1. Introduction

1.1 Context

Knowledge delivery is a critical process which should be done in much careful manner. The schools and other educational institutions have this responsibility and the management of those organisations should be able to handle that responsibility. The schools should provide better and high quality outputs to the society which means highly educated people to the society. The student should be able to improve both his cognitive and physical capabilities during the school time and those capabilities should be positively reflect on the individual and the national development (Al-Omari, 2013).

The management of the educational institutions should be able to identify the current improvements of the education and knowledge delivery and effectively implement those new methodologies in the institutions for the improvement of the education process. Sine Sri Lanka is a developing country it is given much focus on the improvement of the education in the country. The country is experiencing the free education and any person can improve their knowledge free of charge from the government schools. The country has high quality university network which would delivery high level of versatile knowledge areas to the population. Since the country has the best level of education in South Asian region, the population has high level of literacy in the country.

Even though the government schools are playing a major role in the education system in the country, there is a demand for the private schools in the country which would ensure the highest quality of education delivery when it compares to the government schools. Most of the private schools of the country is expecting to give the best level of education to its children and those are competing with the top level government schools of the country. Private schools are giving the opportunity to the student to experience the high quality of knowledge delivery which would equal to the top level government schools of the country.

1.2 Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to assess the leadership styles and methods that are applied to the private schools of the country. Since the private schools are playing competitive role in the country’s educational system, it would require to fill the existing gaps of the management of the knowledge delivery process of the industry. The research would focus on the leadership styles of the management in schools.

The Colombo area is crowded with private schools since there is high level of demand for the focus private education in the area. During the report it would assess the leadership styles of the female principals during the management process of primary and secondary private schools in Colombo area. The research would implement proper research methodologies to capture both qualitative and quantitative data to achieve the purpose of the study effectively.

1.3 Background and rationale

The education industry has high level of demand for the female teachers. Since females have high level of patience and motherly instinct they are highly capable of managing small children with love and caring while ensuring the high level of discipline (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998). Since the females have high level of orientation toward the teaching job roles there are high level of tendency to increase the number of female principals in the future. Because of that the female teachers should be able to build up their capabilities to face the future educational management requirements.

During the proposed research it would be assessed how the female principals are managing the education delivery in the private schools (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998). The proposed research is highly focused on identifying the successful leadership styles. Because of that the findings of the research would have high level of positive knowledge delivery to the education management of the country.

1.4 Research question

The leadership styles of female principals in private primary & secondary school in Colombo, Sri Lanka is the specific research question of the proposed research. The research would address the scope of the education management. Which would effectively helpful to the improvement of the educational delivery process of a school or an educational institute. The research question has specifically targeted the female gender because of the high level of female demand to the education delivery especially in the private schools.

2. Literature review

2.1 Management of education

The education delivery process should be managed well because there are high level of policy making orientation can be seen in the industry from the government of any country (Ansari, 1990). The education system of the country would ensure the highly educated people to the nation and their level of education would benefit both the country’s status and the population. Because of that the expectations of the country would have high level of impact on its education system. The country’s future expectations would always improve the education system in the country and also it would align the improvements of the areas of the education as well (Al-Omari, 2013).

The management of the educational institutions should be able to satisfy those national requirements. To do that they should be able to manage the educational delivery process effectively in their institutions (Ansari, 1990). Because of the vision of the management the whole educational delivery process would be changed and therefore the vision of the management should be highly positive when conducting the educational management functions.

The leadership style of the top management would have high level of impact on the knowledge delivery process of the educational institute. Since there are no exact leadership method for the educational management the top management of the institution would adapt whichever the style they prefer and manage the functions of the organisation accordingly. The leadership style would have both advantages and disadvantages but the management of the organisation should be able to adapt most suitable leadership methodology when it comes to the educational management.

2.2 Leadership styles

When it comes to the managing an organisation, it can be identified various leadership styles and methodologies. The management of the organisation should be able to adjust the leadership style which would give the organisational expectations of the education management. Various theories are used for explaining the leadership styles (Ansari, 1990). Since the leadership capabilities are harder measure using a scale, it would be harder to evaluate how much of qualities that each leader would have when managing the subordinates and the organisational processes. One leader would follow some extreme people management method while another one is following overall mix of leadership capabilities to manage the employees in the organisation.

