Fostering Leadership Capacity in Three South Carolina High Schools: An Exploratory Study


Hattie L. Hammonds, Dr. Hans W. Klar, Dr. Kristin S. Huggins


Dr. Hans W. Klar


Administration and Supervision (College of Health, Education and Human Development)


Some states include fostering teacher leadership in principal evaluations, so principals need to provide opportunities and mentor or coach their staffs to assume leadership roles. Yet, less is known about the specific ways principals develop the leadership capacities of others. In this exploratory study we examined how principals in three South Carolina high schools intentionally fostered the capacities of leaders to enhance their schools’ organizational capacities. Our research questions were: 1) How are emerging leaders identified and selected by their principals? 2) How do principals foster leadership capacity in these leaders? Data collected for this multi-site qualitative study consisted of artifacts and semi-structured 60-90 minute interviews. All interviews were transcribed and analyzed by the research team inductively and deductively using NVivo 10. Our findings indicated that principals selected leaders who: indicated a desire to go into formal leadership roles; had good interpersonal skills and rapport with students and parents; demonstrated persistence and willingness; were effective teachers; had strong personalities; and had a particular skill or knowledge. Our findings for the second question indicate that principals fostered leadership by: mentoring and coaching others to leadership; scaffolding opportunities to lead; and trusting leaders to make the right decision.

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