School Leaders Under Pressure: The Link Between Well-being, Coping, and Leadership Effectiveness

Secondary Education    Principals/Superintendents

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TITLE School Leaders Under Pressure: The Link Between Well-being, Coping, and Leadership Effectiveness
RESEARCHER Ashlyen Singh
Teacher Education Department
University of the Fraser Valley
Master’s Thesis 2023

Literature about stress and leadership suggests that school leaders are stressed, their perception
of job demands is playing a role, their well-being and effectiveness are impacted, many are not
coping successfully, and certain coping styles are more effective than others. The purpose of this
study was to understand school leaders’ stress management in relation to their leadership
effectiveness. The guiding research question is: how do the coping behaviors of school leaders
relate to their perceptions of leadership effectiveness?

Ten principals and vice-principals from a school district the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada were selected to participate in this phenomenological study through convenience sampling. Participants’ experiences were captured through semi-structured interviews and the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI Self) (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Analyses of their questionnaire responses and interviews led to four key findings: (a) a leader’s
appraisal of stressors mediates their impact; (b) stress impacts well-being and sense of
effectiveness similarly; (c) coping strategies need to align with the problem; and (d) district
leadership plays a crucial role in facilitating or preventing coping. The findings of this study
contribute to the literature on school leadership, stress, well-being, effectiveness, and coping.
These results offer insight into the reasons why principals and vice-principals’ (PVP) well-being
and leadership are impacted by stress, how organizations can intervene, and how individual
school leaders can effectively cope with the demands of their job.