What makes school leaders inspirational and how does this relate to mentoring?


Peter Hudson

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Leadership comes in many forms (such as transactional, transformational, distributed) and its effectiveness can inspire others to achieve organisational goals and visions. Inspiration as an emotional event requires receptiveness and an awareness of social interdependence. When mentees are inspired by mentor role models they can extend personal attributes and practices. Similar to other leaders, inspiring mentors can motivate mentees to develop a strength of character and achieve goals in the workplace. What makes school leaders inspirational and how does this relate to mentoring? This qualitative study collects data from 25 experienced teachers, which involved written questionnaire, work samples, and audio-recorded focus group discussions. These participants indicated that inspirational school leaders were those who had: (1) organisational goals (e.g., visionary, goal driven, innovative, & motivational); (2) professional skills such as being knowledgeable, communicative, and acknowledging others’ achievements; and (3) personal attributes (e.g., integrity, active listening, respectful, enthusiastic, & approachable). This research shows how mentors and school leaders can consider the inspirational attributes and practices outlined by participants in this study to inspire teaching staff. For example, an awareness of attentive listening, motivational and visionary practices, and acknowledging individual achievements can guide school leaders and mentors to inspire others for achieving organsational goals and visions.