, "she brought the whole concept of critical
thinking to us as an idea, and I also went to a training session and met the
author of the book" (Informant #11; 10/18/93).
Another example of this was during the districts tense labor
negotiations. Karen saw a need to bring the staff closer together during an
emotional time for the district as a whole. She "seeded the structure of the
conversation" (Karen Marx; 3/12/93) and came to the JGT with ideas to bring
people together. As a result, the JGT and staff undertook several activities to
help boost morale and relieve stress, including an after school get-together
at Karen's house and question and answer sessions with the staff, Karen
and the JGT.
Karen is planting seeds which she and the staff know won't even be
discussed for a year to come. After three years of intensive work, the focus
on critical thinking is winding down. Karen has begun discussion with
teachers about the importance of improving the bilingual program at the
school. As one teacher put it;
As the critical thinking piece ends this year, next year that [ bilingual
education] would be a wonderful focus. This year we're over-
booked, which is a reality, but next year that would be a great focus
and let's plan towards that. Were all ready for, you know, 12 months
down the road, where should we be and what should we be trying to
do. (Informant # 9; 10/5/93)
Based on the literature one would expect that transformational leaders
would use intellectual capital to challenge people. Karen does not push her
ideas on people in an authoritarian, one-way conversation. Rather, she
constantly raises questions and seeks answers in a two-way dialogue. This
process of raising questions and seeking answers is both internal, and also
something she expects from others. As one teacher put it, "What can we do
better for the kids? It's always the question" (Informant #4; 6/16/93). Or, in
Karen's words, "Sometimes they are frustrated because they are forced to
look at questions that they may not have thought of, but we will stick it out
together" (Karen Marx; 3/12/93).
Karen challenges herself regularly. She muses, questions, and wonders
daily. When other activities demand so much time that she cannot, then she
feels as if an important part of herself has been lost. She seeks to instill that
same questioning and wondering in her staff. She does this by modeling,
challenging them, and never letting up. Karen clearly believes in the use of
intellectual capital to challenge people and to change their views of children
The questioning described above is derived in part from the concept of
using intellectual capital symbolically to get people moving in a given
direction. The concept of transforming individuals through the use of ideas
is also related to questioning, but is a far more subtle action, and not as easy
to pick up. More than any particular change by a given teacher is the
transformation of the staff as a whole into a group of thinkers who see
themselves as experts. "What she instills in people, and what she has
instilled in me, is that I think about what I am saying and then I reflect on it"
(Informant #11; 10/18/93). No one doubts that Karen's leadership, through
the ways described above, has led teachers at Murphey school to believe
that they can think deeply about education, identify problems, analyze
possible solutions and implement and evaluate a particular plan. This may
sound like what should happen in any school or organization, but it is
actually rare in practice. Several teachers can express quite clearly how
Karen has changed them and their approach to education:
This year the questions were again, "What's next? What's the next
step?" And we thought more about that philosophically and
theoretically. We [decided we] need to be doing this (Informant #4;
The research that I did, which I presented, and some of what other
people did,... that stuck with me (Informant #3; 6/14/93).
This transforming process is long and slow, but one which Karen realizes
is essential if real change at her school is to be sustained. After 9 years of
being principal, she has had time to transform the thinking and behavior of
the teachers and community at large. As an intellectual leader, she risks
being seen as someone who is apart from others. Karen has kept this from
happening by bringing in others to be the experts, and by helping the staff
develop a sense of themselves as experts and thinkers in their own right.
She has heightened the use of intellectualism in the school to the point that
teachers do not question the importance of ideas, of developing the
theoretical basis for practical activities, and are willing to take the time to
discuss ideas as a way of bringing about change.
Related to the use of intellectual capital to challenge people, and often
preceding it chronologically, is the use of ideas to excite people to pursue a
particular plan of action. This symbolic use of intellectual capital was
identified by Bass (1985a, p. 107) in his discussion of intellectual
stimulation. Karen uses ideas to excite staff members very consciously and
clearly sees this as an important part of her leadership role.
I am probably one of the better reflective thinkers on this staff and they
look to me for having done some of that homework. They expect it. I
define part of my role as that too. It's not, Here, you're going to do it,
but, 'Here's an idea, let's talk about it and see what other ideas you
have been thinking of.' ( Karen Marx; 3/5/93)
I think it was her leadership. I think that she made the decision and
that people went with it. (Informant #3; 6/14/93)
This role is not one of coercing people, but rather laying out the path to
follow and garnering support for that path through the use of ideas and
conversation. Karen consciously rallies people around the flag of her vision
for the school. At least one member of the JGT saw this as the reason she
wanted to take that group on a retreat. "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 and those that were still there, try to get everyone on the
same page" (Informant #9; 10/5/93).
This encouragement of staff and others to focus on and develop their
skills in particular areas was described as happening before the JGT and
critical thinking. "The staff chose the improvement area and she encouraged
the staff to choose. She encouraged the staff to explore and do the thinking
and research" (Informant #7; 10/18/93).
