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The effects of transformational leadership on academic optimism within elementary schools

Dissertation
Author: II Richard Dean Rutledge
Abstract:
This study examined the relationship between transformational leadership and academic optimism. Elementary schools in northern Alabama were the focus of this study. Sixty-seven schools participated in this study. Faculty members of the participating schools completed two survey instruments: Leithwood's school leadership survey and the school academic optimism survey (SAOS). There were 470 respondents to the instruments. All data were aggregated to the school level. The independent variable for this study was Leithwood's model of transformational leadership. Conceptually, Leithwood defines transformational leadership as a form of principal leadership that moves individuals toward a level of commitment to achieve school goals by setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program. The dependent variable of this study was academic optimism. Hoy, Tarter, and Hoy defined academic optimism as the general and collective confidence of a school's faculty that conditions exist for students to achieve academic success. Academic optimism is comprised of three organizational characteristics: teacher collective efficacy, academic emphasis, and faculty trust in clients. Prior research has found that principal activities focusing on the learning environment, emphasizing academic achievement, and establishing high performance goals can influence student achievement. Furthermore, previous studies support the positive relationship between transformational leadership and student engagement, classroom instruction, teacher commitment, organizational learning, school culture, job satisfaction, changed teacher practices, and particularly collective efficacy. This study theorized that transformational leadership and academic optimism would be positively correlated. Results of correlation testing indicated that Leithwood's model of transformational leadership is positively related to the academic optimism of the school. The results of linear regression testing showed that each individual category of Leithwood's model of transformational leadership was also positively related to academic optimism. These results provided support for the hypotheses of this study; the greater the degree of transformational leadership the greater the degree of academic optimism in a school.

CONTENTS ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................................... ii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................. iv

LIST OF TABLES ......................................................................................................................... ix

1 INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................1

Problem Statement ...............................................................................................................3

Rationale for the Study ........................................................................................................3

Background of the Study .....................................................................................................5

Transformational Leadership .........................................................................................5

Academic Optimism ......................................................................................................7

Definition of Concepts .........................................................................................................9

Research Questions ............................................................................................................11

Research Hypotheses .........................................................................................................11

Limitations .........................................................................................................................12

Summary ............................................................................................................................12

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .........................................................................................14

Conceptual Framework ......................................................................................................14

Development of Transformational Leadership ............................................................14

Leithwood’s Model of Transformational Leadership ..................................................16

Criticism of Transformational Leadership ...................................................................30

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Development of Academic Optimism .........................................................................32

Theoretical Framework ......................................................................................................41

Transformational Leadership and Academic Optimism ..............................................42

Academic Optimism and Student Performance ...........................................................43

Rationale and Hypotheses ..................................................................................................44

3 METHODOLOGY ..................................................................................................................47

Sample................................................................................................................................47

Research Instruments .........................................................................................................48

Leithwood’s Leadership Instrument ............................................................................48

School Academic Optimism Survey (SAOS) ..............................................................49

Data Analysis .....................................................................................................................51

4 RESULTS ................................................................................................................................52

Descriptive Statistics ..........................................................................................................52

Reliability and Factor Analysis Testing .............................................................................53

Correlations ........................................................................................................................58

Test of Hypotheses .............................................................................................................60

Un-hypothesized Findings .................................................................................................61

5 DISCUSSION, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS .......................................63

Discussion of Research Findings .......................................................................................63

Transformational Leadership was Positively Related to Academic Optimism (r = 48, p < .01) ............................................................................................................64

Setting Direction was Positively Related to Academic Optimism (r = 45, p < .01) ............................................................................................................64

Developing People was Positively Correlated to Academic Optimism (r = .40, p < .01) ...........................................................................................................64

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Redesigning the Organization was Positively Related to Academic Optimism (r = 49, p < .01) ............................................................................................................64

Managing the Instructional Program was Positively Correlated to Academic Optimism (r = .49, p < .01) .........................................................................65

