Interpersonal skills of building-level administrators

Clyde Jason Ginn


The purpose of this study was to determine if there were significant differences between elementary and secondary public school administrators and specifically between male and female school administrators within the elementary and secondary sector in needed and expressed interpersonal behaviors that include affection, inclusion, and control behaviors, and also to determine if the number of years of experience as an administrator significantly relates to the level of these interpersonal skills. The target behaviors were inventoried using the Fundamental Interpersonal Relation Orientation Behavior (FIRO-B) instrument designed to measure interpersonal behavior. The data were analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance. Male and female administrators differed significantly on their needs and expression of interpersonal behavior, particularly in the areas of inclusion and affection. Control seems to be an interpersonal skill based on factors not studied in this research as indicated by the data and analysis. Although male administrators did express more control behaviors than their female counterparts, it was not at a significant level. Additionally, elementary administrators and secondary administrators differed significantly on their needs and expression of affection as an interpersonal behavior. Again, control was not affected by level. Analysis of data did not show a significant level of wanted and expressed control between elementary and secondary administrators. Years of experience did not affect any of the studied behaviors with the exception of expressed inclusion. School administrators with 11 plus years of experience expressed significantly less expressed inclusive behaviors than did school administrators with one to 10 years of school administrative experience. In light of the results of this study, some aspects of interpersonal skills behavior as measured by the FIRO-B could be addressed and modified through professional development activities or educational training programs. Specifically, these behaviors are inclusion and affection behaviors. Further study of the target behaviors may indicate that they are learned through curricula used in teaching educational administration on university and college campuses. Some of these skills may be learned through lifelong exposure to cultural and social pressures and expectations. The fact that females in general express more nurturing behaviors than males is well documented in almost all societies (Kalish & Collier, 1981). This behavior additionally may be a positive factor in the development of elementary children as they interact with female elementary administrators. Years of experience had almost no effect on an individual's interpersonal skills as an administrator on either level. Initial prestudy theory was that years of experience would improve an administrator's interpersonal skills behavior. This simply was not the case as indicated by this study. Years of experience apparently do not help shape an individual's interpersonal skills. This may be due to the fact that most individuals already come to the position with preconceived ideas about the people they work with. Individual experiences in life play a part in how particular individuals may view others as well as how they expect themselves and others to perform. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)