Karen uses her intellectual capital to shine the spotlight, to focus others
on a particular idea or course of action. Teachers see Karen as doing this
both directly and indirectly.
Karen is real bright, real articulate, and will pretty much talk about the
focus of the school. Where if you are in the classroom you don't look
at the focus of the school. (Informant #4; 6/16/93)
Some teachers really voiced a need for it [critical thinking] after Karen
initiated the conversation. It came from Karen with teachers buying
into it. (Informant #5; 7/27/93)
Whether directly or indirectly Karen uses ideas symbolically to shine the
spotlight on what she believes the school needs. In her own words, "I will
push this staff on a daily basis towards higher levels of critical thought"
(Karen Marx; 10/7/93). It is impossible to discuss Karens acquisition of
intellectual capital apart from her influence on the staff in this regard. Just as
she relies on experts and colleagues, so has she developed that same
approach to knowledge among the teachers.
Teachers believe that Karen is exceptionally bright and see her as an
expert in critical thinking. Over the years they have been studying critical
thinking they have come to see themselves as experts as well. They have
"bought in" to critical thinking. Most teachers acknowledge that it is the
principal's leadership which has made this happen. She is viewed as the
person with the big picture in mind, who gradually brings others to see the
same picture. This is another example of Karen using intellectual capital to
"shine the spotlight."
Whether the staff on their own would have said, 'Let's pursue it, let's
meet twice a month, and have someone come in, and let's have to
read this intense book,' it probably would not have happened.
(Informant #7; 10/7/93)
There needs to be somebody to give a gentle push, to say this is
where we need to be going. A good leader ...does that. I think Karen
does that in a very good way. (Informant #4; 6/19/93)
Karen chose not to lead the bimonthly meetings on critical thinking,
although both she and the staff felt she had the expertise and knowledge to
do so. She preferred to participate as one member of the group.
The long-term approach to staff development which I described at the
beginning of the chapter is rare in an elementary school. It reflects the value
Karen places on ideas and thinking. Karen uses ideas as a vehicle to
challenge teachers constantly. She is relentless in her pursuit of positive
changes for the benefit of the students in the school. Both she and staff
members regularly use the word push in describing how she interacts with
. .. teachers will see her pushing at times, and she does... she has to,
to get people to make things happen. (Informant #5; 7/27/93)
You have to be so open to hearing, and listening to taking
opportunities to push people. (Karen Marx; 3/5/93)
I know there are some things that the teachers have not been real
happy with ... but Karen felt like that was a very important thing in
education and she pushed. (Informant #6; 6/23/93)
She will push people to get them unstuck in their thinking. (Informant
While the critical thinking program at Murphey developed over a number
of years, some evidence shows that Karen also uses rapid reification to
promote critical thinking among the staff. This is also a spotlight shining
activity, but one that takes place in a short period of time. 'Rapid reification'
is a term Bass (1990) coined as he worked to operationalize Burns theory of
transformational leadership. It refers to the use of intellectual capital to
conceptualize and frame a problem quickly.
Karen tries to let others discover ideas and make plans on their own, but
at times moves in and pushes teachers to "see the light." At one point during
the third year of the school's work on critical thinking she felt that teachers
were not appreciating the importance of gathering baseline data on critical
thinking. She had a clear idea of how this should work.
I bring the notions and see how far we can move the thinking, and in
the absence of that [I] create the specifics around what the feedback
is.... Part of the trick is making it simple and complex at the same time.
Getting to complexity in a way that is pretty easy. I think I am pretty
good at that. (Karen Marx; 4/11/93)
Rapid reification is very much a "sense making" use of intellectual capital.
When people are having trouble putting the pieces together Karen will use
her ideas and discussion to help them see what she believes they need to
be doing and help them find a way to move ahead.
She's real clear in what she believes and will take time to explain her
philosophical beliefs She's real knowledgeable in the things she
believes in and she's done research, but then she brings it back to
real life... The things that she says ... make sense. A lot of time
[teachers] say, "I cant try this because I don't see how it is going to
change anything," and the kinds of things she has presented make
sense. (Informant #3, 6/16/93)
You translate them [ideas]. First you have to put them into a
framework. What sense does it make and does it have relevance to
help whatever situation the school, community is in to go to the next
level. (Informant #4; 6/16/93)
Karen sees this sense making as important and useful for teachers who
are struggling with particular ideas. She has such a clear vision of what is
good for the school, and focus on how to achieve that vision, that she can
readily engage teachers in conversations which help them grasp ideas and
make use of them.
Again, Karen does not see words and ideas as important only for their
own sake. They are essential tools for analyzing problems, developing
solutions, and ultimately transforming people. Karen is very explicit about
the use of ideas to analyze the world around her. For instance, each of the
past six summers she has gone on a retreat with her leadership team. A
primary reason for the retreat is to '"reassess" and "analyze."
