ASSESSMENT OF PRINCIPALS' LEADERSHIP STYLES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF FEDERAL UNITY COLLEGES IN NORTH-CENTRAL GEO-POLITICAL ZONE, NIGERIA

ASSESSMENT OF PRINCIPALS' LEADERSHIP STYLES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF FEDERAL UNITY COLLEGES IN NORTH-CENTRAL GEO-POLITICAL ZONE, NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1                 Background to the Study

Education in Nigeria is an instrument for effecting National Development. The country‟s educational goals have been set out in the National Policy on Education (NPE) in terms of their relevance to the needs of the individual and the society (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2013). Towards this end, the NPE sets up certain aims and objectives which were to facilitate educational development in the Country. In fostering these aims and objectives, the school Principals have important roles to play. Among these roles is to provide Effective Leadership in secondary schools, thereby enhancing better job performance among staff and improving the academic performance of their students. How effective the Principal is in performing this role has been a matter of concern to many educationists (Olubadewo, 1992; Aghenta, 2000; Ige, 2001). It needs to be mentioned that Federal Government Colleges (Secondary Schools Education) in Nigerian schools are for a period of 6-years and for students who had successfully completed the Basic 1 to 6 education programme and passed the Federal Common Entrance Exams conduct by National Examination Council (NECO). Admissions to these schools were based on the quota system, making it representative throughout the country (Akpa&Udoh, 2004).

It is therefore not surprising that there is a mounting pressure on effective leadership among Principals of Federal Unity Colleges in Nigeria. It seems however that many Principals have not considered their styles of leadership as determinants of staffs‟ job performance in their schools. Hence, some of them seem to find it difficult to effectively

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administer their schools (Gronn, 2000; Adeyemi, 2004). As such, leadership style occupies an important position in school management in Federal Unity Schools, Nigeria. The Principal is in a unique position as the manager or administrator who controls schools‟ resources for the purpose of attaining organisational goals.

Today, there are 104 Federal Government Colleges cut across the six Geo-political zones in Nigeria. Although since independence, according to Fafunwa (2004), “Education in Nigeria has been recognized as a veritable tool for socio-economic and political changes in the country, resulting to greater part of the national budget accrued to the sector. Yet the rate of performance in the sector is decline”. The gradual decline in performance of the educational sector as an industry in the process of socio-economic and political development of Nigeria, according to Okeke (1986) “is as a result of different issues and problems whose roots can easily be traced to leadership in efficiency”. This revelation receives high support from Ovwigho (2006), Tijjani&Shehu (2007),Igunnu (2008) andMaina (2008)who unanimously affirmed that “the main problem of Education in the 21st Century is Leadership”. This of course had made leadership education of recent to be the most fascinating and highly discussed aspect of educational administration in Nigeria.

Many studies on leadership have attempted to understand what makes a leader effective. Are leadership skills born with the people? Or can they be taught and learnt from the characteristics of effective leaders?Or does leadership depend entirely on the situation? What personal characteristics distinguish leaders from non-leaders? What leadership behaviours distinguish effective leaders from non-effective leaders? What role do followers play in leadership? Is each leader equally suited to influence all types of followers? What role does the context or situation play with respect to leadership? Do all situations

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involving group effort require leadership? This of course, prompts Nwachukwu (2004) to reveal that “of all the hazy and compounding areas in social psychology, a leadership studies undoubtedly contends for top nomination”. He however added that “more had been written and less known about the concept of leadership”. It is on this regard therefore, that management scientists since the beginning of 21st Century became curious on developing a dependable solution to the question of: who a distinct leader is, his traits and styles of leadership in order to resolve high pending issues of administrative inefficiency in a productive and competitive society.

Differentials in perceptions on leadership studies by different management scientists such as Adesina (1990), Harvart (1997), Nwachukwu (2004), Ngu (2005), Creighton(2004), Demmock&Walkeer (2005), Hoyte (2002), Snowden & Gorton (2002), Obamiro (2011), and Lunenburg & Ornstein (2012) among others gave rise to diverse views on the concept such as, that leadership can be perceived as: a set of personality characteristics; the exercise of influence;afocus on group process; the act of inducing compliance;an act or behaviour;a form of persuasion;an effect of interaction; an instrument of goal achievement;differentials in roles; or the initiation of structures.

It is fallacious to assume that all leaders will behave the same to subordinates or subjects in all situations in an organization. In fact, some leaders may be found utilizing their authority or trait in most extreme cases while others may tend to be moderate as upheld by Ngu(2005). Therefore, each leader develops his own styles of leadership or motivating his staff depending on his philosophy of management. According to Barbara (2005), “a mark of a good Principal is to be able to provide consistent motivation to staff and students, encouraging them to attain excellence and quality in their performance. A

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good Principal is always looking for ways to improve job performance and the academic standards in a school”. One would be left with such questions as: What is the best leadership style in a school system? What is the common leadership style of Principal in a school?Are all leadership styles suitable for school management? In attempt to provide viable responses to the above questions, the focus might be an assessment of various principals‟ leadership stylesin the school. Indeed, the aim of this research work is to provide an objective answer to issues ofprincipals‟ leadership styleson the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in Nigeria using an instrument titled = Questionnaire on Assessment of Principals‟ Leadership Stylesin the Management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria.

