Exploring the role of positive leadership for mobilizing innovative practices : a social network approach

Title: Exploring the role of positive leadership for mobilizing innovative practices : a social network approach
Source document: Studia paedagogica. 2021, vol. 26, iss. 2, pp. [31]-48
  • ISSN
    1803-7437 (print)
    2336-4521 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
An emerging body of literature suggests the importance of positive leadership for school and district improvement (e.g., Cherkowski, 2018; Louis & Murphy, 2018). A number of lines of evidence have converged upon how positive leadership principles can influence behavioral outcomes (e.g., collaboration among school staff), attitudinal outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction), leader-related outcomes (e.g., trust for leadership), and performance outcomes (e.g., collective efficacy), as well as a wide variety of moderating and mediating variables for these outcomes (Murphy & Louis, 2018). At present, there is little evidence about the role of positive leadership in relation to the mobilization of innovative teaching and learning practices, particularly practices that advance well-being and positive mental health for students and teachers. This article reports on a study that examined the associations between school staff perceptions of positive school leadership, their behaviors related to innovative practices, and their connections to other staff within a multi-school network. The question guiding our work was, "How do school staff perceptions of positive leadership alongside information about their school roles and social connections influence the potential for mobilizing innovative practices?" A cross-sectional survey methodolog y combining traditional and social network data collection methods (Carolan, 2014; Groves et al., 2009) was employed to generate an understanding of the interconnectedness of relational patterns within schools, perceptions of positive leadership, and individual efforts toward innovation. The case for this study was a federation comprising three infant schools in Hampshire, England. In total, 31 teaching staff completed the survey: a response rate of 84%. Our analysis suggests that well-being and positive mental health leadership roles are important not only for mobilizing advice about teaching practices and classroom management, but also in galvanizing the expressive social networks that promote self-governance in school staff. Furthermore, expert uses of innovative practices related to well-being appear to be concentrated on the staff holding well-being leadership positions. Although it is intuitively beneficial to have this concentration of expertise in individuals explicitly charged to promote and support well-being, comparisons between the instrumental and expressive networks suggest that some school staff were not strongly influenced by these leaders. We view this finding as reflecting the importance of paying attention to how practices are mobilized throughout school networks. Against the backdrop of positive leadership, mobilizing practices requires that leaders have an authentic understanding of their staff, an attentiveness to their needs, and an ability to attune their behaviors to those needs.
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