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Understanding the Leadership Practices and Perceptions of School Leaders As They Relate to the Dimensions of Spiritual Leadership and Exemplary Leadership Practices

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TITLE Understanding the Leadership Practices and Perceptions of School Leaders As They Relate to the Dimensions of Spiritual Leadership and Exemplary Leadership Practices
 
RESEARCHER Mary C. Zaharis
School of Education
Concordia University - Chicago
Unpublished doctoral dissertation: November 2014

OBJECTIVE
The purpose of this study was to understand the leadership practices and perceptions of school leaders as they relate to dimensions of spiritual leadership and exemplary leadership practices in order to attain a more holistic model of educational leadership.

METHODOLOGY
The three men and three women participants for this study were purposefully selected from a sample of 80 school leaders at the elementary, middle and high school level who are currently enrolled in doctoral studies in the educational leadership program at a local, religiously-affiliated university in a suburban city in a Midwestern state of the United States. They were all 21 years of age or older with at least a master’s degree and Type 75 school leader certification, all scored above-average on the Leadership Practices Inventory (from the population of 80), and were studied through in-depth interviews, observation and examination of artifacts.

KEY FINDINGS
All of the school leaders in the current study clearly exhibited the five leadership practices in their daily work with teachers, parents and students. “During the deductive phase of analysis, it was noted that exemplary leadership practices (Kouzes & Posner, 2007) in order of most frequently observed to least frequently observed, included: model the way; inspire a shared vision; enable others to act; challenge the process and encourage the heart” (p. 134).

The author concludes:

The two dimensions of leadership spiritual and exemplary practices were related for the participants in this study. After reading and rereading the data, I eventually came to understand that the exemplary practices I observed during the study, emanated from a foundation of spiritual leadership practices. I concluded that one dimension of leadership builds on and compliment the other; they do not exist exclusively from each other. Spiritual leaders employ exemplary leadership practices; exemplary leaders employ spiritual leadership practices (p. 143).

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