The impact of effective leadership on the performance of teaching staff at the University of Dammam
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Robinson, Lloyd and Rowe (2008) noted that there is existence of exceptional international interest in regard to the inquiry into how a range of students’ outcomes are influenced by educational leaders. A leader is defined by Sethuraman and Suresh (2014) as an individual shouldering the responsibility of influencing at least one follower and providing them with directions for attainment of set objectives. Major roles played by leaders are creating and focusing on a vision, setting up a team to achieve high performance, sustaining the motivation of the team, ensuring that a good rapport with relevant people is maintained so that all players remain informed about the necessary information and finally striving to ensure minimized attrition through employees’ satisfaction (Du, Swaen, Lindgreen & Sen, 2013).
It has been and it continues to be the desire of many policy makers across the globe to cut low the disparities that have persisted in achievement of education between numerous ethnic and social groups and their conviction that a pivotal role in doing so is played by school leaders (Robinson, Lloyd and Rowe, 2008). Universities through provision of quality education and equipping leaners has been identified as one of the key driver of economies over the world. These organizations are tasked with the responsibility of managing knowledge where such knowledge is produced and managed through technical practices and human activities to create a link between individuals serving in different administrative sections and levels (Naser Al Shobaki & Amuna, 2016).
In pursuit of ensuring high performance standards, it has become increasingly important for higher institutions of learning worldwide to reflect on the rationale of effective leadership models that assist individual staff members as well as their departments and the entire institution to adapt to highly dynamic academic environment (Floyd and Fung, 2017). Some of the key pressing question that have been evoked by the desire to achieve focus on leadership include: “Do teacher make a difference? Can leaders enhance the quality of teaching and learning in schools?” (H. Heck and Hallinger, 2014 p.653). These questions have been the center of interest for policymakers, researchers and school practitioners for nearly more than a half a century as governments have been in search of highly systematic plans to achieve advanced quality of education.
Education quality has been argued to respond positively to good leadership. In order to improve quality of leadership, researchers, educators and policymakers have shifted focus to leadership preparation so as to comprehend ways in which preparation programs are important (Orphanos and Orr, 2014). The focus of leadership on university teaching staff has been attributed to the numerous roles played by such class of expertise. These members of staff have popularly been noted to spend the greater part of their time imparting knowledge to students in addition to providing them with daily face to face academic contact.
However, a substantial number of academic staff particularly those serving in older universities argue that their role is primarily to carry out research. More so, these staffs are expected to contribute towards communal activities through roles like directors or governors of charities. Roles of these academicians have broadened to include generation of revenue to universities through research and offering of consultancies services to external organizations. They also contribute to their respective disciplines through attending conferences, and involvement in review of publications (Schulz, 2013). The effectiveness of these group is noted to be affected by leadership styles. This therefore begs for a somewhat in-depth discussion on leadership types and that is what the paper turns to.
Several leadership styles are noted to exist; for example, Choudhary, Akhtar and Zaheer (2013) points out two of these namely transformational and servant leadership. To the two, Yahaya and Ebrahim (2016) adds laissez-faire and transactional leadership styles. The list is extended further by Vann, Coleman and Simpson (2014) with the inclusion of democratic, autocratic and situational leadership styles.
These style is referred to as an ethical leadership approach which entails capability of leaders to promote intellectual inspiration (Choudhary et al., 2013). According to Burns (1978 as cited in Yahaya & Ebrahim, 2016), transformational leadership is a process and not a specific behavior. Burn argue further that transformational leadership is portrayed by those who plead for higher standard and moral values as well as empowering subordinates to produce thoughtful and essential change. Transformational leaders are noted to attain their desired results through their personal charm, charism, passion and clear vision. Their disciples perceive themselves as valued and empowered individuals to strive for better performance (Vann et al., 2014).
It is further assumed by transformational leadership that institutions are in need and therefore require transformation; innovation are often granted preference over status quo and followers long to create personal and close relationship with their leaders (Vann et al., 2014). This style of leadership has three main components namely: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration.
