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A Case Study on Educational Leadership


Demetreio Secondary School is facing a herculean challenge of leadership. The school has been through years of poor leadership, which has resulted in a wrong perception developed in the minds of parents, teachers, and students about their school. As noted from the case study, parents, staff, and children are unsatisfied with the state of leadership within the school with evident conflicts resulting from poor communication and thus leading to low academic achievement. As established in Zaccaro’s (7 – 16) works, Poor leadership traits are also linked to the hierarchical structure. The hierarchical system is believed to demoralize the staff and the development of a “punishment culture”, which is not ideal for good relations among the parties involved including teachers, students, and parents. Another notable weakness with the leadership of the school before the year 2010 is the inability of the principal, who was held as the superior leader with a responsibility to guide the subordinates.

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With a purpose to bring reforms and transform the school, reforms in the leadership structure are the solution that this paper takes. The paper analyzes the case and identifies the problems within the school with poor leadership being the priority issue. The paper looks into the literature covering the issue of leadership and the subsequent improvement required to build an efficient and operational leadership, which will lead the school to a better position in academic excellence. The paper prioritizes Transformational Leadership as the theoretical approach of leadership that would be of considerable help in improving the situation in Demetreio Secondary School. The paper then outlines an action plan, which is ideal to help in establishing solutions to improve leadership in the school. The plan details the purpose, action to be taken, and the ideal way to measure the achievements resulting from the plan.

Literature review

Leadership is termed as a process of social influence used by one person to enlist the support of others in the pursuit of reaching a particular goal or accomplishing a given task. A leader is taken to lead and others follow his or her steps. Within any given organization, the concept of leadership takes priority in management. Kotlyar and Karakowsky (377 – 403) looked into the concept of leadership and argued that it is the guiding principle in any organization. In this context, it can be argued that establishing effective leadership is the solution for any inefficient organization. Change in the leadership structure is eminent when it comes to improving the productivity of the organization within diverse contexts.

Various theories have been espoused by numerous scholars on leadership with concepts and perspectives outlined. These theories have different points of argument that fundamentally explain leadership as a concept and how it is applied within diverse environments. Scholars apply the theories in different contexts and argue their points of view differently. These theories have been undergoing changes and improvements as they are applied in organizations, in the contemporary world.

The great man theory

The great man theory is an ancient theory of leadership, which has been applied in numerous scholarly works. The theory states that leadership thrives on two basic assumptions. The first strong argument is that leaders are born and not made. The second argument is that there is always an emergence of influential leaders who come up when needed. Zaccaro and Klimoski (3 – 41) had earlier espoused that the great man theory was espoused a long time ago when scholars were analyzing influential leaders who were arguably from privileged class and thrived in a system that practised hereditary titles. At this time, lower-class people did not have an opportunity to lead. The Great Man theory argued that whenever a need for leadership came about, the solution rested on a Great Man who would be the solution to the problems. The great man theory had most of the leaders being male, which sidelined discussions of gender issues.

Trait theory

Another grand theory discussing the leadership concept is the trait theory of leadership (Zaccaro 7 – 16). This theory assumes that leaders thrive through inherited traits from their predecessors. The inherited traits are suitable for developing leadership characteristics in individuals. The theory argues that an exceptional leader holds the appropriate skills and the right combination of traits (Zaccaro 7 – 16). According to the words of Zaccaro (7 – 16), trait theory thrives in analyzing leadership characteristics and assessing whether they are ideal to make one a reputable and successful leader. From Montana’s (132 – 138) viewpoint, some of the notable characteristics that make one a principled leader include, intelligence and proper judgments, physical stamina, task competency, high level of understanding, responsible, good relations with the people, ability to motivate people, trustworthy and flexible.

Behavioral theories

Behavioural theories are also critical in analyzing the concept of leadership. The behavioural theory explores leaders in terms of their behaviours and makes assumptions of the ideal behaviour for a reputable and successful leader. This theory negatives earlier arguments that leaderships are inherited (Zaccaro 7 – 16). Mavin and Cavaleri (285 – 289) espoused that this theory supports the notion that ethical traits for leaders are learned and mastered. Therefore, it is a theory, which supports the making of leaders, ideal in management situations and practice. In the behaviour theory, leaders are assessed along with their actions to determine how successful or unsuccessful they are. Ortenblad (129 – 131) added in the explanations of the theory arguing that the behaviour of the leader is paramount and establishes the success of the organization. Behaviour counts in every aspect of organization management. Behaviour determines how the leader relates with the employees and the relations are the determinant of a successful organization. Ortenblad (129 – 131) adds that to have good relations means adopting a servant leader type of leadership that ensures that the voice of the subordinates is heard and the leader handles and satisfies them accordingly.