1.2             Statement of the Problem

The educational system world over is undergoing relentless change, transformation and reform. Student populations are more diverse, single parent and disadvantaged families are on the rise, numbers of special needs students are increasing and educational policies and societal changes have placed more demands and pressures on Principals. Almost every aspect of a school‟s management, leadership and governance structure has become increasingly complex, dynamic and demanding. As a result of the evolution of education in the 21st Century, a teacher‟s role, a principal‟s responsibilities and the overall expectations on students have been transformed. However, Duze (2012) asserted thatsome of the Federal Government Colleges(Unity Schools) are riddled with serious problems linked to leadership styles of the school principals, these problems included internal squabbles between principal and subordinates, taking of vital decisions without the notice of other management staff, negligence, purposeful lethargy, and lack of dedication, zeal, and poor

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attitude to teaching which goes on unsolved incolleges. Others are absence of leadership prestige by the Principals, inconsistency of policies and decisions in the colleges, low rate of students‟ academic performance in public examinations, absence of staff motivation, training and development among others.

The Principals, who are the executive administrative, the chief accounting officers and also the instructional leaders of their colleges, are to execute developments in terms of providing effective leadership styles in management of their colleges that would improve staff‟ job performance and students‟ academic standards in the colleges. Staff in this study comprises the management staff (the principal, vice principals, head of departments and bursar), academic staff (teachers) and the non-academic staff (supportive staff). These categories of staff are expected to work with the principals to deliver the goals and objectives of education at this level effectively and efficiently. The supportive staff includes the executive officers (admin), executive officers (account), librarians, typists and computer operators, security staff, matron and patron in the hostels, maintenance staff and medical staff. How principals perform leadership role of motivating and coordinating staff towards the attainment of predetermined school objectives has been a matter of concern to many educational engineers in Nigeria (Duze, 2012; Nwangwu, 2007; Okigbo, 2007; Adeyemi, 2006; Obioma, 2005; Ogbodo, 2002; Aghenta, 2001; Nwadiani, 1998).

Duze(2012) opined that Federal Government Colleges (Unity Schools) at present are going through a reality check. Many Nigerians have lost faith in the lofty ideals of the schools as a result of poor leadership in management of these institutions. That these schools no longer serve the purpose and intent for which they were established of recent, a lot of issues have come to the fore to elucidate the descent the Unity Colleges have gone,

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prompting most Nigerians to question the relevance of their continued existence. The biggest problem of those schools, apart from the perennial admission racketeering which has given credence to mediocrity rather than meritocracy, is that they have been embroiled in allegations of various misdemeanours ranging from commercialisation of the schools, outright ineffective and inefficient leadership role and embezzlement of funds by the principals. There is also exploitation and extortion of parents by levies which is too much to bear by principals, thereby making the colleges tantamount to being run like private schools. At independence and especially after the devastating civil war, government said the establishment of Unity Schools as one of the measures to recreate the spirit of nationhood shattered in the three-year violent orgy. To ensure they do not discriminate on the basis of religion, ethnicity and class, they were heavily subsidised. Principal as leader of school has been identified as the one who must held accountable for poor performance in school (Gunter, 2001). This is because Principals have a poor perception of their jobs with respect to their leadership and instructional roles which relate with their job performance, all of which can defeat the most successful school activities and lead to probable demise of schools. It is in the light of this that this study is being carried out to assess principals‟ leadership styles on the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria.

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1.3             Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study was to assess principals‟ leadership styles in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to:

1.      examine the prevalence of principals‟ autocratic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria;

2.      assess the prevalence ofprincipals‟ democratic leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria;

3.      determine the prevalence of principals‟ laissez-faire leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria;

4.      verify the prevalence of principals‟ nomothetic leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria;

5.      ascertain the prevalence of principals‟ idiographic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria;

6.      establish the prevalence ofprincipals‟ transactional leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria; and

7.      find out the prevalence ofprincipals‟ transformational leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria.

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1.4             Research Questions

This study answered the following questions:

1.      How does the opinion of the respondents (management staff, academic staff and non-academic staff)differ on the prevalence ofprincipals‟ autocratic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

2.      To what extent does the opinion of the respondents differ on the prevalence ofprincipals‟ democratic leadership style in the management of Federal UnityColleges in North- Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

3.      Is there any difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ laissez-faire leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

4.      How does the opinion of the respondents differ on the prevalence of principals‟ nomothetic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

5.      Isthere any difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ idiographic leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

6.      To what extent does the opinion of the respondents differ on the prevalence of principals‟ transactional leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

7.      How does the opinion of the respondents differ on the prevalence of principals‟ transformational leadership style in the management ofFederal Unity Colleges in

North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria?

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1.5     Hypotheses

Based on the research questions, the following null hypotheses were formulated:

1.      There is no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents (management staff, academic staff and non-academic staff) on the prevalence ofprincipals‟

autocratic leadership style in the management of Federal UnityColleges in North-Central Geo-PoliticalZone, Nigeria.

2.      There is no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ democratic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North- Central Geo-PoliticalZone, Nigeria.

3.      There is no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ laissez-faire leadership style in the management of Federal UnityColleges in North-Central Geo-PoliticalZone, Nigeria.

4.      There is no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ nomothetic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria.

5.      There is no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ idiographic leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-PoliticalZone, Nigeria.

6.      There is no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents on the prevalence of principals‟ transactional leadership style in the management of Federal Unity Colleges in North-Central Geo-Political Zone, Nigeria.


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