Cultural construction of leadership effectiveness in Kenyan secondary schools: an investigation
Implicit theories are constructions by people that are formed in a socio-cultural and historical context. Every group or culture has its own view of what constitutes effective leadership which is unique to that culture. There is therefore no universal theory of conceptualizing leadership because there are as many theories as there are different cultures. This study was conducted with a view to exploring what teachers think are the characteristics of an effective Principal (leader) in Kenyan Secondary Schools in Muranga and Nairobi Districts. These schools are in rural and urban regions respectively. The study was conducted in two Phases. In Phase one, Secondary school teachers (N= 100) in Nairobi and Muranga districts were asked to list the ideal characteristics of an effective educational leader. They were also asked to identify one educational leader who they thought was effective and explain why they thought so. On the basis of the characteristics, a checklist of effective leaders was prepared. In Phase two, Principals in the two Districts were rated by a sample of 349 teachers using the checklist of effective leaders. Teachers were asked to respond to the statements about effective leaders on a seven point Likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The data were coded and factor analyzed. Factor analysis of these ratings yielded six factors which were labeled as “nurturing orientation”, “decision-making”, “conventional personality”, “ethical leadership”, “empowerment” and “communication”. This set of factors was unique to the Kenyan schools as they had not been combined like this else where in research. This clearly showed that assessment of leadership effectiveness cannot be meaningful and accurate if the assessment tool is constructed in another culture. It also implies that there are as many tools of assessment of leadership effectiveness as there are cultures.