2.2.1 Autocratic leadership style

The leadership style is known as much of high power to the leader. The leader would decide what should be done by the followers. The leader would have high level of demand. This leadership style would come up with high level of authority power (Bourgeois, 2006). When the leader has the correct skillset and good vision this leadership style would guide the followers to a much better future (Bourgeois, 2006). But if the leader has wrong and harmful expectations it would not guide the followers to the better future and it would just simply make negative results to the followers or the environment.

When it comes to the education management some are using the autocratic leadership methods to control the tasks of the educational institute. Since the leader or the principal of the school has high level of authority power over controlling the employees, the followers would have to do what it would be demanded by the leadership (Bourgeois, 2006). But eventually this leadership style would generate high level of stress in the school. Also the followers would feel that they have been underappreciated for their ideas.

2.2.2 Democratic leadership style

Under this leadership method the leader would listen to the followers. This method can be named as the opposite of autocratic leadership method. The followers would share their ideas with the leadership and all the members of the group would get the chance to express their own perception (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998). Because of the overall involvement of the follower, the total idea generation is highly qualitative and rich.

After assessing all the ideas and the suggestions, the best method would be implemented and the leadership would guide its followers to achieve the objectives of the proposed method effectively (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998). When there are challenges all the parties would assess the challenge and propose necessary solutions to the challenge by sharing their ideas effectively (Bourgeois, 2006).

This leadership style would give benefits to the education management in an organisation. Because most of the time the best idea would be implemented and also the employees would feel that their ideas have a value in the organisation. They feel appreciated and most of the negative impacts of the autocratic leadership method would be avoided under this leadership style.

2.2.3 Transformational leadership style

This leadership method is known as the most effective leadership style in the world. The leader would share his vision with the follower and that vision would always achieve the best output to the followers. Under this leadership style the leader would transform the attitudes and the perceptions of the follower to achieve the vision of the leadership effectively and efficiently. High level of motivation can be seen under this leadership method and the employee engagement is very high (Bourgeois, 2006). The followers would be highly satisfied with the leadership and because of the high level of positive qualities of the leader, the followers would have high level of faith towards the leadership. They would always follow and believe the words of the leader and collectively function to achieve the leader’s vision (Bourgeois, 2006).

This method is especially effective when it comes to the education management. The principal should be able to manage the employees of the educational institute with high level of transformational leadership qualities. Since the followers are observing the qualities of the leadership they would be able to implement transformational leadership qualities during the education delivery process. The transformation of the students to achieve the learning and educational goals would eventually generate better results in the schools.

2.2.4 Transactional leadership style

This leadership style is much process oriented. The stated processes and tasks would be achieved through the followers and the leadership would assess whether the followers have followed the correct protocols to achieve the assigned tasks. The leadership would take necessary corrective actions when there are need of improvements to the processes. High level of leadership control can be seen in managing the organisational tasks. The leadership style is known as the managerial leadership and under this leadership the followers would be managed through the rewards and the punishments.

This leadership style can be seen in many organisation including the educational institution as well. The employees’ performance would be managed through the rewards and the punishment. The management would state the performance standards to the organisation and when the employees are achieving the performance standards they would be get rewarded by the management. The employee performances would be closely monitored by the management and necessary managerial methodologies would be used for the controlling the employees.

2.2.5 Laissez faire leadership style

The lowest level of leadership involvement can be seen in the leadership style. The followers would take the necessary decision during the leading and the managerial processes (Wang, 2012). The leader would not effectively guide the employees and he would observe the behaviour of the followers while giving them the high level of decision making power (Wang, 2012). The followers would have the vision to achieve the success and they would work together to achieve the vision while carrying the leadership to the vision as well.

It would be much harder to implement this leadership style in the schools and other educational institutions because the leadership involvement is essential when it comes to the education management (Wang, 2012). Proper discipline would be harder to implement but if the employees have the correct leadership skills and managerial skill, the leader’s Laissez Faire method would not be a problematic to the educational institution.

