Better school superintendents, more effective principals? A study of the relationship between superintendent leadership practices and principal job satisfaction

Robert Jay Roelle, Fordham University

Abstract

School districts across the country have reported principal shortages, especially in high-need areas. Many believe these shortages are due to the insurmountable pressures, long working hours, and lack of appreciation from constituents. In an effort to find ways to improve the overall job outlook for principals, this study sought to relate the leadership of the school district superintendent to the job satisfaction, efficacy, and career longevity of principals. ^ Using the Superintendent Understanding of Principals' Educational Responsibilities (SUPER) survey instrument, 119 principals rated their superintendents on leadership practices as defined by theorists, Kouzes and Posner (2008), developers of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. Participating principals also responded to items in the survey that sought to determine their level of job satisfaction, efficacy, and career longevity. ^ The results of the analysis showed several statistically significant relationships between superintendent leadership practices and the job satisfaction and efficacy of their principals. Principals who rated their own job satisfaction and efficacy as high also gave their superintendent a high rating on each of the five leadership practices Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. The strongest correlation occurred between job satisfaction of principals and the Enable Others to Act leadership practice of their superintendents. This finding was consistent with previous research findings that link principal autonomy with improved job performance. ^ The career longevity of principals was influenced by age. Principals 50 years old or older felt significantly more efficacious than younger principals and desired to remain as principals rather than pursue careers as superintendents. ^ The findings from this study demonstrated that superintendent leadership is an important factor in the job satisfaction and efficacy of their principals. Using Kouzes and Posner's (2008) model of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, superintendents can develop their leadership practices as a way to increase the satisfaction and effectiveness of their principals. Superintendents who take steps to improve their leadership may help alleviate pressure on principals and increase the likelihood of getting and retaining good principals in the future. ^

Subject Area

Education, Leadership|Education, Administration|Psychology, Industrial

Recommended Citation

Robert Jay Roelle, "Better school superintendents, more effective principals? A study of the relationship between superintendent leadership practices and principal job satisfaction" (January 1, 2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3407464.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3407464

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