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Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a theoretical perspective arguing that leaders have a prominent role in inspiring their followers. Judge, Bono, and Gerhardt (765 – 780) argued that the theory looks at successful leaders as those who role model and draw the attention of their followers. The successful leader is, therefore, looked at as one who has a passion for leadership. It has been one of the most used theories in the context of motivating leaders to effective leadership. Ortenblad (129 – 131) in-text wrote that this theory also is ideal in developing enthusiasm and energy among the leaders, which they pass along to the followers and get the work done. In short, it is a theory that supports the encouragement of the followers by the leaders to develop their full potential.

Several assumptions are outlined, which support the transformational leadership perspective. Kotlyar and Karakowsky (377 – 403) argued that people follow a person who is a source of inspiration to them. In this context, they tend to like a passionate leader show shows them the way and appropriately guides them. On the same line of argument, individuals tend to develop a closer relationship with a person who has the vision to achieve positive things. Montana (132 – 138) noted that everyone wants to be part of success, and therefore, they chose wisely as to who they follow. On another perspective, Yukl (31 – 37) argued that people have absolute trust in one whose ways get things done and inject energy to prepare people for later activities. All these arguments support the transformational leadership perspective.

Critical Discussion and application of the Transformational leadership theory

From a general point of view, scholars have discussed the style used by transformational leaders. Zaccaro and Klimoski (3 – 41) noted that working for a transformational Leader is an uplifting experience for people. This is because the leaders are passionate about what they do and they always engage their full potential. The leader is also caring with a great vision of success. Therefore, many scholars tend to use this theoretical perspective in recommending the appropriate leadership approach for effective productivity.

Drugovich, Saatcioglu, and Bilimoria (344 – 361) looked at transformational leadership from the context of their vision. They argued that transformational Leadership applies ideally in diverse organizational contexts because the preliminary step in operations is vision development. The development of a vision is inspiring and motivating as Mavin and Cavaleri (285 – 289) put it because it converts the potential followers who prospect to be part of the envisioned success. The general vision is developed by the transformational leader, who can join forces with a selected team. Judge, Bono, and Gerhardt (765 – 780) appreciated the success of transformational leadership by arguing that a series of discussions is always paramount for transformational leaders because they engage the people to input their viewpoints in the final decision made. This way, the leader then make a decision, and it is appreciated and followed by the others because they were part of the process. Montana (132 – 138) argued that the fact that people accept the ordeal from the leader is because they own the decision-making process, and this is an ideal approach to successful leadership.

Kotlyar and Karakowsky (377 – 403) looked at a transformational leader as having the responsibility to sell the vision. The leader is responsible for all the organization activities and he or she sells the established vision to the people who he or she anticipates following with minimal opposition. The leader is relentless in selling the vision and he never stops until everyone understands and accepts the vision. Yukl (31 – 37) acknowledged transformational leaders because they are energetic and committed, which develops their capacity of selling the vision. Major scholars have also agreed to the assertion that remarkably few people can become transformational leaders because it is demanding and challenging. The biggest challenge is dealing with the diversity in people. Zaccaro and Klimoski (3 – 41) also noted that, in a group of people, few of them buy a radical vision with many others opposing the idea. Convincing those opposing the vision to join the camp takes patience and commitment from the leader, which many leaders do not have.

It is also argued that other people tend to be exceedingly slow in accepting the change yet the leader has to make sure that he or she recruits them to acceptance (Senge 47 – 50). The Transformational Leader capitalizes on every opportunity and makes an effort of using anything at his or her disposal that would work to convince those in the opposition to cross the bridge and streamline with the established vision. Montana (132 – 138) looked at transformational leaders and argued that creating followers is not easy because it also required the creation of the trust. Therefore, leaders should uphold their integrity, which is extremely critical as a package to the successful transformation of followers. In effect, a transformational leader sells a vision and in the same line of argument, sells his or her integrity.

Ortenblad (129 – 131) noted that even with the transformational Leader lobbying for organizational development, he banks on the assumption that followers will also transform. The leader anticipates that, with the appropriate strategies, followers can change and become like him or her (Senge 47 – 50). The comprehensive change is ideal for an overhaul transformation within an organization and to the benefit of long-term success within the organization (Senge 47 – 50). Judge, Bono, and Gerhardt (765 – 780) argued that the change in followers is the ideal product that a leader should go for because it is the ultimate step to transformation. When followers transform, they support the vision as espoused by the leader and they influence each other to follow the vision to the letter. Based on many arguments from other scholars Montana (132 – 138) argued that transformational leaders are charismatic. Being charismatic means that they are not narcissistic and thus, their success draws from a belief in themselves and others. The transformational leader counts on the support of the others for a successful implementation of the established vision.