A Factor Analysis Confirmed that Setting Direction, Developing People, Redesigning the Organization, and Managing the Instructional Program Comprise a Single Construct, Transformational Leadership .......................................65

Findings not Hypothesized ..........................................................................................65

Theoretical and Practical Implications...............................................................................66

The Relationship between Transformational Leadership Practices and Academic Optimism......................................................................................................................67

Transformational Leadership--Confirming a Construct ..............................................75

Findings not Hypothesized ..........................................................................................76

Recommendations for Further Study .................................................................................77

Conclusion and Final Summary .........................................................................................78

REFERENCES ..............................................................................................................................80

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LIST OF TABLES

1 School-level Research-based Leadership Practices Related with Vision Building .................18

2 School Principals’ Practices Targeted Toward Goal Setting ...................................................19

3 Practices that Create High Performance Expectations .............................................................20

4 Practices that Provide Individual Support ................................................................................22

5 Practices that Foster Intellectual Stimulation ..........................................................................23

6 Four Types of Leader Modeling ..............................................................................................24

7 Practices that Build School Culture .........................................................................................26

8 Practices that Build a Collaborative School Culture ................................................................26

9 Practices that Foster Shared Decision-making Practices .........................................................27

10 Descriptive Statistic .................................................................................................................53

11 Leadership Survey Alpha Reliability Results ..........................................................................54

12 Academic Optimism Survey Alpha Reliability Results ...........................................................55

13 Factor Analysis of Transformational Leadership Instrument ..................................................55

14 Factor Analysis of Categories of Transformational Leadership ..............................................57

15 Pearson Correlation Coefficients of All Variables ..................................................................58

16 Correlation and Regression Statistics of Academic Optimism and Categories of Transformational Leadership (N = 67) ....................................................................................60

17 Correlation and Regression Statistics of Academic Optimism and Categories of Transformational Leadership and SES (N = 67) ......................................................................62

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION For the past 50 years, education in the United States has been driven by government mandates to improve student achievement. These have come in the form of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, A Nation at Risk (1983), and most recently the reauthorization of ESEA through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002. Each of these legislative acts has forced educators to focus on learning strategies and practices that will increase student performance. NCLB has stated goals that 100% of our nation’s children will be grade-level proficient in math and language arts by the year 2014. The accountability demands of legislative acts increase the need for educational research, which will increase student performance beyond the socioeconomic constraints of students, families, and communities. School leaders must stay abreast of the latest educational research and be prepared to initiate change within his or her school. Effective change within schools is determined by the actions of the school principal (Edmonds, 1979). Leaders within a school must be agents of change, continually seeking to improve school performance through effective reform. Leithwood, Jantzi, and Steinbach (1999) assert that transformational leadership practices are conducive to positive results in school reform efforts. Transformational leaders foster higher levels of motivation and commitment to the organization by developing organizational vision, commitment and trust among employees, and facilitating organizational learning (Bennis & Nanus, 1985). Bass (1985), Yukl (1989), and

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Leithwood et al. (1999) have all concurred that traditional models of school leadership (instructional or managerial) are not as useful for school leaders as transformational approaches. Leithwood and Jantzi’s (2005) review of transformational leadership research found five of nine quantitative research studies that reported significant relationships between transformational leadership and some measure of achievement. They determined that these results do not allow for a clear conclusion to be drawn. However, this model of leadership has been shown to have positive relationships to improvement in such areas as student engagement (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000), classroom instruction (Marks & Printy, 2003), teacher’s level of effort and commitment (Geijsel, Sleegers, Leithwood, & Jantzi, 2003), and organizational learning in schools (Silins, Mulford, Zarins, & Bishop, 2000). Furthermore, Leithwood and Jantzi’s (2005) review of transformational leadership research determined several mediating variables (school culture, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, changed teacher practices, planning strategies for change, pedagogical or instructional quality, organizational learning, and collective teacher efficacy) in which this form of leadership had a positive effect. Particular organization variables such as, collective teacher efficacy, faculty trust, and academic emphasis, are organizational characteristics that have been shown to each have direct influence in increasing student achievement (Bandura, 1993; Goddard, Hoy, & Woolfolk, 2000; Goddard, Sweetland, & Hoy, 2000; Hoy & Sabo, 1998; Hoy, Sweetland, & Smith, 2002; Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp, 1991). Hoy and his colleagues (2006) have linked these three characteristics of schools into a single latent construct which has been justly named academic optimism. Therefore, student achievement gains can be made in schools where leaders exhibit transformational practices that enhance the academic optimism of the school.

