A leader is an individual who possess the practical skills and abilities necessary of leading other individuals, groups and even a whole organization. Every organization has leaders in various segments that provide guidance to their teams and organizations at large. In an educational setting such as schools, leaders are tasked with showing guidance and direction to the students. School leadership entails the course of guiding and enlisting students’ talents together with those of teachers and parents on the way to achieving mutual educational aims. School principals are widely known as school leaders who are responsible for leading their respective learning institutions together with the teachers and the students. In exercising their duties as principles, they are usually encounter some problems along the way. These are problems that are usually encountered by leaders in various segments of different organizations.
One of the problems that I have experienced as a leader in one of the schools is that of balancing between the need of the school and that of the people. In school, the students, teachers, parents and the community are an important part of the school’s progress. There are some issued that involvement of parents and the community is necessary but there are also those that do not necessarily require their involvement. Sometimes we would come up with a policy that aim at improving the performance of the students and the school at large but pressure from the community and the parents comes as an obstacle. For example, the school needed diversity of teachers who come from different backgrounds in a move aimed at improving the overall performance of the school. But the parents and the community wanted just local teachers citing that they also have qualified ones who are entitled to be employed at the school.
All complaints were usually directed to the school principle whenever issues arose like below par performance of the students and the school leaders. The problem that was identified was lack of diversity in the staff. Almost all members of the teaching staff to the sub ordinate staff were locals. I did not contemplate to ignore the concerns of the parents but I find it challenging when it comes to balancing between the needs of the school and what the parents and the community need. As a leader I am mandated to take some actions that mean good to the progress of the school but I am usually destructed by the needs of the parents and the community. This is just one of the problems I experienced as a school principle and a leader in an educational setting.
Ideally, a good number of leaders in different organizations have faced the same problem as mine but a majority of them are better at one than the other where they are willing to sacrifice one need for the other. One cannot succeed in the long-term for failing to pay attention to both sides. In most cases, needs are not always flawlessly balanced, but again if people fail to feel they are supported and cared for with necessary resources, they will not produce anticipated results. There are times when sacrifices will need to be made and most people understand that. Of course, if one cannot turn in results for your organization I my case is my school, then it is probable that one will not get to stick around to take care of the organization/school. I always told myself that “being adored but incapable of delivering desired results is same as faux leadership.
A theoretical framework explaining why the problem existed.
The problem of balancing the need of an organization as well as the needs of the people is well explained under the Social System theory. Social System is a current theory that provides a constant interplay and the way to perceive the relationship between organizational goals and the individual needs. The theory describes the imbalances that arises between the components of an organization and its impacts on its overall performance. It cites that the components of an organization which in education setting include the parents and the community are equally as important as the organization itself when it comes to accomplishing and realizing the objectives of the organization. The theory emphasizes the need of an organizational leader to engage all the components of an organization with its leadership in order to encourage success and reduce conflict of interests.
Social System theory describes the existence of the problem of balancing between organizational and individual needs by use of various organizational structure. It is the constant interaction between the components of the organization and the organization itself that forms the social system. Culture and structure of social relations are two related principles that describe what social system is. The structure of social relations defines the social interactions and patterns that have been created by the social system. Culture on the other hand define the social norms, shared values and the role expectations. These two principles explain why problem arises when there are imbalances between the organization and its component. In my case, the parents and the community shared some social values and norms with the school and therefore needed to be properly engaged wherever the principle wanted to make some major decisions.
Mitigation of the problem
The Social System Theory provides some significant guidelines that mitigates the balancing of needs problem. Some of the recommendations from the theory that would effectively mitigate the problem and any secondary issues in the school setting include the following steps. Understanding the multiplicity of roles within and outside the school; knowing and responding to conflicts; understanding and diagnosing problems and making better decisions. The above steps are critical in helping a school leader balance between what the school needs and what other people within the other segments of the school need. I earlier experienced this problem because I did not consider the needs of both the parents and the community when I decided to make a critical decision on the performance of the school. Had I followed the above steps, I could not have experienced that problem.
Understanding the multiplicity of roles within and outside the school.
The problem of balancing between school’s need and the need of the people starts with failure to recognize the multiplicity of roles within the school. Although a school leader has the authority of taking certain decisions, that is not always the case with some other decisions. There are those decisions that require the collaboration of various segments of the school. However, other segments also might fail to understand their roles in decision making and find themselves involved in matters that does not concern them thereby creating conflicts. When conflict arises, the leader ought to use the next step of responding to conflicts.
Knowing and responding to conflicts
As a leader, the first step is important in addressing the second step. First, a leader needs to understand the roles of every individual regarding the decision that is supposed to be made. It is from here that a leader will understand where the genesis of the problem is. Before providing a solution to a particular problem, one first understands the issue. Now, responding to the conflict involves engaging all the people in a meeting that will aim at addressing the conflicts that have arisen. The next step now is important in creating a solution to the problem.
Understanding and diagnosing problems.
At this step, the leader would have discovered the cause of the conflict. It is here that the leader makes an analysis of the problem weighing the arguments of both sides. The leader will obtain the views of the parents and members of the community and what they would like to see. In my case, the parents did not like my idea of diversity and instead they wanted the teachers and other sub ordinate to come from within the community. The leader needs to analyze the deeper reason that make the parents and community choose their community affairs at the expense of diversification and performance. That leads to the final step of decision making.
Making better decisions
This is a very critical stage that now determine the balance between the needs of the school and that of the people. A better decision is the one that will not create rifts between the school and its segments consisting of parents and the community. A better decision will be arrived at after a critical evaluation of what means best for the school. Here, the leadership skills of a leader will play a critical role in arriving at the decision. For my case, I think I would have involved the parents and the community in describing to them what is important to the school and why we should all agree. I would then decide on the best inclusive decision that would balance the need of all. That is embracing diversity on a certain percentage and also considering the members of the community in some positions.
Chance, P. (2013). Introduction to educational leadership & organizational behavior. Routledge.