The interaction of leadership and climate in four suburban schools: Limits and possibilities

Christine Johanna Villani, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to investigate the leadership behaviors of elementary school principals and the effect these behaviors have on establishing school climate. The study also sought to investigate the influence these behaviors had on teacher productivity and the self-esteem and academic achievement of the student. In addition, the study investigated the teacher behaviors that may affect the climate of the school. Ten suburban elementary schools were given the Organizational Climate Questionnaire for Elementary Schools-Revised. Based on the results, four schools were selected for this study. The schools selected were as follows: one large school with a closed climate, one large and one small school with an open climate, and one small school that bordered on having a closed climate. Size was defined by the current enrollment of the school. A school with an enrollment of under 300 was considered small, whereas an enrollment over 350 was considered large. Each of the principals was interviewed on more than one occasion. In addition, at least two teachers and two fourth-grade students per school were interviewed. Field observations were done as well as a review of school documents. Results indicated that despite how a school scored on the questionnaire, a qualitative investigation provided a different picture. The results demonstrated that security and strength in an administrator is the determining factor for the effectiveness of the school whether or not the leadership behaviors were closed or open. In addition, security and strength impacted on the collegiality and engagement of the faculty. The issue of self-esteem and academic achievement was not as clear, except in the school that displayed a principal who was strong, secure, and fostered open leadership behaviors. The study concluded that strength and security were factors that impacted on the leadership behaviors of the principal in establishing school climate and that further inquiry into these facets is indicated.

Subject Area

School administration|Occupational psychology|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Villani, Christine Johanna, "The interaction of leadership and climate in four suburban schools: Limits and possibilities" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9729612.