The first step is for Karen to do her own analysis, and then to use her
ideas to promote analysis from the group. She relishes this stage of the
group process. Karen loves thinking about, discussing and dealing with
ideas in their purest form. She then uses her analysis of ideas to move
others in the direction she has set.
I do tremendous analysis all the time. Analyzing people interactions,
large groups, small groups, individuals. It is a constant analysis and
through that comes what is chosen to be talked about. That will
structure faculty agendas. (Karen Marx; 3/12/93)
The sequence is clear. Karen analyzes the situation. She then lays the
groundwork for others to do their own analysis within the framework she has
set up. Finally, she works with others to help them do their own analysis.
I think that Dr. Marx is a firm believer in research and development
before you start implementing. It was really interesting, that part of it
[analyzing how to apply critical thinking in the classroom]. (Informant
Once the focus is on classroom activities, there is no less importance
attached to analysis. The staff developed, with Karen's input, a system for
assessing the effectiveness of critical thinking in their classrooms.
To get our kids and thus our adult staff at the highest level of critical
thought we've got to be real knowledgeable, and critiqueful, and
thoughtful. We've spent most of September video taping classrooms
and sitting with teachers, talking about critical thought through
Socratic dialogue. (Karen Marx; 10/7/93)
In conjunction with this analysis, and separate from the summer retreat
described above, Karen spent a great deal of time over the summer on "data
profiling." The type of data necessary to analyze the effectiveness of the
critical thinking program is not available from the school district. Therefore,
Karen sees it as essential to develop "hard data" at the school level "to
gauge how close we are getting with our critical thinking."
A characteristic of Karen is her persistence. The idea of relentlessly
pursuing and following up is always present. Having decided on a course of
action, she keeps at it with individuals and the staff as a whole year after
She really has stayed focused and has had faculties stay focused. It
wasnt something we started two years ago and has just kind of
dwindled away. (Informant #1; 6/16/93)
This characteristic was brought up by most of the teachers interviewed.
They felt that Karens persistence was something which made a difference
for the school.
Karen Marx is very much an intellectual in the purest form of the word.
Ideas interest and excite her for their own sake. I need intellectualism ... on
a daily basis" (Karen Marx; 3/12/93). She has a restless mind which
constantly examines all sides of a question for the sake of intellectual rigor.
"I like to seek out opposing points of view" (Karen Marx; 3/5/93).
She has a doctorate, although she does not go out of her way to remind
people of this. She is aware that this characteristic has an impact on her
I value thinking and work, so ideas are important to me. Sometimes
they are frustrated because they are forced to look at questions they
may not have thought of, but we stick it out together. ( Karen Marx;
This intellectualism goes beyond an abstract interest in ideas. Karen is
what Bass calls an intellectual leader someone who uses ideas to achieve
specific and intentional purposes.
Karen Marx is both an intellectual and a leader. She seeks out ideas
and delights in exploring them for their own sake. This includes both ideas
in the field of education and from outside the field. She has a doctorate, and
seeks to gain more knowledge from almost any source available. She
particularly values input from colleagues and looks to them for
recommendations about conferences, seminars and the like.
Karen has transmitted this inquiring attitude to her staff through example
and through the staff development activities she designs for the school. The
focus on critical thinking was not the first long term staff development project
undertaken at Murphey. Karen has already planted the seeds for them to
begin working next year on improving the bilingual education program.
Karen's modeling of the value of ideas begins with her constant use of
the verb "wonder." She regularly wonders with individual staff members and
with the staff as a whole. One of her frustrations is the feeling that her sense
of wonderment about the world has not taken root with the staff. She would
like to see them as fellow wonderers.
Karen has consciously set about creating a think tank attitude at the
school. As a result, both the staff and the JGT undertake think tank type
activities. The entire approach to critical thinking was to develop a high level
of abstract expertise by teachers before they even began to implement a
critical thinking approach in their classes. Karen is trying to create the same
sense on the JGT.
This use of intellectual capital to develop others as thinkers is intellectual
stimulation in the sense that Bass (1985a) defines it. Karen accomplishes
this in part through the long term process of planting seeds. She
purposefully plants ideas and lets others mull them over. Eventually some of
those ideas become the focus for the entire school as happened with
Along with this seed planting process Karen uses her intellectual capital
to analyze situations. Based on this analysis she makes decisions on how
to proceed. She definitely does this consciously and with forethought.
Although I used it above, the following quote is worth repeating as the
paradigmatic statement of how this process works.
Those are the things that I analyze [ahead of time] and seed thoughts
so that thoughts get generated from the group. It gets generated from
the group because I seed it. The topic is placed for conversation and
wonderment because of prior analysis. (Karen Marx; 4/11/93)
From Bass (1985) we expected to find the use of intellectual capital to
challenge others. Karen did this through her role as questioner. The
evidence strongly bears out her pushing people to 'think beyond the box.'