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Problem Statement School leaders are continually being charged with increasing student achievement. One way to increase student achievement could be the relationship between school leadership and organizational characteristics that have been proven to increase achievement. This research project examines whether or not there is a positive relationship between transformational leadership behaviors as defined by Leithwood (1999) and academic optimism. The determination of a positive link between these two constructs will provide insight into leadership behaviors that can lead to an increase in student achievement. Leithwood and Mascall (2008) support continued leadership research on mediators which have been shown to produce positive effects on students. This study also seeks to examine if the factors measuring transformational leadership as defined by Leithwood (1999) are stable. Determining the stability of the factors measuring transformational leadership will provide support to Leithwood’s research. Therefore, transformational leadership and academic optimism are the primary variables studied in this research.

Rationale for the Study Transformational leadership was described by Bennis (1959) as a leader’s capacity to raise another person’s consciousness, build meanings, and inspire human intent. Burns (1978) furthered this conceptualization by stating that transformational leadership is the foregoing of self-interest by the leader and the follower to cause a particular goal or outcome that will benefit all involved. Research has shown that transformational leaders inspire and motivate followers in ways that increase employee performance more than leaders who are not transformational (Avolio, Waldman, & Einstein, 1988; Howell & Avolio, 1993). In 2004, Griffin linked effective

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leadership with transformational leadership. Griffin asserted that principals who display transformational leadership skills have school faculty with higher job satisfaction, which showed a moderate positive relationship to progress in student achievement. This research does not seek to prove that transformational leadership is better than other forms (instructional, distributive, etc.), but rather to build on prior research that has shown that the contributions of this form of leadership has produced significant results in other organizational characteristics (collective efficacy, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, etc.). Hallinger and Heck (1998) asserted that positive outcomes (student achievement) of this form of leadership are mediated by other factors such as teacher commitment, instructional practice, or school culture (Leithwood, 1994). Schools are being mandated to improve academic performance. School leaders must initiate organizational changes that will impact the learning environment. This study establishes a connection between transformational leadership practices and academic optimism, which has been linked to increasing student performance even when controlling for socioeconomic status (Bandura, 1993; Goddard, Hoy, & Woolfolk, 2000; Goddard, Sweetland, & Hoy, 2000; Hoy & Sabo, 1998; Hoy, Sweetland, & Smith, 2002; Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp, 1991). Transformational leadership has been shown to predict significantly a positive school culture consisting of norms, beliefs, and values (Deal & Peterson, 1999). In Leithwood’s (1999) conceptualization of transformational leadership, he insists that this style of leadership is conducive to creating a productive school culture and a structure of shared decision-making. These are necessary conditions for a school strong in academic optimism. The factors of academic optimism (collective efficacy, academic emphasis, and faculty trust) will be fostered by a principal leadership focused on transformational behaviors.