2.3 Most effective leadership style

When it comes to managing the educational institutions the most effective leadership style is the transformational leadership. Commonly many organisations are preferring the transformational leadership method because it would have high level of benefits to the organisation since the employees have high level of morale and motivation towards achieving the common vision of the leadership (Dash and Dash, 2008). But most of the time the transformational leaders would rare and many would find difficulties when adopting transformational leadership qualities during the management process.

Many educational institutions are following the transactional leadership methods because under the leadership the followers would be managed through the performance standards and competence expectations (Dash and Dash, 2008). The leadership would evaluate the performance achievement and provide the necessary rewards to encourage the employees to achieve more positive performances. Manageable processes would be introduced to the organisation and the leadership would be able to monitor the each and every aspects of the organisation effectively (Dash and Dash, 2008).

Both leadership styles are effective in managing an educational institutions and the leadership should improve the transformational leadership qualities during the time since it is known as the most effective leadership style. Both leadership methods would ensure the high level of people engagement to the achievement of the organisational vision and mission which means the methods would ensure the democracy in the organisation.

3. Methodology

The research methodology would define how the researcher should conduct the research to achieve the research objectives while answering the research questions. The researcher had get the inputs to the research through proposed research methodologies in this chapter.

3.1 Methodology approach and justification

The research is focused on the identification of the leadership methods of the female educational managers. During the research it would take the inputs of 6 – 10 female principle and their inputs to the research would be assessed using the quantitative method in the research. The quantitative methods would be used for the identification of the leadership styles of the participants of the research.

It would be beneficial to use the quantitative analysis methods because it would give the results that are in more objective manner to the organisation. The analysis would be more statistical and also it would generalise the findings during the research. Since the selected sample is lower the qualitative method would give much generalised inputs to the research as well. Also the quantitative method would not collect high level of long and complicated inputs as the qualitative methods. The results that are collected through the quantitative methods would give the summarise outputs which would be much easier to understand also the outputs would ensure the justifications of the research hypothesis.

Qualitative methods would collect long qualitative information and the researcher would sometime find difficulties during the data analysis because of the long descriptive results of the research inputs. But quantitative methods would not deliver long and complex inputs to the research and most of the time the researcher would be able to collect specific answers to the questionnaires as the definite inputs from the participants. The participants would also have the clear idea about the questions and the answers during the quantitative methods, because the questionnaires or the data collection methods would be designed to collect the specific quantitative data to the research. Not only that the data analysis would be much easier and it would give the much quality to the research object achievement during the research in shorter period of time in the research.

3.2 Research method

The inputs of the participants had collected using the questionnaire interview method. Under this method the selected sample for the research was given with a questionnaire to assess their current leadership style in the organisation. The questionnaire would cover all the areas that the researcher would target to address as the research questions and the objectives (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998).

The participants’ leadership method would be assessed according to the answers of the questionnaire and the questionnaire would be designed to entertain the needs of the quantitative approach to the research. The researcher would first introduce the research purpose to the participants and the areas that the questionnaire would cover during the research input taking. The participants should have proper idea about the research and they should know how to give the inputs to the research. Since the quantitative methods are used in the research, the researcher would not require to collect high amount of data as the input (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998). The specific, measurable data would ease the analysis of data and the researcher should encourage the participants to give their honest and genuine feedbacks and inputs to the research as much as possible.

3.3 Research sample

During the research it would assess the inputs of the 10 female principals. The selected sample is few but the researcher expects get the highest level of input to the research through those participants of the research. The selected samples would be presented with the research questionnaire and they can provide their inputs to the research questionnaire according to their perception and the current methodologies that they are following the lead their respective schools.

The selected sample of participant have high level of experience in managing schools. Actually the principal job role cannot be successfully done without having high level of knowledge and experience in the field. Therefore the principals should have the highest level of educational and people handling qualifications and capabilities to successfully conduct the education delivery process of the schools (Oyetunji, 2011). Since the selected research sample has high level of experience and knowledge in managing educational institutions, they would have high level of feedbacks to be provided to the research to make much viable conclusions (Oyetunji, 2011). So the selected research sample would be enough to get inputs to the research and make necessary conclusions according to the inputs to achieve the research objectives and answer the research questions.

