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Application Of Servant Leadershp

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The Application of Servant Leadership in Education

Tabatha R. Ridley

Grand Canyon University

June 23, 2010


School districts across the country are looking for ways to increase test scores and have educators teach with authenticity. Administrators in schools have been researching and looking for a leadership style that accommodates everyone, especially the students. Servant leadership has been that theory that is becoming very popular. This research paper has shown theorists and school districts that have used servant leadership, even though there is little research that acknowledges the increase test scores, as well as assisting students to be life long learners. The purpose of this paper was to investigate how public school personnel applied servant leadership within their buildings. In reviewing the 10 characteristics of servant leadership the research showed how building administrators and other institutions of learning could use the framework. It can be applied in higher education institutions as a course of study, create professional development for teachers, and administrators. Limitations were noted as a restriction that hindered the use of servant leadership to assist students in the area of performance and instruction for teachers.

The Application of Servant Leadership in Education


Problem Statement

The education system was becoming troubled. Educators were having difficulty teaching the curriculum. Standards were changing and some were doing their jobs, but many were not. A level of accountability had to take form in order to save the children across America. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was put into place by former President Bush to set the standard for teachers. This was a document that held everyone accountable as to what was supposed to happen in classrooms. It allowed superintendents to ensure that schools were operating correctly. Schools had to teach the standards, raise the bar for all students, teach with authenticity, and make sure students had every opportunity to become successful, along with providing a safe and nurturing environment. In addition, school systems had to take the initiative to hire the best qualified individuals and provide adequate training to teach the whole child. This included professional development and providing substantial evaluations to enhance an educator's ability to teach the standards. The demands of the classroom have become very overwhelming for educators. Teachers now have to concern themselves with outside influences of the classroom. Culture diversity of students, low socio-economic communities and social values has impacted the classroom. This impact affects performance. School personnel needed a leadership style that would positively affect everyone. It had to meet the challenges of society and combat it with producing successful students with goals in mind. The leadership became servant leadership for some schools.

Fullen (1998) stated that building administrators were becoming stressed. The pressure of being a good leader has become very complex and strained. Principals had their backs up against the walls. They were given more responsibilities with fewer opportunities to ensure success. The mindset of leaders had to change in order to make a difference in schools. Many school leaders were focused on management instead of leadership. There is a difference between the two. The focus should be on practices of leadership instead of how to manage. Educators were crying out and some had chosen to leave the profession until school systems decided to take the initiative to focus on a leadership model that placed service ahead of management. The leadership model became servant leadership. The model is defined as an innate feeling that is produced to serve others and help individuals to understand that the decision-making comes from the group as opposed to individually (Greenleaf, 1977).

Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) observed the connection between how a school is lead and how well students perform. The researchers completed 69 studies that included students from kindergarten through 12th Grade as well as school leaders. They found that leadership was directly related to student achievement in the schools studied. Their study helped to reform school districts as well as getting educators to buy into a philosophy that actually worked. Servant leadership is about getting individuals to a higher level and keeping them there without sacrificing the needs of students. Crippen (2005) found that though many studies have been researched the philosophy of servant leadership in education is somewhat small. There is very little to go on with regards to studies and implementation of the theory. School systems that encompassed the usage of the servant leadership theory stepped out on faith. Principals and other building administrators decided to use resources that leaned towards servant leadership unlike those that came before them. Research showed that those principals that decided to implement the leadership theory must incorporate collaboration, institute professional development for educators, and have the ability to be creative when using resources. The leadership style of a leader is a very important module to ensure a school of excellence.

The servant leader must focus on serving others which includes the 10 characteristics of servant leadership. A need for relevant research on servant leadership, on all levels of education, is pertinent for the needs of students as well as public school administrators who are responsible for their education and aid in them on a day to day regime in educating students.

What is Servant Leadership?

Russell and Stone (2002) define leadership as a vehicle used to serve others first and foremost. The behaviors and attributes of servant leadership should be congruent to the followers. He believes that the leadership theory is virtuous and that it takes on qualities of an internal spirit that exhibits characteristics of excellence. Leaders that display the theory do not act arrogant nor are they disrespectful to their followers. The team leader sees things from multiple view points. They show appreciation and work as colleagues and not as leader. Servant leaders are not concerned with image but are focused on accountability. They may not have all of the answers but they will work together and strive for excellence.

History of Servant Leadership

Covey (1989) found that servant leadership was a well known leadership



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