Research suggest that educators implement techniques like coaching and mentoring to help their students achieve higher levels of efficacy, which link with superior academic performance (Jain, Chaudhary, & Jain, 2016). Moreover, Dimotakis, Mitchell, and Maurer (2017) argued that assessment and feedback are important for the development of self-efficacy, but cautioned that assessment centers often require investing resources that may be hard to find. It is the job of educational leaders to ensure these types of activities take place, but it is important that these processes are well-guided and grounded on relevant theoretical models.
Unfortunately, when heads of educational organizations are not knowledgeable enough for the task at hand, they might end up relying on their roles as administrators, favoring bureaucratic processes instead of finding ways to motivate others to promote needed changes (Delgado & Loya, 2016). This tends to lead to decreased job satisfaction on the part of faculty and staff, which hurts the chances of creating a favorable environment for accountability and change (Mehrad & Fallahi, 2014). Thus, educational leaders need to be able to articulate their vision to enhance the leadership competencies of their students through the application of theory and the commitment of mindful faculty and staff.
The purpose of this study is to help educational leaders in charge of management and educational leadership programs identify a framework for developing leadership competencies in their students through appropriate assessment, which could lead to data-driven changes in the curriculum and teaching approach. This implies that educational leaders become familiar with a theoretical approach that fits the needs of modern day organizations, and is consistent with the idea that leadership can be taught. Therefore, this study has two specific contributions. First, it serves as an argument for educational leaders to embrace transformational leadership (TL) as a guide for their work with faculty and staff. Second, it provides an example of how one TL model, Kouzes and Posner’s (2012) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, may be implemented as part of an assessment process.
This type of research is not without precedent. Olivares Olivares, Garza Cruz, López Cabrera, and Suárez Regalado (2016) developed their own leadership assessment with 52 academic leaders in Medical Schools from different parts of Mexico. Their justification for conducting the study was the notion that educational organizations need good leaders to promote a culture of quality designed to serve their students. This assumption guides the present study as well. One key difference between the studies is that educational leaders are not the subjects of this research, the students are. In this case, the educational leaders are the audience for the study.
Those in charge in developing future leaders through formal education need to develop their own leadership skills. Previous research shows that leadership style in educational institutions correlates with job satisfaction on the part of faculty and staff (Chiang Vega, Gómez Fuentealba, & Salazar Botello, 2014). As is the case with leaders in different types of organizations, educational leaders should develop their management and decision-making skills to improve performance (Bowers, 2017). Successful leaders in educational organizations are capable of managing external pressures while securing support from internal followers (Cencič & Erčulj, 2014). This allows them to pursue important goals like transparency, efficiency, and equity (Sánchez, 2008), and implement processes that lead to overall educational quality (Fernández Mayo & Méndez Ramírez, 2017). These outcomes then permeate to students, who can then go out into the world and replicate what they have learned from their teachers.
The problem is that leadership development through formal training is seldom measured effectively, and more research is needed to properly validate leadership measures used in educational contexts (Zula, Yarrish, & Christensen, 2010). This would allow leadership development faculty and staff to critically assess their work, and make appropriate adjustments as they move forward. Moreover, it is hard to imagine one standardized measure of leadership that fits the different educational contexts in which leadership development strategies are needed. Therefore, choices need to be made regarding the theoretical approach and the role of cultural effects. Ideally, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to learn alternative measures of leaders that they can try in their classes, and have the liberty to conduct assessment and improvement through trial and error.
Morris and Laipple (2015) noted that leadership training has proven significant in helping educational management students feel better prepared to perform well in administrative duties and deliver superior results with their colleagues and followers. However, it is still unclear what type of leadership training is appropriate for any given group of management students, and how theoretical models apply to the contexts in which such learners operate. Since the range of contexts is wide and the literature on the subject is limited, there is a need to expand on the current approaches available today to measure leader behavior and performance (Ewest, 2015). Again, access to resources and freedom may go a long way as faculty and staff engage in leader development.
It is desirable for educational leaders to engage in learning exercises aimed at increasing their knowledge of leadership theory as it applies to educational contexts. Additionally, these leaders should carefully select one leadership model to conduct outcomes-based assessment, and teaching approaches that facilitate the development of specific leadership competencies. Unfortunately, leadership development in academic programs designed for individuals working in educational institutions has been neglected, and there is little research to support those in charge of managing educational programs to address the issue (Quin, Deris, Bischoff, & Johnson, 2015).
To help narrow the research gap, McCollum and Kajs (2007) validated the 2x2 achievement goal framework to use it as a measure for future research on educational leadership research. Their study helped address issues on educational leadership development among graduate students, at least in terms of goal-orientation. Moreover, Herbst, and Conradie (2011) used Kouzes and Posner’s model to identify the need for greater feedback mechanisms on the performance of educational leaders in South Africa. These efforts are worthy of follow-ups in different contexts, thus the present research.