3.4 Ethical considerations

In any research the ethical consideration would take major importance. Because the research should be done by ensuring the ethical background of protection of the rights of data and information. If the researcher would not be able to ensure the ethical protection, the rights of participants over the data would get violated during the time.

Mainly during the proposed research, the information gathered during the research would be kept safe and securely destroy those after conducting all the research activities. The inputs of the research would only use for the purposes of achieving the research objective through answering the research questions. The collected inputs would not be given to any other third party for the purpose of getting unethical advantages and only the inputs would be used for the proposed research only.

The participant would be provided with high level of information about the research. What are the objectives of the research would be explained to the participants and they would not have any questions about the research and it purposes during the time that they are giving the inputs to the research. Their written consent would be taken for the participation of the research and the usage of their inputs to achieve the research objectives during the research.

4. Data analysis and discussion

During this chapter it would be assessed all the collected information during the research through the research questionnaire. The research questionnaire was designed to capture the inputs to the research which would help to identify the leadership qualities and methodologies of the participants. The selected sample for the research was 10 participants and during the chapter their inputs would be displayed and assessed through analytical manner.

4.1 Provided answers to the questionnaire

4.1.1. Are you satisfied with the current education methodologies in your school?

As it seems that the only one participant is not satisfied about the current education methods of the school. The level of satisfaction would ensure whether the participants are satisfied with their managing capabilities over the school. The results show that almost all the participants are satisfied about their management capabilities.

4.1.2. Do you think that the current education methods of your school would ensure the future needs of the country and children?

Neutral and strongly disagree choices were not given to the question. Most of the participants are accepting that their schools are providing the essential educational needs and only two participants think that their current system should need improvements to meet the future expectations. The satisfaction of the existing method would not invite the leadership to test the new thing in the organisation and dissatisfaction of the current system would open the potentials for the development which would ensure the future satisfaction.

4.1.3. Do your employees are providing much positive support to achieve the needs and the objectives of the educational curriculum?

Most of the participants were given with medium and neutral level of support as their answer. That means the participants of the research are not totally satisfied with the employee support and they would look at the employees with that perception in mind.

4.1.4. Do you think that your employees need high level of guidance and supervision to conduct their tasks and when the close supervision would not be provided the employee would not work as expected?

It is clear that all the participants think that their subordinates need high level of guidance and supervision during the delivery of education to the children. The leaders have the perception that without their guidance the organisation would not function as it would expected.

4.1.5. Are you allowing the employees to be part of the organisational decision making process?

Most of the participant would not allow the subordinates to participate in the decision making process of the organisation. The management would make the necessary decision for the future of the organisation. But some participants are valuing the inputs of the subordinates for the decision making functions of the organisation.

4.1.6. Would you allow the employees to find solutions to the ongoing challenges of their day to day organisational functions?

The leaders would establish the expectations and most of them allow the employees to achieve those expectations. Most of the participants think that their subordinates are capable of handling the ongoing challenges of the day to day activities of the organisation. But considerable level of participants are involved in the processes and they assist the employees during the processes.

4.1.7. Do you agree that the employees are generally lazy to work and they should be highly supervised and monitored to get the expected output?

High level of participants agreed that the employees would not give the highest level of performances without the supervision of the management.

4.1.8. Is it a good leadership quality to provide the guidance to the employee without high level of pressure?

Most of the participants are disagree with the phrase. The participants have high level of experiences and with their experience they argued that the employee should feel the pressure to achieve the expectations of the organisation.

4.1.9. Does the leadership allow the employees to do their work following their own methods?

Most of the participants checked the answer “no”, because they believe that the employees would not be able to give the maximum to the organisation without being guided by the management.

4.1.10. The employees should be rewarded and punished during the management process and otherwise they would not give the required performances during the time.

