What is ‘Transformational Leadership’ and what does it mean for Wales?

Where to begin….a google search led me to a scholarly article that discussed the origins of the theory. Bernard Bass was responsible for its inception (Miner, 2006). The theory according to John B Miner, was an attempt by Bass to bridge the gap between the leadership and the dynamics of a group. In terms of education, the relationship between a school staff and school leaders. Rather than trying to rewrite what has already been written, follow the link below,

https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=kUO5NWwaySYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA361&dq=transformational+leadership+theory&ots=UG7BveMnGO&sig=FYa8JDa9w_CPdDneeKaeX5PmTNk#v=onepage&q=transformational%20leadership%20theory&f=false

However, the theory is clearly based on relationships and it appears to me that the transformational leader has a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved and that this can be achieved best through effective interpersonal skills and making the workforce a valued member of the journey. The journey of a transformational leader is split into four equal parts,

1) Individualized Consideration

In our context in Wales and the changes that we are making to our curriculum , this would mean the ability to understand the needs of each individual on the staff. Listening to concerns and needs is a crucial pert of the journey and this can almost be described as a role of a mentor.

Perhaps in light of this, a performance development review as proposed by the new pay and conditions document in Wales would be a good starting point. A review provides the opportunity to have individual and open discussions which allow a non-threatening environment to breed honesty. It is also in my opinion, the opportunity to discuss performance development need for an individual thus effectively planning CPD.

To know and understand the individual is crucial to building an effective team.

2) Intellectual Stimulation

To become engaged in a project, to have the freedom to be innovative and creative.

As we move forward with all the changes that are taking place in Wales, are we as leaders, providing the opportunity for intellectual stimulation? Are we fully engaging the staff in our schools to have the confidence to have a go?

To be innovative can sometimes lead to an element of risk however if staff are empowered to research into a certain pedagogical principle, are given the freedom to see how this works and allows everyone the oportunity to consider….what if…..rather than encouraging a blame culture which leads to a feeling of we can’t. I see this as positive reinforcement rather than festering negativity.

As leaders, we have to allow the opportunity for the individual to be creative however, this can still sit within a school improvement plan. It can be a powerful strategy for leading improvement in a school and ultimately it can have a very positive impact on each pupil.

Teachers teach differently and as leaders we need to stimulate each member of staff to feel engaged, individually stimulated, that will lead to the benefit of every child in a school.

3) Inspirational Motivation

My last post discussed the importance of a vision. Within transformational leadership, this is the key to success. This is how we motivate the staff, the reason for doing our best on a daily basis, the reason for getting up early finishing plans and creating new resources.

A vision provides the purpose that each staff should own. It is the meaning behind why we do what we do. If we believe that equity for every child is important then this meaning should feature in every policy and every aspect of school life thus the school is driven by a shared purpose. In many ways the ‘Three Musketeers’ had this right when they announced, ‘One for all and all for one’ or as we have always said in Wales, ‘Mewn undod mae nerth’ – ‘Strength in unity’.

Despite the fact that I’m placing an emphasis on the school staff as a whole, the personal relationships and intellectual stimulus very much involves the individual and therefore engages the staff.

4) Idealized Influence

Having recently worked on a Welsh language project within sport, it became apparent that sporting heroes are powerful role models. Are we effective role models as school leaders? Do we provide the influence to support others?

In many ways, my understanding of this aspect of the transformational journey is the importance of constantly relating school work back to the shared vision, that this has been clarified in a shared mission statement and acknowledged through shared values for all members of a school; staff, pupils, parents and governing bodies.

To value each other, to respect, to become resilient as a team, to believe in the person that stands next to you, is essential as you develop a workforce that is going to enrich the life of every child in your care.

How can we begin this transformational journey as school leaders in Wales?

Create a vision:

On a national level, we have the national mission. This is a shared vision for all school leaders. We must then consider how do we reflect the vision that we wish to use as a motivational inspiration in our own setting.

https://beta.gov.wales/education-our-national-mission

Sell the vision:

In a school setting this should involve every stakeholder as it does on a national level.

Delivering the vision:

https://addysgrjceducation.wordpress.com/2018/11/10/vision-at-the-heart-of-a-school-as-a-learning-organisation/?preview=true

As I explained in my previous post, a vision must be seen in every aspect of a school, from the first meeting with a member of staff to the policies that underpin school procedures to the strategy that delivers improvement.

Building effective and empowering relationships that lead the change:

The leader has to provide the drive and enthusiasm but if the building blocks are in place then in many ways this should become a natural consequence of all the other actions.

I realise that I might have over simplified what is a substantial theory for leadership and perhaps it requires greater individual study to really get to grip with a model of leadership. However, in Wales, we need to begin the transformational journey and that begins by building up our knowledge of leadership and how we can motivate and empower others.

Two articles I found extremely useful are,

https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2017/10/29/transformational-leadership-9/

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/transformational-leadership.htm

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