Karen also applies this process internally through her wondering and
Another aspect of intellectual stimulation and leadership is the symbolic
use of intellectual capital. Some evidence suggests that Karen does this as
the flag-waver.1 It does not seem to constitute a large part of her leadership
style, nor the way she primarily uses intellectual capital.
Karen does use her ideas to bring others' focus to a particular course of
action, (n part she does this by being persistent and pushing. She also
uses "rapid reification" the short term equivalent to planting seeds. This
concept of Bass' (1985a) refers to the use of intellectual capital to
conceptualize and frame a problem quickly. For instance, Karen used rapid
reification to bring teachers to see the need for developing baseline data on
Karen's case provided a rich example of how a transformational leader
develops and uses intellectual capital. She is very comfortable with ideas
and abstract concepts and consciously uses them to accomplish her goal for
the school ~ to make it the best possible place for children to leam.
Ron Daniels is the principal of Greenwood Elementary School. The
school is located in an urban school district and has about 500 students who
come from two distinct neighborhoods. Twenty-nine teachers and a total
staff of about 50 work in the school which is located in a middle class
neighborhood of single family homes. Slightly more than half of the students
live in this neighborhood, and the other students are bused from a less
affluent neighborhood some miles away. Six bilingual classrooms have
children whose first language is Spanish; most are bused to the school.
Greenwood is Ron Daniel's first assignment as a principal after many
years teaching. ( Both the school and principal names are pseudonyms.) He
has been the principal at Greenwood for 6 years. He is an optimistic,
effervescent person with whom people seem to enjoy being. Ron arrives at
school by 7:00 every morning and is often there until 6:00 or 7:00 in the
evening. His staff brag about his work habits and how fortunate they are to
have him as a principal. At the faculty meeting where this research project
was outlined for the staff, they applauded and cheered upon hearing that
Ron was seen as an outstanding principal by the researchers. In interviews
and casual conversations, every staff member spoke highly of him. Parents
also praised Ron as somebody who cares deeply about children and who is
fair, even when they disagree with him. Ron is quite modest about this praise
and routinely deflects it by giving credit to the very people who praise him.
He is quick to credit his teaching staff for any and all good things which
happen at the school.
On various occasions, I observed former students coming back to visit
with Ron. Sometimes these visits were just to say hello, at other times they
were to seek advice or reassurance. Ron would take time for these visits
with no indication of impatience or the need to move on to other business.
He showed the same demeanor in dealing with teachers and parents. While
keeping the conversation focused, Ron never seemed rushed and always
gave the impression that the person he was speaking with, and the matter at
hand, were the most important things that he could possibly be doing.
Perhaps this characteristic is related to much of what follows. Ron is
seen as a much respected and beloved leader who has the best interest of
the school and the children at heart. He is not seen as having, nor does he
profess to have, ambitions to be being anything other than what he is the
principal of an elementary school in a large city school system.
The rest of this chapter tells the story of how two particular changes have
come to Greenwood ES and the role Ron played in that process. From
there, I highlight the themes which were examined in Chapter 4 Seeker of
Knowledge, Planter of Seeds, Questioner, Flag Waver, Spotlight Shiner,
and Analyzer. I continue with a discussion of persistence and
intellectualism. Finally, I draw some conclusions about the acquisition and
use of intellectual capital in this case.
From reading about outstanding schools and then watching a television
series on schools of excellence, Ron began to develop his belief in the
effectiveness of cooperative learning. Ron noticed that cooperative learning
was a common theme in all these schools of excellence. However, Ron did
not come to the staff as a whole and announce that he wanted them all to
pursue cooperative learning. Rather, he led his Joint Governing Team and
then the faculty through the same discovery process he had followed .
So [JGT] could see it, and they bought into it, so I said, OK, what do
you say we go try to work with the staff? I think they made 15 or 20
tapes and asked them to share them among themselves, and then we
are going to talk about it at faculty meeting. I gave them a time limit.
(Ron Daniels; 3/1S/93)
I always wanted to make it look like it wasnt my idea, it was someone
else's idea. That way its easier to buy into if it is your idea or if you
are the one selling it or beating the drum. ( Ron Daniels; 4/29/93)
One way Ron got teachers to feel that this was not his idea alone was to
buy books on cooperative learning and then have a teacher distribute them.
This served both to deflect attention from him and to bring credit and a
positive role to play to the teacher who gave out the books. In this case, that
teacher was someone who was certainly interested in the change Ron
supported. One of his greatest concerns about being interviewed was that
his staff not be aware that he consciously played this role.
During the past three years, cooperative learning has spread extensively
throughout the school. Ron has set up a professional library in the faculty
lounge. The videotapes he made about cooperative learning, along with
various books and articles, are available for teachers to check out. This
library is not decorative -- the materials circulate regularly among the staff.
At this point, most teachers are comfortable with cooperative learning and
use it to some degree in their classroom.
