Transformational leadership through the lens of chaos

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Chaos theory espouses that any system will grow and develop only when it recognizes the need to change and develop. Whether in nature or a human related system, such as an educational system, a relatively small change in a variable can create a chaotic state demanding the need for further, deeper change. In this era of accountability in the public school sector, there is evidence of transformational leadership by some superintendents who embrace the idea of a clear and focused mission, distributed leadership, and fostering change through data-based decision making resulting in improved student achievement. This phenomenological study reviewed research on chaos theory and transformational leadership, gathered data from 11 superintendents, and through interviews and artifact examination discovered five emergent themes in whose districts there was significant growth in student achievement. Superintendents who embrace such actions are shifting from being systems managers to systems change agents. Instructional leadership, once left to teachers, principals, and specialists, is now a role the effective superintendent embraces.




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