Working interdependently: What this means for leadership in schools

Year: 2015

Author: Barnett, Kerry, McCormich, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Many schools have shifted to work organised around teams to meet challenges posed by current environmental complexities. Hence, for schools to meet these challenges, teams must function effectively, and for teams to function effectively, team members must work well together. However, the shift to team based work represents a significant cultural change because traditionally work in schools has been characterised by high levels of independence, and not the high levels of interdependence necessary for the effective functioning of teams. This focuses attention on the factors which contribute to team effectiveness. Several scholars have posited the centrality of leadership for team effectiveness. Empirical investigations have supported this contention. Most studies of team leadership are recent, conducted in the non-school setting, and have adopted a functional perspective, which contends the leader must perform whatever is not being done to meet team needs. Whilst researchers have identified critical team leadership functions, it is likely that the extent to which these functions matter or not will be determined by context and the most salient context for team leadership is the team as it is the most immediate one. Moreover, we posit this should be further investigated because considerable gaps in knowledge exist which limit empirically supported recommendations for leadership practices in school settings. The presentation will report the findings from a study (part of a larger investigation of senior leadership teams in Catholic schools in NSW, Australia) which investigated relationships between team context and team member perceptions of principal enactment of leadership functions. The senior leadership team (SLT) was defined as the ‘group that meets with the principal to make decisions about the whole school’. We developed a conceptual framework and hypotheses, and employed a cross-sectional correlation design. The participants were 57 SLTs. Data were collected through a self-reported online survey. Data were nested and were analysed using multilevel data analysis procedures in Lisrel 9.1. The findings will be discussed in the presentation.
Presenter biography: Kerry Barnett is a lecturer in the Educational Leadership Program in the School of Education at UNSW, Australia. Her research focuses on applying group and team process theory to leadership in educational contexts.
Consider for Award: No
Submit Paper for Review: No