When Ron first came to Greenwood as principal, several teachers were
committed to using a whole language approach to reading and writing. At
first, Ron had some concerns about what they were doing, and he told them
I had reservations because I thought it could be done very well or it
could be the world's worst reading program. I basically told [the
teacher] its fine, well go ahead and do it, but you better be sure you
are getting skills taught. (Ron Daniels; 4/29/93)
During that first year, Ron paid close attention to the two teachers who
were using a whole language approach the most. He discussed it with them
on and off throughout the year. He noticed that some other teachers were
interested in how whole language was used in those two classrooms. At this
point, whole language was not an area of emphasis for the school. In the
words of one of those original teachers,
There wasnt the enthusiasm because people didnt know about it,
and it hadnt been used in the school for very long. So there was the
thought that it wouldnt work. It was just unstructured and it was -- no
one really knew what to look for, or even how to evaluate it.
(Informant #1; 6/7/93)
The following year, Ron and the staff decided to seek the support of a
non-profit educational group. They put together a proposal for the group in
hopes of being chosen as a school to receive training and resources. As
part of their presentation Ron even anticipated the need for a particular
I had written a letter which I knew they were going to request that I
write. I said, Wait a minute, and I will run down to the computer and
get you your letter, which I did. I thought that would seal it. (Ron
However, they were turned down. Rons reaction was to go back to the
non-profit group and press them until they adopted Greenwood as one of the
schools they would work with.
During the next three years, Ron worked alongside his staff to learn
more about whole language and to implement it extensively in the school.
As teaching candidates were interviewed, their experience in this area, or
willingness to learn, were important criteria for being hired.
Ron supported grade-level teams by providing time for teachers to plan
whole language lessons and activities with each other. He and the PE
teacher would take entire grade levels outside for up to 90 minutes at a time
so that teachers could have joint planning time.
As with cooperative learning, Ron has bought books on whole language,
both single and multiple copies, and added them to the professional library
in the lounge. Ron identifies conferences related to cooperative learning
and encourages staff members to go. He pays half their expenses from
school funds. Upon their return they are expected to share what they have
learned with the entire staff. Interestingly, Ron pays his own way to the same
conferences so that more money will be available for teachers.
Greenwood is in the fourth year of emphasizing whole language
schoolwide. Neither Ron, nor the staff, see themselves as having a purely
'whole language school. One grade level still uses a basal reading series
extensively although they bought a series which incorporates some
aspects of whole language. On the whole, however, teachers at Greenwood
use whole language far more extensively than they did prior to Rons arrival.
Seeker of Knowledge
Ron looks primarily to experts and to colleagues, including his staff, to get
ideas about education and teaching. He attends workshops, reads research
and other books related to education, solicits information other staff
members may have learned, and as he puts it, learns by the seat of his
pants. He does not confine his search for ideas to educational circles and
particularly looks to business for ideas which he can apply or adapt to a
school setting. I steal [ideas] from anybody.... if I see something in
business I like, I will try to incorporate it into something" ( Ron Daniels;
Ron is jealous of the time he gives to such activities and has little
tolerance for wasted time, especially when he sees it as time spent "sharing
ignorance" (Ron Daniels; 3/18/93). He feels he does not have as much time
to read as he would like. Conversely, he will willingly take time for
workshops or seminars which he feels are related to the goals of his school
or will help him and his teachers better educate children. This is most
evident in situations where Ron learns alongside his staff.
We started having meetings in classrooms and talking about literature
and that sort of thing. I was learning right along with them and it was
really kind of enjoyable. (Ron Daniels; 4/29/93)
When we had the PEC in the building and we met at noon Ron got
there as often as he could. When we had our before school meetings
with PEC, Ron was there. (Informant #4; 6/15/93)
He also attends. Hes not just sitting back and saying, You can do it.
He attends... .He gets involved with PEC by attending classes.
Learning about it by attending the workshops alongside us. So we
get involved, you know, when we have small group discussions and
that sort of thing. Hes learning right along with us. (Informant #1;
Besides learning along with his staff, Ron also learns from teachers. He
seeks out opportunities to share ideas, and is clearly seen by teachers as
somebody who wants to leam from them. He does not hold himself up to be,
and is not perceived as an "expert." In this sense, he is not an intellectual.
Rather, he is someone whom teachers can learn from through an
interchange of ideas. He credits his ongoing learning in part to staff
[They are] bringing in books and sharing them with me and that sort of
thing. (Ron Daniels; 4/29/93)
Plus I have teachers who bring in articles and .. they will copy it and
give it to me and that sort of thing. Because they do a good job of
trying to educate me. (Ron Daniels; 3/18/93)
A teacher recalls that she was able to change Rons mind about reading,
again showing that he is open to acquiring ideas from staff as well as
My training is in reading and the theory of how children learn to read.
I think back to a time when I tried to explain to him that children learn
to read the same way they learn a language. I have tried to educate
him in those lines. (Informant #4; 6/15/93)
Ultimately, Ron came to support that teachers point of view strongly
enough to spread the word to the rest of the staff. This give and take is an
important part of how Ron develops his ideas on education.
