School leadership: A study investigating how emergent formal school leaders understand and collaborate with informal leaders to develop a better understanding of the terrain they are entering

Gloria R Hancock, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore practices of leadership, the roles and influences of informal leaders and their impact in developing the organization's (a secondary level school) efficacy, an area largely unexplored. Studies show that schools face a shortage of formal leaders resulting in the need for a new approach to school leadership. This study examines how, by adopting a distributed leadership perspective, formal school leaders can empower teachers and others within the school to make decisions, provide guidance and increase leadership capacity in order to build on and manage internal and external social networks using different forms of capital: human, social, economic, and cultural. The study of school leadership practices further investigates how emergent (incoming) formal school leaders understand and collaborate with informal leaders to develop a better understanding of the terrain they are entering. The overarching focus of this study is to consider the extent to which an emergent formal school leader can accomplish organizational goals using data gathered from informal school leaders from social network analysis as an entry strategy. This is largely a descriptive study utilizing mixed methods to collect data. The interactions of teachers and faculty at the study site were traced throughout the study using a survey and interviews. The data collected from the surveys was entered into UCINET, a web-based computer software product that enabled visual mapping (sociogram) of social networks in existence at the study site. Results from this study have shed light on informal leadership practice through social network analysis of relationships within the school system and identified the informal leaders and the ways they can and do assist others. Based on the data, informal leaders acquire, use and rely on various types of social capital in the form of innovation as their primary means in accomplishing their work as well as assisting others. This exploration into the practice and role of informal leadership is important given the complexity in leading schools and the average tenure of those individuals serving in a formal leadership capacity.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Hancock, Gloria R, "School leadership: A study investigating how emergent formal school leaders understand and collaborate with informal leaders to develop a better understanding of the terrain they are entering" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310474.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3310474

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