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The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which servant leadership correlated with perceptions of school climate by identifying if there was a relationship between principals’ and teachers’ perceived practice of servant leadership and of school climate.  The study was done because current research suggests a correlation between servant leadership practice and positive school climate but needs further extension.  The study addressed two research questions: is there a correlation between perceptions of the practice of servant leadership among the sample and perceptions of school climate, and what kind of experiences do the sample have to illustrate those perceptions?


The study used a mixed-method approach and administered two validated quantitative instruments: Laub’s (1998) Organizational Leadership Assessment (OLA) measured the perceived servant leadership in the schools and Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp’s (1991) Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire-Revised (OCDQ-RE) measured the school’s climate. The sample consisted of a randomly selected group of 231 full-time teachers and 15 principals working in a Catholic school board in Ontario, Canada.  After completing the quantitative data analysis, the researchers conducted interviews with focus group consisting of twenty-four members of the sample (approximately 10%).

The main findings of the quantitative phase resulted from a canonical correlation analysis and suggested statistically significant positive relationships among the data from both instruments between perception of servant leader practices and perceptions of school climate.

The authors conclude that school leaders who desire to positively impact their school’s climate would be well served by practicing servant leadership.

The study also revealed wide variation between teacher and principal perception of the practice of servant leadership in their schools, with the principals’ perceptions consistently higher than the teachers’.  The study also suggests that leaders who are Christo-centric might be more likely the practice the tenets of servant leadership.  As for school climate, the study showed that principals perceptions of school climate (eg. openness and professionalism in interactions) were consistently higher than teacher perceptions.

The main findings of the qualitative phase point to the importance of valuing employees, developing them, and sharing leadership when it comes to servant leadership practice.  As for school climate, a supportive principal, intimacy between teachers, and collegiality between teachers, emerged as significant factors.

Through their overall canonical analysis the researchers concluded that

a significant positive relationship exists between perceptions of servant leadership practice and perceptions of school climate.

When teachers and principals perceive behavior characterized by servant leadership they also perceive a positive school climate.  The researchers suggest the implementation of servant leadership practices to improve school climate, which is shown to improve student achievement.  The authors suggest future research regarding servant leadership behaviors in order to better serve principals in their training and professional development.  Research is also required to assess the effects of servant leadership on school climates in other populations.  The researchers did not identify the limits of their study.

Black, G. L. (2008). A correlational analysis of servant leadership and school climate. (Order No. 3309254, University of Phoenix). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 214-n/a. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.ignacio.usfca.edu/docview/193495440?accountid=14674. (193495440).