He talks to us about it too. We will go to a speaker and he will say,
Tell me what you learned. Tell me what you think, and, This is what
I think, and we will talk about it. (Informant #1; 6/7/93)
Besides learning from experts and his staff, Ron also leams from other
principals and colleagues. He acquires knowledge and ideas primarily from
these three sources -- experts, colleagues and subordinates.
Ron seems to have a restlessness about seeking out ideas which might
help his school, and the people in it, change for the better. (It is a wonder
that he can sit still at lengthy administrative meetings where he is not getting
such ideas.) He knows that not every idea will come to fruition, and his ego
is not invested in any specific project or approach to education. He is
constantly looking for ideas which, when implemented, will work to help
children learn better. Once a plan has been adopted he uses his restless
energy to see that it is carried out. We will now examine various themes
related to how Ron uses intellectual capital.
Planter of Seeds
That Ron is the source of many transforming ideas in the school was
demonstrated repeatedly, both through his words and those of his teachers.
I worked my way into the thing by salting enough members they in
advance separately. You know how you divide, I dont mean divide
and conquer and get your way, but that was really how it was. I mean
I just took people around and said, You know, weve got quite
decision let me show you what I think. (Ron Daniels; 3/18/93)
Usually the way that I get things started in the building is that I bring it
up once, bring it up twice, bring it up three times. Pretty soon people
start to think that theyre in [on it]. I dont want to make this sound
sneaky. I dont want to all of a sudden walk in and dump something in
their laps and say, We are going to do this. (Ron Daniels; 10/28/93)
I think Ron decided it was a good idea. He sought our approval, he
always seeks our approval, but I think it was his idea. (Informant #9;
This approach was exemplified in Rons decision to have teachers use
more cooperative learning in the classroom. Ron had the original idea, and
led his staff through the same path which he had followed in deciding that
cooperative learning was worth implementing at Greenwood.
This seeding of ideas is related to patience. Ron saw both the transition
towards cooperative learning and the move to whole language as processes
that would take from three to five years. His patience also comes through in
his use of ideas to excite people toward a particular plan of action. He is
willing to take quite some time to seed" the idea, and then provide the
support and resources necessary for it to grow to fruition. He may do this
with the staff as a whole or with individuals.
Ill usually try to get it into somebodys hands who will try it, or say I
have found this great thing. What do think about it? Then I will give
them a couple of days, three days, maybe a week and come back and
ask, Did you read it? What did you think? Then, if they seem
interested, Ill say, Do me a favor try it and see what happens. Let
me know, and then just leave. Ill leave it for awhile, come back in a
week or two weeks later and say, 'You were going to try it, what did
you think?' If they did, they will say, I liked it, or, I didnt like it. I will
say, Share it with someone else and see what they think. (Ron
His teachers are aware of how Ron does this as well.
You know, I think Ron is well aware of the value of buy-in and he is
very good at working on that. Perhaps at planting the seed and then
seeing how a discussion evolved and directing, you know, where he
would like to see it go. (Informant #9; 11/29/93)
Another way Ron seeds ideas is through the professional library. This is
located in the staff lounge and stocked with items purchased with
discretionary dollars which are under his control. This library is well used.
Most teachers mentioned it, and give Ron credit for developing it, when
asked how they got ideas on education.
He has built the library. He has found the funds, I dont know what he
used, but we have lots of literature to read. Its a teachers' library.
(Informant #3; 6/14/93)
Ron set aside money from the budget to purchase books on whole
language so we would have professional reading material. Then we
had a professional reading library in our lounge that has books that
have been selected by teachers. (Informant #6; 7/27/93)
Yes, they really use them [books bought by principal]. I have read
several of them on my own... A lot of them are used in conjunction
with our class that people are taking at [the university]. Its great for
teachers. (Informant #1; 6/7/93)
We also have been developing a library for that sort of thing with the
different authors that have been recommended. In some cases we
buy multiple copies and more or less make them available so they
[teachers] have something to read off the shelf. (Ron Daniels;
As modest as he is, and as much as he tries to give credit to others, it is
clear that Ron is a primary source of new ideas for the building. He
constantly brings up new ways to teach children and structure the school. In
private conversation he acknowledges this, and he is certainly seen by his
teachers in this leadership role.
I think Ron brought it up and asked if we might be interested.
(Informant #4; 6/15/93)
Ron brought up what was going on as far as updating the library and
then in the same meeting, same part of the discussion, was this grant
was becoming available and how it could be beneficial for school in
particular. (Informant #8; 11/11/93)
We are often given hand outs... We did get something regarding
technology and computers and calculators in the classroom which
Ron would like to see. (Informant #9; 11/29/93)
It is apparent that Rons approach to acquiring intellectual capital and his
use if it are intimately intertwined. His learning alongside his staff is directly
related to his development of them as leaders in particular areas within the
school. His willingness to explore any new idea which might help the school
creates an atmosphere of intellectual exploration among staff members.