Idealized influence relates to charisma and to the leader’s ability to act as role models to their subordinates. This should create a scenario where the follower would wish to ape their leaders. Inspirational motivation occurs when leaders arouses eagerness among subordinates for group work and make utterances that build their self-assurance in the capability to discharge assignments successfully and achieve goals of the group. Intellectual stimulation leadership stimulates subordinates to contest their own beliefs and thinking in order to enhance creativity in problem solving and assume active role in decision making. Individualized consideration permits leaders to establish a solid relationship among themselves (Vann et al., 2014).
This is the desire by those in leadership position to guide, offer hope, motivate as well as provide an experience of care through a quality relationship established with the subordinates and followers (Choudhary et al., 2013). It is further noted by McCann, Graves and (Cox 2014) that servant leadership is pivoted on fundamental values of care and service for others and puts focus on principles of trust, being grateful to others and empowerment.
This styles implies lack of effective leadership. It describes leadership which disregards problems, fails to follow up, avoids decision making and refrains from intervening (Yahaya & Ebrahim, 2016). Leaders demonstrating this style of leadership are often indecisive and shy away from assuming leadership responsibilities. Their roles in affairs of the group are passive and make no initiative for interaction with members of the group (Yahaya & Ebrahim, 2016).
This type of leadership is characterized by individuals linking with others with the purpose of having exchange of valued political, psychological or economical things (Yahaya & Ebrahim, 2016). Leaders who employ this style of leadership make use of a quid-pro-quo tactic to lead others. These leaders are more of task oriented with much concern on managing followers so as to achieve results but not change (Vann et al., 2014).
Leaders pursuing this style seek input and advice from their disciples. These leaders listen to ideas of their followers, engage them and give equal treatment to individuals and their ideas. This consequently motivates the followers. In this leadership, organization hierarchy is needless. The method paints leaders and followers as equal and thus a greater motivational level for followers. This approach is assumed to be considerate, consultative and participative, democratic, concerned with people, employee oriented and conscious of maintaining good relations at work. The style is also supportive and skewed towards enabling group decision making. The style however suffers from its incapability to respond favorably to cases of emergency whenever quick and decisive leadership is appropriate (Vann et al., 2014).
This style of leadership is embraced by leaders who solely concentrate decision making to themselves. More so, such leaders rely upon their own personal discernment. It is in the belief of these leaders that a conspicuous boundary should exist between them and their followers if effective management is to be attained. This style is characterized by strong hierarchy and followers are aware who shoulders the entire task of decision making. The style is premised on the doctrine of “it is better to be feared than love, if one cannot be both” (Vann et al., 2014).
This is perhaps one of the most flexible style of leadership since it does not restrict itself to a single leadership method but leaders vary such methods based on the prevailing situation and groups. This method may be devoid of in-depth study received by all other approaches but its applicability in the real world situation is perhaps the most rampant (Vann et al., 2014).
Dammam University is located in Saudi Arabia. This institution runs various faculties such as that of medicine, faculty of Basic medical sciences, faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Arts among many others. The recent history of the campus indicates that there has been a new take based on established methodology of learning English based on innate learning processes and the intensive use of the internet and smartphones. The approach used is premised on using the innate language-learning skills of the learner’s first language with the added difference that the learner is older and more experienced with language acquisition because of their first language learning experience and experiences accumulated over time. This shows that there is need of strategizing effective leadership approaches that will enable the teaching staffs to be on toes and guarantee the students proper teaching methods and enhanced understandings.
Leadership, in whichever model it embraces, has a central goal that ensures smooth running of the organization and maintain the school improvement. The managerial strategy is the personal support provided by the heads and also the construction of the appropriate environment for accomplishing personal and organizational goals which should largely factor in the quality of teaching; the most influential factor in students’ achievement. What might not be defined is that there must be conscious attempts to influence the behavior of other teaching staffs within the group and there must be the willingness of subordinates to act. Teachers’ performance in some Universities in Saudi Arabia are evidenced to be poor and this has been related to the poor head teacher’s leadership style as noted by Goetsch and Davis (2014).
