Effective Leadership Styles in Education

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Vijay GarG

If you manage staff or teach students, when you work in education sector, some approaches may work better than others. Choosing from various options can help you select the right approach for each challenge. In this article, we discuss 10 leadership styles in education and explore how they can affect your organization, your team and your students.

To lead teachers, students or administrators effectively, you need a framework that defines your approach. Adopting a leadership style helps you determine how to make decisions, what goals to prioritize and how to interact with others. When you choose the right leadership style for the situation, you may be able to solve complex problems, resolve conflicts quickly, change the course of a school or even transform educational systems.

  1. Affiliate

This approach focuses solely on the people you lead, such as faculty or students. Rather than focusing on your own needs or goals, you completely support those who depend on you.

Most leaders who use an affiliate-style approach focus on cultivating trust among followers and empowering others to carry out their goals. When you use this approach, you have to trust the process and believe that the students or faculty you lead are devoted enough to carry out your plans and strategies as directed.

  1. Authoritative

If you work in an educational setting that requires or already operates under strict rules and policies, consider using an authoritative leadership style to ensure those you lead follow them. When you adopt an authoritative style, you establish a large-scale vision and the short-term goals needed to achieve it. You then delegate specific guidelines for how each person can help the organization reach those goals, supervise your staff or students to closely monitor performance and progress.

This style is especially effective when you have a significant amount of experience or expertise in an in-demand area that you can use to prove that your authoritative approach can work. With this approach, you can expect students, teachers and even administrators to respect you and your strategy.

  1. Coaching

When you adopt a coaching leadership style, you take on a mentoring role for your team or class. You build strong bonds with those you lead and focus on helping them develop their skills

As a coach, you identify areas of weakness among your students or staff and show them how to improve. When you coach others, you strive to remain empathetic toward their needs, goals and capabilities while still maintaining focus on the organization’s goals.

  1. Coercive

When you use a coercive approach, you expect your team or class to comply with all of your demands. This stricter authoritarian approach involves identifying what needs to be done or what changes need to be made to achieve a specific outcome and outlining very clear processes for how to complete tasks and make those changes.

Although a coercive leadership style may not be appropriate as a long-term approach, it typically works best for leaders who need to achieve substantial goals, often in a short amount of time, and who have the capacity to focus on those goals completely. Some administrators use a coercive approach during crises, such as financial strain, to place strict limitations on certain activities and reduce negatively impactful behaviors. Similarly, teachers can use this style when they need to improve their class’s performance quickly.

  1. Emotional

An emotional approach focuses on the feelings of the people you lead. To use this leadership style effectively, you must have keen emotional intelligence and understand how to read and interpret how your staff or students feel. You also have to understand how to motivate others using both their current feelings and the emotions you know they want to experience.

  1. Instructional

Many teachers and administrators opt to embrace an instructional leadership style because it emphasizes improving teaching performance and student progress simultaneously. To achieve these goals, administrators take responsibility for advancing teachers’ professional development, while teachers work closely with students to improve their performance. Instructional leaders also set high expectations for those they lead and provide incentives for good performance.

Administrators with an instructional leadership style closely monitor their teachers’ performance, evaluating their abilities and identifying areas that need improvement. They arrange regular teaching evaluations and provide additional training as necessary. Teachers who use the instructional leadership style also review students’ performance to identify strengths and areas for improvement to then provide additional help, such as tutoring or more one-on-one guidance.

  1. Pacesetting

If you want to motivate your team of students, teachers or administrators to improve their performance, consider setting the pace yourself. Adopting this leadership style has the potential to work well when you lead people who are both experienced and motivated.

As a pacesetter, you focus less on having others establish goals and more on serving as a good example. To put this leadership style into action, set and work toward improvement goals for yourself, such as regularly acquiring new skills, increasing productivity and developing new knowledge about education best practices.

  1. Strategic

When you need to focus on long-term planning, consider using a strategic approach to better focus on analyzing current school and classroom performance and setting goals to reach better results.

As a strategic leader, you focus less on daily concerns and more on developing frameworks that allow others to reach long-term goals. When you take this approach, you should plan to focus on analyzing data, allocating resources and developing partnerships. Strategic leaders also consider partnerships and collaboration essential for accomplishing major goals.

  1. Transactional

A transactional style could help you and your organization accomplish your goals because it allows you to view every interaction like a business transaction or an exchange of elements with equal value. These leaders set these expectations but also provide additional resources and support within limitations to set staff and students up for success.

A transactional approach tends to work best when the people you lead are motivated by money or another tangible reward. Since many educators are motivated by greater purposes and goals rather than money alone, a transactional approach may work only for select faculty.

For example, an administrator might expect teachers to reach certain performance standards in the classroom in exchange for funding a field trip, and in turn, a teacher may expect their students to reach those same performance standards in exchange for organizing a field trip.

  1. Transformational

As a transformational leader, you take a collaborative approach to management and serve as a strong role model for those you lead. By empowering others, you can create a shared desire to improve and reach goals. This style involves clearly communicating at all levels, setting large-scale objectives and delegating tasks without having to closely monitor performance and progress.

When you take a transformational approach, you have to be familiar with the basics of several other leadership styles. You have to know how to inspire and motivate others, how to focus on their self-interests and how to stimulate others emotionally and intellectually. As a transformational leader, you can expect to cultivate mutual trust, loyalty and respect among your students or team members.

The writer is Ex.PES-1, Retired Principal, Government Girls Senior Secondary school MHR Malout Punjab.


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