Leadership Practices That Directly Influence Teachers’ Emotions
The emotions of teachers are an often ignored, but very important part of a school’s learning climate. With each decision or policy they put in place, school leaders have an effect on the emotions of their teachers. Leadership practices that have emotional consequences reflect four sets of “core practices” for effective leadership. These practices form a major part of what most successful school leaders do, in many different organizational and cultural contexts. Due to their transformational bias to leadership, these core practices involve:
1. Direction-setting – The practices of school leaders geared at building an inclusive sense of purpose in the school, and a grasp of the specific goals often leads to success, and broader school purposes are also accomplished. Most successful school leaders set higher expectations for their own performance as well as those of their teaching staff and students.
2. Focusing on helping teachers improve professionalism – The development of teachers’ capacities includes most of the principal practices that influence teachers’ feelings. These practices include: being genuinely friendly, considerate, supportive, attentive to teachers’ ideas, and mindful of teachers’ welfare. School leaders who provide individualized consideration and learning opportunities build the teachers’ need to accomplish their own goals as well as those of the school. Success in building capacity is also achieved by reducing distractions to instructional work, as well as modeling values and practices that are aligned with the teachers’ core purpose.
3. Redesigning the organization – This entails building a culture that is supportive and collaborative in teaching and learning, and creating and sustaining school structures that complement such a culture. In this context, successful principals nurture productive relationships with parents and the entire community, to influence future policies and prevent situations that might affect the school.
4. Managing the instructional program – This aspect of leadership basically requires instructional knowledge. It includes efforts by school leaders to ensure that their schools have highly competent staff, to observe the progress of students and the school improvement, to monitor teachers’ instructional practices, and to provide supportive, helpful feedback to their staff.
Based on the extensive research carried out in both educational and non-school contexts, it is evident that emotionally responsive practices are closely associated with social assessment abilities. These abilities enable one to appreciate the emotional states of others, find out what those states entail in complex social situations, respond in helpful ways , and manage one’s own emotions.
Transformational leaders are known for their emotional capabilities and are prepared to include it in their professional life, despite the fact that it may involve breaking the traditions of professional culture and norms to maintain and repair relationships. They realize that building trusting relationships is vital for a cooperative culture.
One common element in both emotional intelligence and social appraisal skills is the understanding of others’ emotional experience. Empathy is used to sense what people are feeling, and look at things from their point of view. However, there is a risk involved when a leader assumes that he or she knows what followers are feeling. Such a belief is often mistaken, since it is easy to misinterpret others’ feelings. This is because we often try to imagine how we would feel in their situation.
Engaging in respectful and thoughtful conversations is important for finding out if what we have “sensed” is accurate. In light of the evidence provided, it is clear that leaders who have emotional wisdom avoid assumptions about what others are feeling. Instead, they commit themselves to building emotional meaning with relevant parties. These leaders also recognize the importance of emotion in professional discussions, private reflection, and strategic analysis of situations. This kind of collaborative consideration of emotions is a step ahead of present leadership practice, emerging as the key element for nurturing learning communities in the true sense of emotional leadership..
Emotional leadership is said to be “future” leadership, because the research in schools exploring the particular connection between leaders’ success and their social appraisal skills is still in its early stages. However, evidence from the non-school settings show that these skills do make a significant contribution to leadership success. Nevertheless, the magnitude of contribution varies in strength based on the job description. When they seek to understand and respect the emotions of their followers, leaders are bound to experience positive results. Followers feel validated and appreciated when their feelings are not pushed aside, leading to a more positive, productive working environment for everyone.