Most studies have focused on organizational level where researchers investigated manners in which universities have adjusted to the dynamic political and social conditions or to variations in the university’s structure and leadership. What remains less clear is the effect of these changes on the academic manpower. Universities are often staff intensive and how effective they are is largely influenced by academic staff (Schulz, 2013). This study therefore focused on the impact of effective leadership on the performance of teaching staff at the University of Dammam. The study done so by revolving around the effects of strategies that have been outlined by the management body regarding teaching processes and efficient understandings.
There is a worldwide desire to keep low the disparity in achievement of education between various social and ethnic divide. It is further noted that a fundamental role in doing so is played by heads of school (Robinson, Lloyd and Rowe, 2008). It is worth emphasizing that universities play significant roles in economic growth across the globe through knowledge management. The management is thus tasked with the responsibility of coordination of human activities between those serving in different levels (Naser Al Shobaki & Amuna, 2016). This implicitly implies that the management shoulders the responsibility of ensuring proper functioning of the universities and the quality of the service it offers including the students’ outcome.
Goetsch and Davis (2014) noted poor performance by teachers in some universities in Saudi Arabia and associated it with improper leadership style. University of Dammam is one of the universities in Saudi Arabia. As aforementioned, this university offers a range of faculty programs and has been recently noted to be intensifying its use of internet and smartphones as well as innate learning process. These changes are perceived to have influence on the performance of University of Dammam. In addition to the just mentioned technological shift, effectiveness of leadership style employed by those holding leadership positions is paramount in influencing performance of any organization. As earlier discussed, these leadership styles include: transformational leadership, servant leadership, laissez-faire, transactional leadership, democratic, autocratic and situational leadership styles. Each of this styles has been noted to have varying tenets (Vann et al., 2014).
Despite the preceding revelations, most studies have focused on organizational level where researchers investigated manners in which universities have adjusted to the dynamic political and social conditions or to variations in the university’s structure and leadership. What remains less clear is the effect of these changes on the academic manpower (Schulz, 2013). Motivated by this and as earlier outlined, this study deviated from such study norms and focused on how effective leadership impacts on the performance of teaching staff using the case of University of Dammam in Saudi Arabia as a representative university.
It is in the belief of the researcher that findings of this study is immensely beneficial to the leadership of Dammam University and beyond. In particular, the study assists those holding leadership position to understand best leadership practices that involve managing and harnessing human (people) as well as other non-human resources so as to attain goals and objectives of their respective organizations. The study also reveals what it takes to achieve maximum performance through effective leadership as pointed out by Naser et al. (2016). In addition, the findings of this study adds to the existing body of knowledge pertaining leadership issues especially in learning institutions.
According to Imenda (2014), the conceptual framework as applied in typically qualitative study, is the soul of every research project. The study was guided by the theoretical socialization framework governing the process through which staff members of the University of Dammam develop a sense of self-professionalism with characteristic values, attitudes, knowledge and skills governing their behavior in a myriad of professional and extraprofessional situations within the university. The research was conducted within the setup of the University of Dammam and it exposed lack of focus on instructions by leaders with poor leadership skills.
Qualitative methodology was utilized to explore the impact of effective leadership on teaching staff at the University of Dammam. Qualitative data was analyzed using thematic identification and narration in which different values were used to establish statistical association. The framework upon which this study was conducted relied on the guidelines proposed by Maxwell (2004) which require consideration of the key concepts, assumptions, expectations and beliefs in support of the interrelationship between variables.