Ideas are broached, discussed, analyzed, and implemented as part of the
daily fabric of the school. Of course the staff at Greenwood still deal with all
the demands on teachers anywhere. Yet in speaking with, and observing,
them, one sees an excitement about exploring new ideas which is
uncommon in education.
The theme of Ron as a promoter of ongoing conversations about
education recurs frequently. It was mentioned by most teachers and best
summarized in the following quote.
He provides the freedom for all of us to talk and to look at new
methods. And then he will get us whatever we need. And then he
provides the meetings, or sort of discussions where we can bring this
in a small group, or grade level or whatever. He would meet with
them and bring in his point of view and accept others so that we have
that discussion as to how we want to be. How our school wants to be.
(Informant #5; 7/22/93)
As noted in the description of how cooperative learning came to be a
focus at Greenwood, Ron used a questioning approach with staff members.
He presented teachers and CDM members with examples of outstanding
schools and then asked them what common theme they recognized.
Basically it came back to saying, Whats one common thread that you
see in every one of these better schools? and that seems to be
cooperative learning. (Ron Daniels; 3/18/93)
Rons role as a questioner was also apparent in his initial skepticism
towards whole language. He challenged the two teachers who were using it
in their classrooms to show him that it worked. That give and take continues.
As one of those teachers put it, "Im always arguing with him about points"
(Informant #4; 6/15/93).
Ron is willing to challenge the status quo and be very proactive in his
thinking. He sees his job as one of getting things done, regardless of how
they have been done before or what he has been told to do. He does not
hesitate to get on the phone and call someone from central administration to
let them know that he will be heading off in his own direction or to challenge
a directive from "downtown." Ron does not do this to make waves, but when
he feels that he is genuinely doing what is best for the students and staff in
his school. He wants to find better ways for children to learn and to get the
resources to help teachers teach. His teachers certainly perceive him in this
He knows everything. He seems to know whatever. Youll say, 'I was
going to do this,' and hell say, 'I know where you can get this. Check
it out.' And it will be a company or a person or whatever. Books,
anything, he just seems to have resources where he can get you
materials, or who to talk to if you want to do something. (Informant #3;
Ron does not see himself as the expert, but as a resource for teachers.
Again, he is very modest and undoubtedly selling himself somewhat short in
this regard. As another teacher pointed out,
He has a lot of good ideas and a lot of good experiences and a lot of
good training to draw from. He stays very up on whatever is around in
whatever subject it may be. (Informant #5; 7/22/93)
Another way Ron uses ideas to move the staff in a particular direction is
through an emphasis on training and continuing professional growth. He
seeks out opportunities for teachers and encourages them to go to
conferences, seminars, workshops and classes. He asks teachers to share
what they have learned, once again using teachers as his schools own
"brains trust." He even goes so far as to take large groups of children to
recess so that teachers can have time to work together on training
Or, you know, if one of us goes to a seminar we try to come back and
share ideas... Ron encouraged it.... Hed say maybe it might be
good if you set up a group and talk. If you can make it fine, and if not,
not. The way our lunch schedule works some of us could make it for
20 minutes. (Informant # 2; 6/10/93)
Once he has the ideas seeded, Ron does an outstanding job maintaining
a flow of discussion and sharing about them. He sets up small groups
before and during school, provides release time for teachers to interact, runs
weekend workshops for staff (which he often participates in), and creates an
atmosphere in which ideas are examined, considered, and implemented.
His teachers know that he will find resources to do what they have decided
upon as a staff. They rely upon him to stick with something once he has
committed to it, and look to him as a source of information, inspiration, and
One of the distinctions Burns (1978) makes is between intellectuals and
intellectual leaders. The former are interested in ideas for their own sake,
the latter use ideas -- intellectual capital -- to accomplish specific goals and
to inspire and change their followers. However, a transformational leader
may either be an intellectual leader herself or be a leader who takes
advantage of intellectuals and uses intellectual capital to accomplish her
ends. Ron seems clearly to fall into the latter category.
In an elementary school, the administrative team is not large, and Ron is
the only administrator in his building. Yet, he has helped create an
atmosphere in which the acquisition of knowledge is valued and thus his
staff serve in some ways as his own little brains trust* a la Franklin D.
Roosevelt. In addition, he brought the non-profit educational group into the
school which also functioned as a "brains trust" for language and literacy.
Ron then did everything he could to help them impart their knowledge to the
Ron does not describe himself as an intellectual, but he has a patent
excitement for learning new ways to help children and discussing various
educational ideas with others as a way of furthering his own knowledge. His
acquisition of such knowledge seems to have more pragmatic than
philosophical underpinnings. He is not an intellectual inasmuch as that
means someone who is interested in ideas for their own sake. However, he
exemplifies Bass' (1985a) distinction between how a transformational leader
and a transactional leader approach ideas. He is "more likely to be
proactive than reactive in [his thinking]; more creative, novel, and innovative
in his ideas; and less inhibited in [his] ideational search for solutions" (p.
