The nature, leadership and development of senior leadership teams in New Zealand primary schools

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Tetzlaff, Keith
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Cardno, Carol
Bassett, Martin
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
primary schools
senior leadership teams
educational leadership
team leadership
team performance
Tetzlaff, K. (2016). The nature, leadership and development of senior leadership teams in New Zealand primary schools. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Senior Leadership Teams are the most common permanent team found in New Zealand primary schools and the complex and changing role of the principal is identified as a reason for their emergence and establishment as a necessity for organisational success. However, there is very little literature on the role of the principal as the leader of a primary school Senior Leadership Team. There is no specific research on what leaders must do to develop high performing Senior Leadership Teams, and what team members need to know and do to assist their team to become a high performing team. This study sought to fill that gap by investigating the nature of Senior Leadership Teams, the principal’s leadership role within these teams and the development processes that lead to a group of individuals becoming a high performing team. An interpretive approach was adopted for this qualitative study involving in-depth investigation of the experiences and practices of Senior Leadership Teams in five New Zealand urban primary schools. The study involved the use of two research methods: Firstly, semi-structured interviews were used to explore perceptions from the principal’s perspective. Secondly, focus group interviews were undertaken to obtain the perspectives of the other members of the Senior Leadership Team. This study identifies leadership as the single most important feature of developing Senior Leadership Teams into a high performing team. A major finding is thatleadership key roles do not apply to the principal alone, and it is possible that everyone within a team might have a key leadership role. Findings also relate to the importance of self-management and managing relationships. Each critical transition point in a team’s development involves a significant relationship between two of the leadership role holders. This study suggests the performance of Senior Leadership Teams could be enhanced if principals and Senior Leadership Team members are provided with a greater understanding and insight into the dynamic processes at work within a team and what leadership behaviours and practices are most appropriate to move the team through the team development process. It is recommended that principals and Senior Leadership Team members would benefit from research based, user friendly and practical professional learning and development to assist them to understand the complexity and practices of becoming a high performing team.
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