The exogenous variables were leadership styles using different leadership traits to classify particular style in use by different individuals in leadership positions. Such factors used for classification into different leadership styles were also extended to shed light on the most relevant style as per the prevailing conditions. On the other hand, performance of teaching staff was the endogenous variable under investigation. It should also be stressed that the study was conducted in a framework within which it was assumed that leadership style such as transformational leadership, servant leadership, laissez-faire, transactional leadership, democratic, autocratic and situational leadership styles affect performance of institutions. Based on the reviewed literature and other existing theoretical backing, it was further hypothesized that the more the leadership style considered the participation of the followers (teaching staff), the higher the impact felt in championing for higher performance.
Based on the existing literature, continuous and intensive socio-economic changes have created the need for restructuring educational practices as well as the structure of the schools. New technologies have been introduced with the aim of improving educational outcomes in addition to achieving adaption to new technology. In the University of Dammam for example, there has been incorporation of intensive internet and smartphone use in its operation. This study was therefore conducted with the aim of identifying the best technological method to be used in the institution. Such methods include the intensive use of the internet, use of smartphones analysis by the university students and writing using digital rubrics. This was done through exploration of different leadership styles and their effectiveness in influencing performance of the academic staff members.
In the current world, expectations of school principals regarding performance have risen to levels never experienced before. Principals are not just seen as educational leaders, knowledgeable about teaching and learning; they are also expected to know how to work with data, make funding decisions, engage with their wider community, support students with a range of special needs, and navigate a complex operational environment. With increased local decision making and authority, principals who are based on government schools are often called upon to implement new reforms involving change, financial and people management skills. University of Dammam is an example of institution’s environment as well as leadership which is an essential attribute of management in today’s world. In this line, managers are keen on bringing resources together, developing strategies, organizing and controlling activities so as to achieve set objectives. Based on this, the study was conducted to examine how effective leadership impacts on the performance of academic staff in University of Dammam. To achieve its objective, this qualitative study was guided by the following research questions and hypotheses.
R1: How does leadership style impact on the effectiveness and proficiency of management?
H1: Effective leadership style has positive impact on the effectiveness and proficiency of management
H0: Effective leadership style has negative impact on the effectiveness and proficiency of management
R2: How does a leader create a sustainable performance based on the effective management of resources?
H2: A leader create a sustainable performance based on the effective management of resources
H0: A leader does not create a sustainable performance based on the effective management of resources
R3: Basing the focus on the teaching staff at the University of Dammam, how does the leadership effectiveness impact their performance?
H3: Leadership effectiveness impact the performance of teaching staff at the University of Dammam positively.
H0: Leadership effectiveness impact the performance of teaching staff at the University of Dammam negatively
This research employed a qualitative cross sectional research design where both survey research and phenomenological research approaches were employed to investigate the topic. Qualitative research was preferred because of its merits which include: phenomena are examined to in-depth, information used is subjective, variables in this design do not necessarily need to be rigidly defined, complex questions that could not be examined using quantitative designs is possible under qualitative research. Moreover, it deals with value-laden question as well as necessitating exploration of new research areas (McCusker & Gunaydin, 2015).
Relevant data was collected from research sampling units (teaching staff) selected from the population which comprised academic staff of University of Dammam. Such data was concerned with the proxies of effective leadership such as leadership style used and the performance of teaching staff so that the effect of the former on the latter is examined. Qualitative data was analyzed using identifications and narrations.
Power: which can be seen as the ability to control people or things within an individual working area will imply that people with power have the authority to influence the actions of others.
Chapter one has introduced the paper. The chapter gave an outline of the background to the research topic where the importance of university education was mentioned, types of leadership styles discussed as well as the coverage on the brief overview of the University of Dammam in order to justify the study area. The chapter also discussed the problem statement and significance of the study, conceptual framework, and purpose of the study, research questions and hypothesis, rationale for methodology and definition of terms. The reminder of the paper is organized as follows: chapter two reviews literature, chapter three discusses the methodology used in the study while chapter four presents the data analysis and results. Chapter five discusses the findings as well as concluding the paper.
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