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However, Zaccaro and Klimoski (3 – 41) noted that there are several weaknesses in using transformational leadership to bring about change. A notable weakness from this perspective is the fact that not everything that a leader says is right. There are times when the leader is wrong and their views have negative consequences to the organization. At this point, their views should not count based on the fate of the organization. Therefore, following everything from a leader who is perceived as charismatic is at times an enormous mistake from the followers’ point of view. Enthusiastic leaders have been identified with successful transformation of the organization, but cases have been established in which the leaders fail.

Kouzes and Posner (5 – 16) also noted that paradoxically the energy, which people develop from the motivation by the charismatic leader, could also be negative when the same people give up. The people tend to revolt against the leader in controversial situations. Kaiser, Hogan, and Craig (96 – 101) noted that simple mistakes in the context of working with people are one of the worst times within an organization. This is because people are unforgiving and careless about explanations when an issue they hold dear fails. Because of this, people give up and use the same enthusiastic energy they had to revolt against the leader, and his or her initiatives. Sue (66 – 80) also noted that transformational Leaders often are overenthusiastic, and a relentless application of enthusiasm is unfit for the followers because they do not have the same energy. Therefore, the followers tend to wear out in the process and they give up, which is disastrous to the vision as established for the entire organization. Adding to the weaknesses of the transformational leadership perspective, Montana (132 – 138) argued that there are situations within an organization that do not require a change. Being a transformational Leader, these are always challenging, and they frustrate him or her, therefore, lowering their motivation to follow their principles in future.

Arguably, it can be argued that the transformational leadership perspective has weaknesses but it is an ideal approach in bringing change to an organization (Senge 47 – 50). The idea is to have someone start over again within an organization by establishing a vision. The person then sells the idea to the followers who through patience and perseverance accept and own the vision. The ultimate cause is the implementation of the vision within the organization, which works appropriately for bringing change and transformation an organization into a successful organization. Reflecting on the case study of Demetreio Secondary School, transformational leadership would be ideal in transforming the institution and bringing back its glory in the light of academic performance.

Action Plan to Improve Leadership

The problem at Demetreio Secondary School has been identified as resulting from poor leadership. The ideal solution is to establish a plan that will improve leadership at the institution and create a favourable environment, which will enhance academic excellence.

A survey is paramount at the initial stage of the plan. This entails a practice in which the teachers, students and the parents give feedback on issues, procedures and policies established by the institution in the earlier phase of leadership. This will evaluate how the previous leadership failed and what to implement in the plan to bring forth solutions. The surveys should be based on the periodic happenings held as critical to streamline the operations of an organization and lead it to success in future.

Overhaul of the hierarchical style

To start the plan, an overhaul of the hierarchical style of leadership established in the previous leadership would be ideal (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). This is an excellent start as it would bring forth some of the solutions for the problems identified as being perpetuated by this style of leadership. The first step is to start a new with a new structure of leadership, which will protect every employee, student and parent and deliver exceptional relations between them. Changing the hierarchical structure to a participative leadership style is ideal in this case. Participative leadership style is a strategy in which the leader recruits employees in all activities of the organization related to decision making (Kouzes and Posner 5 – 16). In this context, involving a few teachers and parent representatives is ideal. This would help the senior leadership to establish a structure with which everyone is comfortable. Previous leadership was dictatorial with the structure including a senior principal and three deputies exercising their power at the expense of parents, students and other teachers. With participative leadership style, it will create a strong base and enlighten the principal on the way forward (Yukl 31 – 37). However, the leader should always make the final decision to ensure that there is role conflict is avoided (Sue 66 – 80).

Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement is also part of the big plan (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). Before newly established leadership, teachers complained of being segregated by the leaders noted as thriving in a “punishment culture.” In this context, poor communication has been evident in the school resulting in conflicts and reduced motivation among the teachers. Lowly motivated teachers are a liability to the institution as they are unproductive. Therefore, engaging these teachers is ideal in the plan to improve communication within the institution (Montana 132 – 138). Engaging the teacher means giving them a voice as well as respecting their opinions. Kaiser, Hogan and Craig (96 – 101) also extend to considering and working towards delivering as per their needs. This way, teachers will start to feel appreciated by the leadership within the school and their level of cooperation will go higher. When the parties and departments within the institution cooperate, problem-solving will be much easier, and the institution will be progressive in improving its productivity.