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Background of the Study Transformational Leadership In 1985, Bass contrasted Burns’ 1978 view of transformational leadership by declaring that the best leaders exemplify characteristics of both transformational and transactional leadership. His model represented a transformational to transactional continuum of leadership. Bass (1985) conceptualized transformational leadership into four components that represented transformational leadership: intellectual stimulation, individual consideration, idealized influence, and inspirational motivation, known as the four “I’s.” These are the leader behaviors that create enthusiasm for subordinates to have an enhanced effort in pursuing organizational goals in spite of adverse conditions and hindrances. His model also included three transactional dimensions, contingent reward, management by exception, and laissez-faire. It is significant to note that these initial constructs of transformational leadership played an influential role in guiding Leithwood’s development of his transformational leadership model, but his model of school leadership was derived from his own qualitative and quantitative research (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006). Leithwood and his colleagues have provided extensive research on the effects of transformational leadership when applied to schools (Leithwood, 1994; Leithwood & Duke, 1999; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Leithwood, Jantzi, & Fernandez, 1994; Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999; Leithwood, Menzies, & Jantzi, 1999). Leithwood’s model of transformational leadership with regard to school leaders offers a different perspective from the “classical” views of Burns and Bass. An example of this would be Leithwood’s attention to building productive community relationships, which is not addressed in earlier models.

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The Leithwood model initially conceptualized transformational leadership into eight dimensions: creating vision, developing group goals, maintaining high performance expectations, modeling, providing individual support, providing intellectual stimulation, building a productive school culture, and building structures for collaborations (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Fernandez, 1994). Recent research by Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) has suggested the addition of a ninth dimension: building good relations with parents. Leithwood’s model also includes management dimensions that address the transactional component of transformational leadership. These are as follows: establishing effective staffing practices, providing instructional support, monitoring school activities, and buffering staff from excessive and distracting external demands. Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Hopkins, and Harris (2006) have further grouped these dimensions into four categories: setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2005; Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999, Leithwood & Riehl, 2005; Leithwood, Seashore-Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004). They describe these categories as the “core practices” or the “basics” of successful school leadership. According to Leithwood and his colleagues (2006), these categories encompass specific leader behaviors that are common among successful school leaders. Setting direction focuses on the activities of the leader that build a clear school vision, establish school goals, and create high performance expectations. These are the dimensions of a school leader that will establish him or her as transformational. Developing people is comprised of providing individualized support, intellectual stimulation, and modeling. These leader activities seek to establish a culture within the school that builds the individual capacity of the teacher while maintaining focus on common goals.

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These activities provide the necessary motivation to teachers by providing examples of best practice, encouragement, personal attention, and recognition for a job well done. Redesigning the organization is the category designated to produce change. The dimensions of this group are establishing a productive school culture, fostering participative decision making, and building good relations with parents. The activities of this group give teachers a sense of ownership within the organization. Teachers begin to feel empowered through participative decision making, which leads to a belief in their abilities to make a difference in the classroom and the school as a whole (Leithwood et al., 1999). Managing the instructional program is a grouping of managerial leadership practices. These are the behaviors that will create a strong and stable organizational structure. Activities associated with this category are staffing the program, providing instructional support, monitoring school activity, and buffering staff from distractions to their work. These are the leader practices that will provide coordinated support for programs initiated for school improvement (Leithwood et al., 2006).

Academic Optimism Academic optimism is a collection of school characteristics that have all been previously linked to academic achievement. These characteristics are teacher collective efficacy, teacher trust in clients, and academic emphasis. Conceptually, Hoy, Tarter, & Woolfolk Hoy (2006) have defined academic optimism as the general and collective confidence of a school’s faculty that conditions exist for students to achieve academic success. Collective efficacy is a group belief that the ability exists to affect change within an organization. Collective efficacy is a group assignment to the concept of self-efficacy that was

