Purpose – This research, based on a case study carried out in a Portuguese public school, was undertaken with the main purpose of investigating the perceptions of secondary school teachers regarding their principal and his leadership style. Design/methodology/approach – Teachers received a questionnaire which included 57 items, grouped under the following nine areas: school climate, school leadership and management, curriculum development, personnel management, administration and fiscal management, student management, professional development and in‐service, relations with parents and the community, problem solving and decision making. After the questionnaires were collected, the semi‐structured interview process began with the principal. The areas that were discussed were identical to those of the questionnaire in order to be able to make certain comparisons and draw some conclusions about possible discrepancies between what the teachers perceived and what the principal thought of himself. In the case presented in this study, the researchers spent a total of about two hours with this particular principal interviewing him and shadowing him on various aspects covered by the questionnaire. The results are based on the interview with this one principal and the school's teachers’ responses to the questionnaire. Findings – The underlying (and guiding) assumption for this project was that the effectiveness of a leader is (to a great extent) dependent on how others view him/her as a leader. From the overall results in this particular study, it seems that there is an overall agreement between the teachers and the principal regarding the principal's view of himself and the teachers’ perceptions of him. Generally, the results indicate that the existence of a high level of collegiality in the management of Portuguese schools seems to be an important feature when explaining the large degree of agreement found between the views of the teachers and of the principal on his leadership style. Even though the results cannot be generalized from this small sample, there is the belief that in Portuguese public schools there is a certain sense of “consensual management” style, which is closer to the main interests of the teachers, rather than closer to the interests of other participants in school life. Originality/value – The study paper sheds light on the perceptions of secondary school teachers regarding their principal and his leadership style. This kind of research has been, until now, clearly marked by its paucity in Portugal.
International Journal of Educational Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
Keywords: Principals; Teachers; Perception; Leadership; Public schools; Portugal
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