Ron acquires ideas from a variety of educational and non-educational
sources. He attends educational workshops and seminars, and also reads
business literature and gets ideas from television, as he did with cooperative
learning. Ron brings experts into the school and learns from them along
with his staff. He also credits his teachers with being a source of expertise
for him and the school.
The most common ways Ron uses intellectual capital are symbolically
and to transform others. Much less evidence was available on his use of
intellectual capital for rapid reification or to analyze situations. His use of
intellectual capital to challenge others is more subtle than I originally
conceptualized this. He consciously presents ideas which he knows will not
always be accepted easily in an attempt to get people to think about what
they are doing. Most of the examples of his using intellectual capital
symbolically coincide with its use to transform others. It is clear that Ron is
very conscious of how he presents ideas in order to create change. His lack
of need for recognition, and belief that it is best if others get credit made it
somewhat difficult to get at this aspect of his use of intellectual capital.
However, despite his modesty both he and his staff knew, and eventually
described in very similar terms, that he was a driving force behind many of
the changes in the school.
It is evident that Ron uses intellectual capital symbolically to excite
teachers and others to follow a particular course of action. It is equally clear
that he does not use ideas to challenge preconceived notions they may
have at least not directly. This may occur over time as people face the
constant stream of information, "seeding," sharing and conversation which
Ron initiates. The questions remains as to whether Ron uses intellectual
capital to transform people. Are they different in some essential way as a
result of the ideas he makes use of?
Ron would almost certainly say that any transformation on the part of staff
members is due to their innate professionalism and abilities. He continually
describes them, publicly and in one-on-one interviews, as being outstanding
educators. However, in the time he has been there it is clear that the
majority of the staff have changed in their approach to education and
attitudes towards children. We dont know whether this would have
happened without his being there, but there is no doubt he has played an
important role in this transformation. His skills in managing information and
guiding conversations (the symbolic aspect of using intellectual capital)
have led to a transformation on the part of staff members.
While Ron would not describe himself as an intellectual he has created
an atmosphere in the school which values ideas, thinking and conversation
about concepts. He sees the staff as being his own "brains trust" and he has
done much to foster this on their part. He uses teachers to seed ideas
throughout the staff, developed an extensive written and video library for
professional use, and works tirelessly to bring staff development
opportunities to the teachers. He participates in all of this with others which
serves to both increase his own intellectual capital and model for his staff his
belief in the importance of intellectual capital.
The evidence in this case bears out the importance of intellectual capital
for transformational leaders. Even though Ron does not describe himself as
somebody who is an intellectual, he clearly places an importance on ideas
and communicates this to his staff. Along with other dimensions of
transformational leadership this allows him to accomplish his goals of the
"real intended change" which is needed at Greenwood School.
ANA DEL CASTILLO
As you drive to Martinez Elementary School you see many small, neat
homes that have little fenced yards in the community around the school.
Old, mature trees scrape the sky as you drive by the neighborhood. Most of
the families have a dog to help protect the family and their belongings. The
majority of the people that live in this neighborhood are Latino. Some of the
families have been there for generations. Others are recent immigrants,
mostly from Mexico. A Head Start Program near the school serves many of
the preschool children in the community. Churches in the area represent
Martinez Elementary is located in an inner city neighborhood. It was built
in 1924 and has been the center of the community for many generations.
The architecture in the old section of the school is majestic. Portions of the
old section of the school tower over the neighborhood, almost like a castle.
The newer, remodeled section of the school has classrooms constructed in
pod form while the classrooms in the older section are traditional one room
classrooms with four walls. Original oil paintings hang in the hallways
whose floors are filled with neat rows of white and black tiles. The library
has a non-working fireplace in it with sculptures near the top of the ceiling
depicting children and animals. The library used to be a Kindergarten
classroom and it looks like it, because it is large and spacious with its doors
facing the playground.
People who work in the school do so because they want to. Many of the
staff members have chosen to work at Martinez Elementary because they
believe in helping the students and their families in this particular
neighborhood or they have followed the principal to this school. Three
teachers during the interview process noted that either they had followed
Ana to this school or they knew of someone who was trying to come to
Martinez to work with Ana Del Castillo. ( Both the school and principal
names are pseudonyms.)
Over six hundred students and forty-eight staff members come to
Martinez every school day. Many staff members are fluent in Spanish and
English. They have a sense of pride in the community and in the school.
Community members have a long history of being involved in city
government and local politics. The community has been organizing to
maintain their pride and influence in the greater community. Some very
influential citizens have moved back to this neighborhood to reestablish their
roots and to mobilize the citizenry to work toward more improvements for
their neighborhood. As a result, there is a proliferation of services provided
to the community members in this area. Many of the families are working
while others are receiving welfare or are not tied to any agency because of
distrust or not knowing how the system works.