Term of Award

Fall 2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Charles Reavis

Committee Member 1

Barbara J. Mallory

Committee Member 2

Gregory Chamblee

Abstract

Servant leadership is an approach to leadership that holds promise in the school setting because of the nature of the principalship. The current educational climate created by the No Child Left Behind Act, funding cuts, and principal shortages increases the importance of leadership within the schools. Utilization of the approach has been reported in business, but it was less clear if school leaders by practice model servant leadership in elementary schools. The purpose of this mixed methods research study was to determine the extent that elementary school principals in Southwest Georgia participated in the servant leadership model. The researcher administered a Likert-scale survey, Self -Assessment of Servant Leadership Profile (SLP), developed by Page and Wong, to 61 elementary principals within the Southwest Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency area. Survey return rate was 55%. The researcher also conducted follow-up interviews with six randomly selected principals who returned their survey. Fifty-percent of the principals were engaged in the servant leadership model as self-reported. The results indicated that they possessed the desirable attributes of a servant leader found in the conceptional framework designed by Page and Wong. Follow-up interviews reinforced the survey results obtained through a 55% return rate from the research sample. Ninety-five percent of the principals reported they were engaged in six of the seven factors of the SLP. Principals perceived themselves as engaged in Open, Participatory Leadership, Authentic Leadership, Courageous Leadership. Developing and Empowering Others, Inspiring Leadership, and Visionary Leadership (mean > 5.60). The scores in the area of Pride and Power (mean of 2.55) indicated that there were mixed practices among principals within this factor. The researcher used descriptive analysis of the mean scores of each of the seven factors within the categories of demographics of ethnicity; age; degree; gender; years of experience as a principal; and years of experience in present school as a principal to assess data trends. The following was found among the age demographics in Factor 2 ( Power and Pride) of the SLP. Principals in the age range of 35-40 had a mean score of 1.96, whereas principals in the age range of 46-50 had a mean score of 3.07. There was a trend in the data for years of experience as a principal within each factor. The mean scores of the principals who had 16-20 years experience as a principal were lower than the principals who had 21+ years of experience for each factor of the SLP. The interviews conducted in Phase II of the study provided greater understanding of the results of the survey on the items selected from each factor. Principals seem to have varied opinions about being in the forefront at every function; delegating responsibility; bringing out the best in others; status quo; and control of subordinates. Principals agreed on the items dealing with growth of staff; appreciation of staff; staff welfare; service to others; group interests above self; empowerment; communicating enthusiasm and confidence; articulating a sense of purpose and direction; and doing the right thing. Barriers to the practice of servant leadership emerged from the interviews and included: trust; power relations; lack of emphasis on collective growth; communication problems; and paternalism.

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