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fostered by Bandura (1989). The research of Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy, and Hoy (1998a) established self-efficacy as an important factor within schools. Furthermore, they concluded that many problems faced by teachers “require that they work together as a collective force to change the lives of their students” (Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998a, p. 241). Pajares (1994, 1997), Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, and Hoy (1998a), and Goddard, Hoy, and Woolfolk Hoy (2000) established a strong link between the efficacy beliefs of a school (self and collective) with academic achievement. Hoy and Miskel (1996) asserted that the shared beliefs of members (teachers) of an organization (school) influence the social setting of the school. Faculty trust in students and parents is a collective school property, which is the willingness on the part of teachers to be vulnerable to the clients (students and parents) of a school because the latter party is benevolent, reliable, competent, honest, and open (Hoy & Tschannen-Moran, 2003). Bryk and Schneider (2002) suggested that trust was an essential factor for school improvement. There are five facets of trust: benevolence, reliability, competence, honesty, and openness (Tschannen-Moran, & Hoy, 2000). Goddard, Tschannen-Moran, and Hoy (2001) determined that trust creates a better learning environment for students by facilitating and empowering positive connections between families and schools. Faculty trust has been positively linked to student achievement (Goddard et al., 2001; Hoy, Tarter, & Bliss, 1990; Tarter, Bliss, & Hoy, 1989; Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2000). Academic emphasis is an organizational construct that defines the “extent to which a school is driven by academic excellence” (Hoy, Sweetland, & Smith, 2002, p. 79). Academic emphasis is a multi-faceted construct in which a school has set high achievable goals, there is a serious and orderly learning environment, and there is high student motivation for academic

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success (Hoy & Miskel, 2005; Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp, 1991). In 1989, Lee and Bryk found that a school’s academic focus was linked to student achievement regardless of socioeconomic status or minority status. Hoy and his colleagues (1990) provided further support that the academic emphasis of a school was a major factor in academic achievement beyond the effects of socioeconomic status. Hoy and his colleagues initially described academic emphasis as a component of a healthy school climate (Hoy et al., 1991, Hoy & Sabo, 1998; Hoy & Tarter, 1997). Hoy and Hannum (1997) described the climate of a school as “the set of internal characteristics that distinguishes one school from another and influences the behavior of its members” (p. 291). Academic emphasis is a vital component in school climate. This trait of school climate is essential to the belief of the school’s students and faculty that academics are important (Goddard, Sweetland, & Hoy, 2000). Schools that exhibit the essential characteristics of academic emphasis are uniquely intertwined with a healthy school climate. The school climate is a characteristic of the entire school based on the perceptions of its members that arise from behaviors that are not only important to the members, but also influence member behaviors (Sweetland & Hoy, 2000).

Definition of Concepts Key terms in this study are defined below. Academic emphasis: a school’s general and collective perspective on the importance of academics (Goddard et al., 2000; Hoy, Smith, & Sweetland, 2002). Academic Emphasis is operationally defined using a subtest of the Organizational Health Index (OHI).

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Academic optimism: the general and collective confidence of a school’s faculty that conditions exist for students to achieve academic success (Hoy, et. al., 2006). Academic optimism is defined using the School Academic Optimism Survey (SAOS). Collective efficacy: a group level trait representing the collective judgments of organizational group members regarding the extent that the group as a whole can cause a particular outcome (Bandura, 1997). Operationally, collective efficacy is defined using the Collective Efficacy Scale. Principal leadership: building level administrator who works with others to provide direction and who exert influence on persons and things in order to achieve the desired goals of the school (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003). Teacher collective efficacy: the shared beliefs of the capability of teachers and principals that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have a positive effect on students (Hoy & Miskel, 2005). Transformational leadership: a leader’s capacity to raise another’s consciousness, build meanings, and inspire human intent (Bennis, 1959). Burns (1978) declared that transformational leadership was the foregoing of self-interest by the leader and the led to cause a particular goal or outcome that will benefit all. A form of principal leadership that moves individuals toward a level of commitment to achieve school goals by setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program (Leithwood et al., 2006). Transformational leadership is operationally defined using Leithwood’s Successful Leadership questionnaire.

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Trust: a person’s willingness to be vulnerable to another based upon the confidence that the other party is benevolent, reliable, competent, open, and honest (Hoy & Tschannen-Moran, 2003). Operationally, trust is defined using the Omnibus Trust Scale.