Most of the participants are believed in the employee control through the rewards and the punishment methods. They suggested to give high level of supervision and control through those factors in the organisation.

4.1.11. Do your employees need often communication with the leadership to conduct their activities in the school?

Most of the participants have given the answer “yes” which means that the employees like to have the guidance of the leadership when conducting the organisational activities. Without the communication the employee would not be able to function well is the perception of the management.

4.1.12. Do you think that your subordinates would be able to assess their own performances during the time and get necessary solutions to improve the performances?

Most of the participants would not believe in the self performance assessments in the organisation and they have the thoughts of that the leadership should assess the performances and give the necessary feedbacks.

4.1.13. Most subordinates in the organisation feel that they should have high level of guidance of the management and without the guidance they would not be able to work their own in the organisation.

Most of the participants think that the high level of management involvement should be done to conduct the organisational functions. Without the proper guidance the employee would not do the organisational tasks accurately.

4.1.14. Leaders should be able to help the subordinates to conduct day to day function in the organisation to achieve the organisational expectations.

The participants have agreed highly to this. They thought that without the leadership involvement the employees would not be able to perform the duties up to the organisational expectations.

4.1.15. Do you think that you should give high level of freedom to the employees to make their own decisions during the functions of the organisation?

The management think that allowing the employees to have high level of freedom in the organisation would be a mistake. The authority powers should be implemented to control the behaviours of the employees in the organisation.

4.1.14. Leader should be able to help their subordinates to find their passion

Most of the participants suggested that the leadership’s should not help to identify the passions of the subordinates. They thought that the employees should be able to identify their own strengths and weaknesses during the job processes in the organisation.

4.1.15. Do you think that your subordinates would achieve the organisational expectations without your inputs and control?

Most of the participants thought that the employees would not be able to achieve the organisational expectations without the monitoring activities of the management.

4.1.16. The leaders should be able to give the proper guidance to the employees and clarify the procedures of the tasks.

Most of the participants thought that the leadership should involve more in the organisational controlling functions to get the maximum inputs from the employees in the organisation.

4.1.17. Do you think that your subordinates are competent enough to conduct tasks in the organisation and they would do much nicer job without having high level of leadership involvement?

According to the suggestions the high level of leadership involvement should be implemented in the organisation to improve the organisational tasks.

4.1.18. Do you think that the subordinates should be leaved alone without assigning procedural tasks to get the best performances out of them?

According to the input the management should delegate the organisational tasks among the employees to get the maximum inputs to the organisation. Without the work delegation the employees would not be able to conduct the organisational functions properly.

4.1.19. Do you think that the leader should have high level of authority powers to control the subordinates in the organisation?

According to the answers it was suggested that the leadership of the organisation should have high level of authority powers to control the employees in the organisation.

4.1.20. Do you believe that to get the highest level of performances the leader should delegate their authority powers among the employees?

According to the inputs the leader should not delegate his power and centralised power should be implemented in the organisation to get the best performances.

4.1.21. Do you conduct periodic meetings to assess the current work status and problems of the employees?

According to the inputs the leadership believe in the achieving the highest level of performances in the organisation through having regular progress meetings in the organisation.

4.1.22. Do you think that the employee should be aware of the organisational strategies and plans and their involvement to make such components to the organisation would be highly essential?

According to the inputs the management think that the employees’ input would not be highly necessary to the creation of the organisational plans for the future. Since the leadership has the perception that the employees are lazy, they think that would affect the organisational plans and goals if they involve the employees in the management planning functions.

4.1.23. Do you think that the employees would require high level of guidance and demonstrations to conduct the organisational processes when there are changes happening in the organisation?

The management thinks that the high level of leadership involvement is necessary to handle the change in the organisation effectively and efficiently. The employees would need the high level of guidance and control when managing the change in the organisation and leadership should attend to this with much efficient manner.

4.1.24. Do you think that the employees would work better as teams than individually?

According to the inputs the employees should be assigned as team to achieve the organisational expectations. The team would take care of the team members and also the teams would function much better in the Sri Lankan culture.

