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THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP STYLES ON TEACHERS WORKING MORALE IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background to the Study
Northouse (2004) defined leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of other individuals to achieve a common goal”. Miller, Walker and Drummond (2002) view leadership style as the pattern of interactions between leaders and subordinates. Koontz and O’Donnell (1959) explain that leadership is a way of influencing people to follow achieving of a common goal. Crosby and Bryson (1999) further expound that leadership is the inspiration and mobilization of others to undertake collective action in pursuit of a common goal. It includes controlling, directing, indeed all techniques and methods used by leaders to motivate subordinates to follow their instructions. It is a procedure to influence the people in order to achieve the desired result.
Armstrong (2004) argues that leadership focuses on getting people to move in the right direction, gaining their commitment and motivating them to achieve their goals. School leaders (i.e., head teachers and school board) are therefore supposed to possess ability of influencing teachers, parents and other stakeholders of education to make sure that their schools are successfully attaining its intended objectives by making sure that teachers perform well their responsibilities and learners perform well in their academics as anticipated.
Leadership style is the way in which the functions of leadership are carried out, the way in which the manager typically behaves towards members of the group (Mullins, 2006). There are many dimensions way of describing leadership styles. According to Mullins (2006), there are three basic leadership styles which are autocratic, laissez fair and democratic. The main difference among these styles is where the decision making function rests. The Autocratic leadership style is where the focus of power is within the group more than move towards the manager. The manager alone exercises 3 decision – making and authority for determining policy, procedures for achieving goals, work tasks and relationships, control of rewards or punishment. The Democratic leadership style is where the focus of power is more within the group as a whole and there is greater interaction within the group.
The leadership functions are shared with members of the group and the manager is more part of a team. The group members have a greater say in decision-making, determination of policy, implementation of systems and procedures. A Laissez-faire leadership style is where the manager observes the members of the group working well on their own. The manager consciously makes decisions to pass the focus of power to members, to allow them freedom of action to do as they think best; and not to interfere, but is readily available if help is needed. Leadership style used at school level is very important in promoting teachers‟ working morale at school. Hollinger (2010) stated that low teachers‟ morale decreases engagement with colleagues and students, diminishes productivity, reduces student learning and breeds cynicism. He adds that when teachers‟ morale is high and the faculty of culture is healthy, students excel socially and academically. Moreover, teachers are collaborative and productive and social environment is dynamic and engaging.
In spite of the important role of leaders on teachers working morale, other issues (e.g., compensation, students‟ disreputable behaviors‟) have also been affecting teachers‟ working morale such as meagre incomes. The teachers‟ strike of 2012 justifies the argument. Omari (2013) reported that while all these happen, the public relations group of the ministry does not seem to be active to defend teachers. Another observation shows that even community members demoralize teachers.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
When consideration is given to the demands made on teachers today, school climate and teacher morale become serious issues that must be addressed by school leaders. One of the jobs of the school leader is to create a school climate where the classroom teacher can feel safe and confident to perform her job. Since the largest professional portion of a school system is the teaching staff, it is important that the teachers have positive attitudes; the behaviors, attitudes, and actions of other teachers can greatly affect the overall teacher morale level in a school. Schools that employ teachers with high morale tend to have a school climate that facilitates an increased level of commitment from its entire staff (Lester, 1990). Conversely, schools that employ teachers with low morale tend to have an atmosphere of apathy that can retard school progress and the development of its students (Hardy, 1999). Teacher morale can dictate the general feel or climate of a school; therefore, in order for students to have the greatest opportunity to excel, teacher morale cannot be low.
It is however observed that most primary schools in Nigeria, particularly government owned schools are facing the problems of lack of teachers‟ working morale due to leadership styles. Hollinger (2010) stated that effective and supportive leadership contribute significantly to high level of teachers‟ morale, while ineffective, that is unsupportive leadership, causes low teachers‟ morale. Teachers‟ morale to work is important for students‟ effective learning and performance. Teachers‟ morale is influenced by effective and supportive leadership, which encourages and guides them on what to perform, listens to their experiences and suggestions, and thus defends them in their problems.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the role of leadership styles on teachers working morale in primary schools, specifically the study intends to:
1. Investigate the leadership styles practiced in primary schools.
2. Examine the teachers‟ perception on the exercised leadership styles.
3. Find out different ways in which the practiced leadership style affect teachers Morale.
4. Find out the most effective leadership style(s) that influence teachers‟ working morale.