Research Questions The data gathered for the purpose of this study were analyzed to answer the following research questions: 1. Does transformational leadership activities of the principal influence the academic optimism of a school? 2. Are the dimensions measuring transformational leadership, setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program, each influential in increasing the academic optimism of the school? 3. Are the factors measuring transformational leadership stable?

Research Hypotheses The preceding research questions give rise to the following set of hypotheses that guided the empirical phase of this research: H1: The more transformational leadership style of the principal of a school, the more academic optimism within the school. H2: Each category of transformational leadership, setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program, will be positively related to the academic optimism within the school. H3: Transformational leadership is a function of four categories of behavior.

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Limitations Data for this study was collected through surveys administered to elementary school teachers in Alabama. Care was taken to obtain authentic teacher opinions with respect to the topics discussed in this study. The survey instruments used have been shown in previous studies to be valid and reliable measures of the constructs tested. This study assumes that teachers gave honest responses to survey questions. This study was limited to elementary schools in Alabama that contained at least the fourth grade for the purposes of obtaining common student achievement data. The schools in the sample were drawn from a group of school districts that consented to participate in this study. The sample for this study was not random and caution should be used when generalizing the results.

Summary For the purpose of this query, Leithwood’s (1999) conceptual definition of transformational leadership was used. This model establishes transformational leadership along nine dimensions: building school vision, establishing school goals, providing intellectual stimulation, offering individualized support, modeling best practices and important organizational values, demonstrating high performance expectations, creating a productive school culture, developing structures to foster participation in school decisions, and fostering productive school and parent relationships. These nine dimensions have been placed into three categories, which comprise transformational leadership. The categories are setting direction, developing people, and redesigning the organization. The management (transactional) dimensions of leadership are staffing, providing instructional support, monitoring school

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activities, and buffering teachers from distractions to their job. These comprise the category of managing the instructional program. It is through these four categories this study examined transformational leadership. This study proposed that there is a direct connection among the constructs of transformational leadership and academic optimism. I declare that the components necessary for academic optimism are directly related to Leithwood’s conceptualization that transformational leadership will provide intellectual stimulation, establish high expectations, build school vision, offer individualized support, and model best practices and important school values while providing the necessary structure to establish a culture that will foster productive teacher/teacher, teacher/student, teacher/parent, and teacher/principal relationships (Leithwood et al., 1999).

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CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The purpose of this chapter is to provide a conceptual and historical review of the literature related to the variables involved in this study, transformational leadership and academic optimism. This chapter will provide the conceptual development of transformational leadership and academic optimism. In conclusion, a theory and testable hypotheses explaining the relationship of the two variables will be proposed.

Conceptual Framework Development of Transformational Leadership As with many other forms of leadership, transformational leadership has been interpreted and conceptualized in many ways. Bennis (1959) introduced us to the view that transformative leadership was a person’s capacity to raise another person’s consciousness, build meanings, and inspire human intent. Burns (1978) declared that transformational leadership was the foregoing of self-interest by the leader and the follower to cause a particular goal or outcome that will benefit all. Bass (1985) chose to modify Burns’ definition into a two-factor theory that poses transformational and transactional leadership as the two ends of a leadership continuum. This meant that leaders could be both transformational and transactional and the two could complement each other. It was from this conceptualization that Leithwood (1994) initially identified eight factors that comprised his model of transformational leadership.

