Leaders have the main responsibility for generating and sustaining culture and communicating core values and beliefs both within the organization and to external stakeholders (Bush, 1998, p. 43). Principals have their own values and beliefs arising from many years of successful professional practice. They are also expected to embody the culture of the school or college. Schein (1997) argues that cultures spring primarily from the beliefs, values and assumptions of founders of organizations. However, it should be noted that cultural change is difficult and problematic. Hargreaves (1999) claims that “most people’s beliefs, attitudes and values are far more resistant to change than leaders typically allow” (p. 59-60).
The leadership model most closely linked to organizational culture is that of moral leadership. This model assumes that the critical focus of leadership ought to be on the values, beliefs and ethics of leaders themselves. Authority and influence are to be derived from defensible conceptions of what is right or good (Leithwood et al, 1999, p. 10).
Sergiovanni (1984) says that “excellent schools have central zones composed of values and beliefs that take on sacred or cultural characteristics” (p. 10). The moral dimension of leadership is based on “normative rationality; rationality based on what we believe and what we consider to be good” (Sergiovanni, 1991):
Moral leadership is consistent with organizational culture in that it is based on the values, beliefs and attitudes of principals and other educational leaders. It focuses on the moral purpose of education and on the behaviours to be expected of leaders operating within the moral domain. It also assumes that these values and beliefs coalesce into shared norms and meanings that either shape or reinforce culture. The rituals and symbols associated with moral leadership support these values and underpin school culture. (p. 326)
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