A study of leadership qualities of principals of good secondary schools in Imo State, Nigeria

Emmanuel Chinonye Nwogwugwu, Fordham University


This study examines how leadership is understood and exercised by principals of good secondary schools in Imo state, Nigeria. The study investigates how and in what sense three of the good secondary schools in Imo state earned their reputation of goodness and how the principals' leadership qualities factored in making these schools stand out as good schools among other public schools in the state. The study adopts qualitative research methods of interviews, observations, and analyses of relevant documents to explore the thoughts and activities of principals, teachers, students, and parents of the three schools in order to understand the essential features, values, styles, and personalities of the actors that shape and define each school's educational landscapes. Through this qualitative methodology, one is able to notice the congruency or disparity between leaders' policy and practice, ideology, and reality over a range of matters in each school setting. The study found the leadership of the three schools to be good according to the Nigerian yardstick of goodness. The study shows that the principals of the three secondary schools played very significant roles in helping their schools earn the reputation of goodness. The principals distinguished themselves from other public school principals by articulating professional practices in school administration and thus proved that good schools with good leadership are possible through commitment, courage, and emphasis on collective responsibility. Findings indicate that the principals raised their schools to a reputable standard of goodness by adopting different leadership styles as different circumstances manifested themselves in the administrative field. Some of the leadership frames adopted by these principals include: the structural frame of leadership, which tends to be analytical and authority-oriented; the human-resource style, which emphasizes values and ethic of care in decision making; the political frame, which highlights power relationship associated with ownership of the means of production; and finally, the symbolic frame, which attempts to create meaning out of irrational circumstances or situations through the use of symbols, rites, plays, humor, myths, stories, and ceremonies. The study concludes that there is no single ideal leadership style that cuts across all cultural boundaries or that must be followed by principals to attain a reputable standard of goodness in schools. Rather, different circumstances determine different leadership styles to be adopted. Leadership is culture-bound (Maxcy, 1995).

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Nwogwugwu, Emmanuel Chinonye, "A study of leadership qualities of principals of good secondary schools in Imo State, Nigeria" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9824346.