Strengths of Illinois public school superintendents and principals : relationship to leadership components for change
Wakeley, Scott Eric
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The literature indicates that leadership is of critical importance in the ability of schools and school districts to change and evolve in order to meet the continuing demand for increased student achievement and accountability. Although there is no shortage of theorists providing components to lead a change process, there is a void in the literature of how administrators can use their character strengths and abilities to frame the challenges of complex change in a positive way, which facilitates and fosters effectiveness and optimal experience. This research examined the alignment of character strengths with leadership components for change. Furthermore, this study sought to identify the leadership profiles of components for change that superintendents and principals exhibited based on their relative character strengths. The raters were made up of 18 third-year doctoral students from Northern Illinois University. Additionally, 324 superintendents and principals from 18 counties in northern Illinois completed a strength survey, which allowed for an analysis of leadership profiles of administrators based on specific demographic characteristics. The results of the classification of strengths and components for change by the raters showed that all of the 24 strengths could be aligned within the five components for change. However, the responses from survey participants created an alternative classification, which also displayed alignment of strengths to components for change, but grouping variation was observed. In order to make a meaningful correlation of strengths to leadership components for change, the classification results based on the survey participants was utilized throughout the profile analysis. The findings of the profile analysis illustrate that significant variation in strengths that align with components for change were evident when making comparisons of administrators based on their gender, experience, and their position of either superintendent or principal. The findings of this research sought to create a new niche for the exploration of character strength and the field of positive psychology and its implications for educational leadership, in particular leading change. Furthermore, this study brings to light the implications for administrators to become cognizant of how strengths can contribute to their effectiveness as leaders of change.