4.1.25. Do you think that your employees could do more to the organisation if they have high level of commitment but they would not give that commitment level because of the laziness?

The employees are much inefficient because of their lower level of commitment to the organisation according to the viewpoint the leadership. The leadership believed that the employee can provide much more quality input to the organisation if their perceptions are improved. They argued that the employee would not perform well in the organisation and the management should be able to improve the employee commitment by adapting many methods to the organisation.

4.2 The most preferred leadership style

According to the inputs given to the research it is clear that the most participants appreciate the transactional leadership style in the organisation. The transformation leadership qualities were shown by the very little number of the participants. None of the participants had showed Lassie Faire leadership style preference (Dash and Dash, 2008). Most of the leaders are believed in the authority power and they have approach to the employees according to the Theory X approach. They look at the employees as inefficient and incompetents and it would be the management’s responsibility to manage the employees to get the maximum benefits to the organisation (Oyetunji, 2011). The management should be able involve in all the activities in the organisation in order to improve the organisational functions to meet the stated expectation of the performances. The leadership should guide the employees to better performances and necessary actions should be taken when there are under performances in the organisation (Kippenberger, 2002).

5. Conclusion

The research was focused on the identification of the leadership styles in the schools in Colombo are. The research was narrowed down to the primary and the secondary level of education. The participant of the research was limited but the participants had high level of experience in managing the schools. Their input had showed their leadership methods in the school and during the analysis their perception was analysed to identify the preferred leadership styles of them.

In the management scope there are many management theories explain the leadership qualities, capabilities and the methodologies. But all the specified methodologies would not be suited for all the aspects. During the research it was assessed the most preferred leadership style in the educational institutions. Because sometime the theories would not cover overall requirements of the leadership in the organisation (Engwall and Zamagni, 1998). Theories would suggest that one leadership style would be better than the other one, but in the reality some leadership methodologies would be much practical in real context.

The selected participants have high level of knowledge and experience and because of that their insights would be much better to the identification of most preferred leadership style. The most preferred style of the leading the educational institutions are the transactional leading style. The transactional leadership style would absorb the general management rules to manage the employees. The planning, leading, organising and controlling activities would be done by the management to ensure the satisfaction of the organisational expectation. The transactional leadership method would ensure the involvement of the leadership in all the activities in the organisation. The employees would be guided by the management and when there are necessary improvement would be required the management would expressed the methodologies to satisfy those requirements.

The main objective of the school or the educational institution is to generate educated people to the society. To do that the organisations should be able to maintain well specified code of conduct to manage the educational process in the organisation (Al-Omari, 2013). The management of the organisation should be able to monitor the activities accurately to check whether the employees are following the guidelines and rules to ensure the quality education delivery to the students (Dash and Dash, 2008). The management suggested that the best thing to do is make necessary action plan to the organisation.

When the creation of the action plan the management would not get the high level of input from the employees. The reason for that is that the management consider the employees are somewhat lazy and because of that they would divulge the process for their benefit. The employees would not support the education process according to the perception of the management. The management would inform the plans and the strategies to the employees and after the introduction the management would closely monitor the employee to check whether they are following the guidelines and process steps as those were proposed in the plans. When the employees are ignorant to follow the stated processes and meet the management’s expectations, the management should establish necessary actions to correct those behaviour.

The selected sample for the research would prefer to control the employee through rewards and punishments. They prefer the generic management methodologies. Only few percentage of the selected sample would allow the employees to take responsibilities and participate in the management process actively (Al-Omari, 2013). Most of the participants did not highly believe in the transformational and Lassie Faire leadership methods. Almost all the parties of the research would suggest their inputs to the research based on the leadership view of the transactional leadership method (Al-Omari, 2013).

When it comes to the leadership methodologies the most favour method is the transformational leadership method. Because with the transformational leadership style the management would be able to convert the employees’ perceptions to a much positive state. The employee would provide their maximum input to the organisation to achieve the vision of the leadership. Even the few participants of the research have adapted this method and that is a good sign in the educational leadership. Because the employees would convert the vision of the leader to a much functioning one to achieve the organisational expectations in the market.

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