Having taken on this new position as a principal for a particularly troubled school, there are quite a few goals I would like to achieve within my first few months. First and foremost, I need to be able to establish myself as a leader in order to gain the trust of my teaching staff, who are still getting used to me and who are unsure what to think of me. I must be able to improve their perception of me to have a better effect on them than they might have otherwise. Low morale is another huge problem that I must solve – possibly the most important issue to address in my new position as principal. The overall objective of my time at this school is to create a growth-enhancing environment, so that academic outcomes, teacher motivation and other affiliated factors can be improved. With the help of Motivation theory and other such principles of organizational leadership, I hope to facilitate these outcomes in my teachers and staff.
In order to address the preliminary issue of securing the other teachers’ trust, I must employ attributes of Human Relations, treating my workers like human capital and becoming heavily invested in their development on a personal level. The impression I get is that they are unsure of what to make of me because their previous principal was more hands-off than he should have been; he did not take enough of an interest in the lives and development of his students and teachers, operating merely in a transactional capacity. I plan to correct this by taking a transformational leadership role for these teachers; this will show them that I value them as workers, and believe them to be incredibly important parts in the success of the school. By treating my teachers like active, collaborative members of the education community we have created, I can learn their capabilities and what strengths they need to build upon – this will help me to utilize their human capital to their highest capacity, and bring about a greater sense of morale and efficiency.
It takes a lot of work to build an organizational culture, particularly that of a school, but this can be easily facilitated by a clear establishment of our values. This will come about as the result of the creation of a definitive vision statement for the school – one in which the goals and priorities of the school are laid out in plain, succinct language, allowing all members of the organization to work toward that goal. By establishing a new vision statement (and involve the faculty in the consultation process by asking their advice on what their needs and wants are for the school), I can help to differentiate my tenure from the previous principal’s, create a sense of community by considering the teachers’ needs in the creation of the vision statement, and move forward with a decidedly more productive and unified sense of forward momentum.
One way in which I hope to ingratiate myself into the culture of the school is to address the sense of loose coupling likely present in the administrative and faculty levels of the organization. This sense of loose coupling is what has likely made the previous principal more hands-off in his interactions with his teachers, and has led to low morale and academic outcomes due to a perceived lack of care and attention paid to them. To address this, I want to become more invested and work more to develop teachers’ sense of confidence, motivation and teaching skills. In this way, I hope to bring about more tightly coupled systems within the school, in which I know as much about the teachers’ needs, wants and efficiency as they do about my intentions and vision for the school.
Mary Parker Follett’s principles will be extremely useful in helping to bring about a greater sense of worker trust and importance in the organization of this school. According to Follett, organizations will often lose sight of how important their workers are to the organizations, particularly at the management level; this creates a social situation in which the workers feel unappreciated, and therefore are less motivated to work and do well. I get the impression, having just entered this school, that these instructors have been ignored by previous management for a while, with their own students’ academic outcomes suffering as a result. Since the students are not doing well, the teachers feel unprepared and unable to get the job done, and so their morale drops. It is this problem that is my primary concern in my first few months as principal; if I can increase worker morale, I will be able to start a cycle in which the teachers are more motivated to work harder, which in turn creates better outcomes (and further increases their morale, and so on).
The organizational climate is a particularly thorny issue I wish to address in my work with the school. Through my use of transformational leadership, I want to improve the organizational climate into a more positive environment conducive to out of the box thinking and high morale. As teachers, I want to allow them some freedom to explore and find curricula and teaching strategies that work better for them and their students; while I would still supervise them and make myself available for advice, I would make sure teachers could personalize their teaching styles within reason to bring about greater outcomes for them and their students. This type of behavior setting is the kind of way I would like to influence my teachers both to work harder and feel better about their job, while also building a certain level of confident interaction between myself and the teachers.
All of these goals will be met according to a timeline of about 5-6 months that I will implement upon first going to the school. Within the first two weeks, my goal is to get to know the teachers, interview them both one-on-one and in groups, letting them get to know me in turn and allowing them to lower their defenses and become more comfortable with me. It is in this period that I will create the vision statement for the school, following along with the suggestions they make for their personal development as well as my overall ideas for what priorities the school needs to take. Once this vision statement is established and introduced to the school and faculty, we can all work together in a unified vision to better the school.
In the next two months, I will allow the teachers to be relatively autonomous in terms of how they run their classes. This will give them freedom to experiment while also guiding them in new teaching strategies, personal development, and giving them the chance to consult me as needed. This will allow them the time to operate according to their strengths, and move down the path to focusing on those strengths. At the end of those two months, we will reevaluate what the teachers should focus on in terms of curriculum and teaching style based on the outcomes that have been recorded thus far, and their comfort level.
In the final two months of this period, some final fine-tuning will be made before we largely settle in for the path that we have set ourselves on with our teaching approach and organizational culture. Through this whole process, I plan to keep a close eye on teachers and give them consultation as needed, further establish their strengths and work toward fine-tuning them, and working on trouble spots based on student performance. It is hoped that, at this point, morale will already have increased and motivation will be high based on existing gains and the momentum of establishing a new organizational culture. At the end of this period of adjustment, we should have arrived at an ideal organizational climate in which teachers, students and administrators alike can thrive.
Overall, my chief goal is to create a consultative organizational system, in which the climate is less closed and focused on human relations. By placing more trust in my teachers, and permitting them to come to me anytime they need help, I believe I will raise their morale by giving them a trusted authority figure who allows them to pursue their own sense of personal development and provides needed advice along the way. In this respect, I plan to encourage their sense of intrinsic motivation by making their own sense of accomplishment and development the primary motivator for doing well as a teacher. While extrinsic motivation through rewards and punishments would certainly still be a part of the way I would prospectively lead, the overall goal is to get to a point where the teachers are motivated on their own to do well based on their sense of fulfillment in the job. Creating a comfortable, productive organizational culture will go a long way towards making this happen.
With all of these traits and approaches to motivation, I plan to easily bring about better outcomes, a more productive and effective organizational culture, and increase the morale and motivation of my workers within the first few months of my new tenure. In order to gain the trust of my workers, I want to immediately start taking an active, transformative interest in them and develop the new vision statement for the school/organization with them.
Through treating the teachers as human capital and interacting with them to influence their outlook and performance, I hope to address issues of low morale by showing them a positive organizational climate that encourages them to work harder. As they work harder, students’ scores will go up, and their morale will increase, which will bring about a self-perpetuating cycle of increased performance. In this way, within several months the organization can evolve into a well-oiled machine that is highly motivated and focused on personal development and better academic outcomes.
Northouse, P.G. (2012). Leadership: theory and practice. 6th ed. SAGE Publications.