Measuring the weakness and strengths of the previous system

Measuring the weakness and strengths of the previous system of leadership is ideal for institution development (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). A communication survey would be appropriate in this case. This will seek responses from the teachers, students and parents on their perception regarding the previous leadership style. It will also act as a guide to improve the situation and develop solutions to the existent problems.

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Another critical part of the plan is holding regular staff meetings in the institution. As revealed from complaints of earlier leadership, there was little contact between the leaders and the subordinates apart from situations, which involved commands. Holding regular meetings is ideal as it fosters communication and would be ideal in engaging the employees to establish the existent problems and potential areas of improvement (Montana 132 – 138). These meetings encourage open communication, which will lead to a discussion on the preferences in terms of leadership styles and better plans to improve academic excellence in the institution. Therefore, to start over and create rapport between the employees and the leaders, bi-monthly or monthly meetings would be a terrific start for the institution. The idea is to update the employees and other department heads on the plans and anticipated changes within the institution. It will also be an excellent base for encouraging employee input and improving their levels of participation, which will come in at the meetings. Their suggestions, claims, complaints and recommendations would be part of the big success for the institution’s growth.

Arguably, Demetreio Secondary School suffers from inefficiencies in leadership and unclear policies as well as responsibilities. This resulted in everyone in power, making their own decisions in his or her favour and thus leading to conflict. Establishing clear policies and assigning responsibilities is an appropriate way of solving this problem (Kouzes and Posner 5 – 16). It will solve the blame game and hold everyone responsible for his or her actions. Therefore, there will be no more conflicts and everyone will be motivated to work hard to avoid being blamed for institutional failure.

Facilitating an orientation process

After the establishment of the policies, an orientation process is critical for fostering success. The employee orientation process means that everyone will be engaged to learn the new policies and strategies required to foster the growth of the institution (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). It is better to engage new and existing employees in the orientation process. This is because they will affect everyone equally and their implementation will require that everyone is open and willing to play their responsibilities efficiently. The orientation process entails bringing everyone together and making them understand the new policies as established within the organization. Kaiser, Hogan and Craig (96 – 101) noted that from the perspective of organizational management, guiding employees and enlightening them on the way forward makes everyone part of the team. The overall team works with one voice and maintains an established vision. In argument, it is all about making sure that the entire team cooperates and enhancing productivity from everyone within the organization.

Fostering teamwork

Fostering teamwork is the next big step within the institution (Judge, Bono and Gerhardt 765 – 780). After assigning responsibilities and making sure that policies are clear, the next thing is to establish the teamwork spirit. Division within the school has been a liability to the institution because it has resulted in conflict and demoralization of the less powerful. Teamwork means that the leaders will team up and play their roles together while supporting one another. Establishing a common objective is ideal for teamwork (Kaiser, Hogan and Craig 96 – 101). In this case, the objective is to enact change within the institution for long-term academic excellence. The idea is to ensure that group goals are prioritized over individual agendas, which is fruitful to the institution. The principal should also lead by example for others to follow (Yukl 31 – 37). Instilling a positive or can-do attitude is excellent for the institution to strengthen the teamwork spirit (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). Open communication is also advised Morgeson (497 – 508) in the case of Demetreio Secondary School. This will solve the problem emanating from the culture of impunity established in previous leadership. Open communication also fosters accountability among the different parties, which is ideal for the overall success of the institution.

Improving leadership competencies

Improving leadership competencies is also part of strategies to improve academic excellence in the institution (Kouzes and Posner 5 – 16). From a closer overview, the leaders in the previous years in Demetreio Secondary School have been incompetent in playing their roles successfully. A general overview of the principal and the deputies clear indicate that they were inefficient in fostering teamwork and the growth of the institution. Individualism was the greatest fault of the institution, which was dangerous for long-term survival. Thus, improving the skills of the respective leaders is paramount.

This calls for training the leaders and capacitating them in leadership principles and practices (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). The institution needs to invest in fostering successive training for teachers and their heads on teamwork, improved communication, institution growth and achieving academic excellence. Such skills are ideal to develop competencies that foster development within the institution.

