Secondary School Science Department Chairs Leading Successful Change

Julie Ann Gaubatz, David C Ensminger


A foundational understanding within education leadership literature is that education leaders are expected to guide reform efforts within school systems (e.g., Darling-Hammond, 2001; Evans, 1996; Fullan, 2001). This expectation mirrors organizational development literature that describes leaders as individuals who constructively institute change within their organizations (e.g., Northouse, 2004; Havelock & Zlotolow, 1995; Yukl & Lepsinger, 2005). Although leadership and change are portrayed as codependent and recursive phenomena within both educational and organizational development literature, no scholarship has linked change models with leadership theories (Herold, Fedor, Caldwell, & Liu, 2008). This article describes a multiple case study that explored the relationship between leadership behaviors and the change process through secondary school department chair stories of change. From the analysis of these stories of successful and unsuccessful change attempts, a clearer picture emerged that illustrates how leaders with little control over decisions implement change. Findings included distinct connections between CREATER change process stages (Havelock & Zlotolow, 1995) and specific leadership behaviors related to the Leadership Grid (Blake & McCanse, 1991; Yukl, Gordon, and Tabers, 2002), as well as change-leadership patterns that differentiate successful and unsuccessful change. Based on these findings, suggestions as to how education leaders should approach change attempts within their schools are discussed.


Department Chair, Leadership, Change Management, Secondary School

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Copyright (c) 2015 Julie Ann Gaubatz, David C Ensminger

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