Female superintendent and school board perceptions of leadership behaviors : a descriptive study

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Fincannon, L. Angela
Malone, Bobby G.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Leadership
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The primary purpose of this study was to examine the leadership behaviors of Indiana female school superintendents from the perspectives of the superintendents themselves along with members of their school boards. The Kouzes and Posner Leadership Practices Inventory was employed to determine how 30 leadership behaviors are perceived from both groups and how closely their perceptions correlated.Through research findings, the following issues formed the basis for this study:(a) A demographic profile of female superintendents in Indiana; (b) a demographic profile of school board members from Indiana districts in which there was a female superintendent; (c) the extent to which the 30 leadership behaviors were observed and/or practiced; (d) the school board opinions regarding each of the leadership behaviors and whether or not each was considered important.Survey research procedures were used for this study. The survey instrument was adapted from the 2000 Kouzes and Posner Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) that is normally administered to a staff of people including bosses and subordinates. Using the LPI for gathering input from superintendents and school board members is a unique method for this instrument, as the study is designed to be used with leaders and their employees - not the leader and his or her superiors. The study was not used as any type of evaluative procedure and the results were reported as aggregate data. The LPI was reformatted to make it a more reader-friendly survey. This was accomplished by creating a box with the five-point Likert scale for each of the thirty questions. To the left of each of the 30 items, each school board member was to place a check beside any behavior he or she considered an important leadership trait. Demographic questions for superintendents and for school board members that were relevant to the study were developed from the background research. The demographic profiles indicated that both groups were much like the national average, predominantly white and married with an average age of both groups in the early fifties.Board members and female superintendents were closely aligned in their perceptions of her leadership behaviors. However, superintendents rated themselves slightly higher in the behaviors than their school boards. The null hypothesis was rejected in that differences were discovered between the means of female school superintendents and members of school boards as to their perceptions of the five subscales in all except Encouraging the heart.The final facet of this study was to collect input from the members of the school boards as to the importance of the thirty leadership behaviors. The board member was instructed to place a check beside its description for each of the descriptions that he or she felt was an important leadership trait. The most highly regarded behavior, according to school board members was: Treats people with dignity and respect (62%). Other leadership behaviors that were marked frequently included: Follows through on promises and commitments (57%), Sets personal example of expectations from others (55%), closely followed by Develops cooperative relationships with the team (54%).