Invest in succession management and plan

The other part of the plan is to invest in succession management and plan (Morgeson 497 – 508). From the previous experience of Demetreio Secondary School, it is evident that good leadership had ceased existing and thus tarnished the name of the institution. This was because the leaders did not play their roles adequately and thus it was a disaster to the development of exemplary leadership in the institution. The plan will entail strategies for succession management, which works to build good leaders in future (Yukl 31 – 37). Increasing investment in leadership development for the sake of the future is what leadership at Demetreio Secondary School needs to look into. The plan involves engaging the teachers within the school in leadership roles. This prepares them for bigger roles in the future because they might be selected as part of the team to lead others.

Carry out an anonymous communications survey

As part of the plan, it would also be appropriate to implement another anonymous communications survey. An anonymous survey entails a practice in which employees give feedback on issues, procedures and policies established by the institution and how they are fairing in them (Zaccaro and Klimoski 3 – 41). An evaluation of the way the plan is fairing has been valued by many organizations across the globe. Kotlyar and Karakowsky (377 – 403) noted that periodic evaluations hold as critical to streamline the operations of an organization and lead it to success. This survey is appropriate as a measure as it will guide leaders on the way forward in implementing the grandiose plan established for change. It will reveal the weaknesses and strengths of the plan from which the institution leaders can make suggestions and change accordingly. It is also necessary to establish a follow up of the surveys and the implemented changes so that they address employee concerns.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In summary, Demetreio Secondary School has been facing a herculean challenge of leadership. The school has been through years of poor leadership, which has resulted in a wrong perception developed in the minds of parents, teachers and students about their school. The new leadership appointed in the institution has been mandated to bring in change and enhance improvements within the institution. The transformational Leadership perspective is best applied in this context to establish appropriate solutions to the problem facing the institution. Measuring the weaknesses and strengths of previous leadership structures is the first step in establishing an appropriate plan for redeeming the institution’s glory in academic excellence. Changing the leadership structure is the second step in implementing an ideal plan for future success. A complete overhaul is recommended to establish a new start in leadership within the organization. Introducing participative leadership rather than thriving in the hierarchical structures is recommended. Employee engagement is also paramount in establishing appropriate solutions, which will last for the long term. Teamwork building and improving communication should follow, which will necessitate improved productivity within the institution. Improving leadership competencies is also part of strategies to improve academic excellence in the institution. This is possible through training the leaders and capacitating them through skill improvement. Finally, the plan is ideal when the institutions invest in succession management and plan, which ensures exemplary leadership in the future.

Works Cited

Drugovich, Margaret, Saatcioglu Serdar and Bilimoria Karl. “Institutionalism and transformational leadership: exploring linkages between the two perspectives.” Paper presented at the Academy of Management meeting, 2004.

Judge, Adams, Bono Edward and Gerhardt Michael. “Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 87.4 (2002): 765 – 780.

Kaiser, Barina, Hogan Robert and Craig, Stephen. “Leadership and the Fate of Organizations.” American Psychologist, 63.2 (2008): 96 – 101.

Kotlyar, Igor and Karakowsky, Len. “Leading Conflict? Linkages between Leader Behaviours and Group Conflict.” Small-Group Research, 37. 4 (2006): 377 – 403.

Kouzes, James and Posner Becker. The leadership challenge. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass, 2002.

Mavin, Hill and Cavaleri Sara. “Viewing learning organizations through a social learning lens.” The Learning Organization, 11. 3 (2004): 285 – 289.

Montana, Patrick J. and Charnov Bruce H. Management: Leadership and Theory. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, 2008.

Morgeson, Frederick. “The External Leadership of Self-Managing Teams: Intervening in the Context of Novel and Disruptive Events.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 90.3 (2005): 497 – 508.

Ortenblad, Anders. “The learning organization: towards an integrated model.” The Learning Organization, 11(3) (2004): 129 – 131.

Senge, Peter. “Taking personal change seriously: the impact of organizational learning on management practice.” Academy of Management Executive, 17.2 (2003): 47 – 50.

Sue, Law. “Leadership for learning: The changing culture of professional development in schools.” Journal of Educational Administration, 37.1 (1999): 66 – 80.

Yukl, Gary. Leadership in Organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2006.

Zaccaro, Stephen. “Trait-based perspective.” American Psychology, 62. 1 (2007): 7 – 16.

Zaccaro, Stephen and Klimoski Richard. “The nature of organizational leadership: An introduction.” In S. J. Zaccaro & R. J. Klimoski (Eds.), the nature of organizational leadership: Understanding the performance imperatives confronting today’s leaders. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, (2001): 3 – 41.

Zaccaro, Stephen and Rittman Bruce. “Team leadership.” Leadership Quarterly, 12.4 (2001): 451 – 483.

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