Inspirational women in educational leadership: A phenomenological study
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The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to understand the essence of inspirational leadership practiced by women in educational leadership positions in Texas public schools. According to Psychogios (2007), female leaders exhibit transformational leadership behaviors that revolve around relationships based heavily on communication and social sensitivity – more so than males. The focus was on how women educational leaders are described as inspirational and how their inspirational leadership style influenced their coworkers. The research questions included: 1. How are women educational leaders described to be inspirational? 2. How do women educational leaders exhibit inspirational leadership? 3. In what ways do inspirational female educational leaders influence their faculties toward school improvement? This study utilized semi-structured interviews, observations, and personal document review with a purposeful sample of three campus level women in educational leadership positions in Central Texas. These leaders had held these campus leadership positions for at least two years. Additionally, the investigator asked to interview two or three coworkers regarding the inspirational leadership nature of the participant. Creswell’s (2003) six steps were used for data analysis. There were five overarching attributes that characterize these inspirational female educational leaders. These were: presence, motivation, collaboration, relationships, and fun. Within each of the overarching attributes, the research data revealed specific but overlapping themes. Twelve themes and eleven sub-themes emerged from the data. The findings from these women’s coworkers revealed the themes of fun, relationship oriented, practices recognition, and confident. Sub-themes of communicates/listens, motivating, and approachable emerged regarding leaders described to be inspirational. Builds teams, practices recognition, models and builds relationships were themes revealed regarding leaders who exhibit inspirational leadership with sub-themes of grows leaders, fun/celebrations, present, respects, supports, communicates/listens. Finally, the question of how inspirational women leaders influence school improvement produced themes of motivation, reward, student focus, and teamwork. The sub-themes were expectations/accountability and shared responsibilities. This study adds to the body of knowledge regarding how inspiration works and its influence on school improvement. The results of this study may be applicable to administrative training programs enhancing the possibility of increased job satisfaction and higher degree of success particularly for women. In addition, this study demonstrates the convergence of transformational and charismatic leadership concepts, thus creating a framework for inspirational leadership.