A principal's active listening skills and teachers' perceptions of the principal's leader behaviors

Steven Grant Lawrence

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to see if training a principal in active listening skills would change the teacher's perceptions of the principal's leader behaviors. Three specific leader behaviors were considered initiating structure, consideration, and total leader behaviors. These leader behaviors were identified in the work Andrew Halpin did on the Leadership Behavior Descriptive Questionnaire (LBDQ) in 1957. The specific active listening skills identified for training the principal in this case were the following: attending behaviors, paraphrasing, questioning for clarification, and relational feedback. The principal was introduced to the active listening skills and given selected articles to broaden her knowledge of active listening skills. Observations of the principal communicating with the teachers provided the data for feedback in the training sessions. The feedback sessions proved to be valuable in the training process. By observing and recording objective data the principal's progress was demonstrated. The teachers perceptions were assessed using the LBDQ. The study compared a pre- with a post- of the teachers responses to the LBDQ. The prequestionniare was given prior to the principal being trained and the postquestionnaire was given after the principal had completed the training. An independent t test was used to compare the prequestionnaire and the postquestionnaire. The results of this study indicated that the teachers perceptions improved after the principal was trained in active listening. The following conclusions were drawn: (1) The teacher's perceptions of the principal's initiating structure improved after the principal was trained in active listening skills; (2) The teacher's perceptions of the principal's consideration behaviors improved after the principal was trained in active listening skills; (3) The teacher's perception of the principal's total leader behaviors improved after the principal was trained in active listening skills. This study was conducted using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. This provided the study with empirical data for assessing statistical conclusions and observed data for drawing implications. The observed data provides the study with information that indicates how the principal communicated using active listening skills. The empirical data and the observed data strongly indicated that the teacher's perceptions of the principal's leader behaviors improved after the principal was trained in active listening skills.