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Whether it is Bennis, Burns, Bass, or Leithwood, transformational leadership is a leadership strategy that is founded on the relationship of the leader and those being led. Bass (1985) characterized this relationship into four qualities: idealized influence, inspiration, individual consideration, and intellectual stimulation. These have more recently been referred to as the four I’s (Bass & Avolio, 1993, 1994). The opposing end of the relational leadership continuum would have transactional leadership with the three dimensions of contingent reward, management-by-exception, and laissez-faire or “hands off” leadership. Bass’s (1985) two-factor theory allows for transformational and transactional leadership practices to work together. Bass argues that the best leaders are both transformational and transactional. These leadership practices actually build on one another and work together to ensure that organizational needs are continually being met (Bass & Avolio, 1993). Transactional practices foster the continuation of the daily routines, while transformational leadership is necessary for organizational change (Leithwood, Tomlinson, & Genge, 1996). Transformational leaders have often been deemed to be very charismatic and have the ability to inspire their followers. Bass (1985) asserted that transformational leaders use inspiration to communicate organizational vision and establish a strong school culture. In communicating their vision, leaders allow followers to become informed about the significance of their efforts in accomplishing organizational goals (Yukl & Van Fleet, 1992). Transformational leaders have the ability to develop a personal rapport with their followers by providing individual consideration by serving as a mentor or coach (Bass & Avolio, 1993). The establishment of relationships built on inspiration and personal attention foster an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation. The leader is able to encourage followers to think creatively and recommend ideas (Bass, 1985). The leader’s willingness to challenge assumptions

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and take risks builds the foundation for employee motivation, commitment, and extra-effort, which are necessary to initiate change within the organization (Yukl, 1989).

Leithwood’s Model of Transformational Leadership Leithwood presents the most fully developed conceptualization of transformational leadership in relation to schools. Therefore, there are dimensions associated with other conceptualizations of transformational leadership that are either absent (charisma) or are given quite different significance (transactional practices) when compared to Leithwood’s model (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006). Furthermore, being designed for schools from his own qualitative and quantitative research, Leithwood’s model includes dimensions of practice (creating productive community relationships) not found in prior models of transformational leadership. It is because of these distinctions and significance for school research that Leithwood’s model of transformational leadership was chosen for this study. The nine dimensions (building school vision, establishing school goals, providing intellectual stimulation, offering individualized support, modeling best practices and important organizational values, demonstrating high performance expectations, creating a productive school culture, and developing structures to foster participation in school decisions) of Leithwood’s model establish a framework of the transformational leadership continuum that can be associated with specific transformational leadership practices and problem-solving processes in a school setting (Leithwood, 1994). Leithwood addresses the transactional (management) component of transformational leadership with four additional dimensions: establishing effective staffing practices, providing instructional support, monitoring school activities, and buffering staff from excessive and distracting external demands.

Full document contains 97 pages
Abstract: This study examined the relationship between transformational leadership and academic optimism. Elementary schools in northern Alabama were the focus of this study. Sixty-seven schools participated in this study. Faculty members of the participating schools completed two survey instruments: Leithwood's school leadership survey and the school academic optimism survey (SAOS). There were 470 respondents to the instruments. All data were aggregated to the school level. The independent variable for this study was Leithwood's model of transformational leadership. Conceptually, Leithwood defines transformational leadership as a form of principal leadership that moves individuals toward a level of commitment to achieve school goals by setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program. The dependent variable of this study was academic optimism. Hoy, Tarter, and Hoy defined academic optimism as the general and collective confidence of a school's faculty that conditions exist for students to achieve academic success. Academic optimism is comprised of three organizational characteristics: teacher collective efficacy, academic emphasis, and faculty trust in clients. Prior research has found that principal activities focusing on the learning environment, emphasizing academic achievement, and establishing high performance goals can influence student achievement. Furthermore, previous studies support the positive relationship between transformational leadership and student engagement, classroom instruction, teacher commitment, organizational learning, school culture, job satisfaction, changed teacher practices, and particularly collective efficacy. This study theorized that transformational leadership and academic optimism would be positively correlated. Results of correlation testing indicated that Leithwood's model of transformational leadership is positively related to the academic optimism of the school. The results of linear regression testing showed that each individual category of Leithwood's model of transformational leadership was also positively related to academic optimism. These results provided support for the hypotheses of this study; the greater the degree of transformational leadership the greater the degree of academic optimism in a school.