Diversity leadership skills of school administrators: A scale development study
Soner Polat, Yaser Arslan and Dinçer Ölçüm
Kocaeli University, Turkey
The aim of this study is to develop a valid and reliable instrument to determine the level of school administrators' diversity leadership based on teachers' perceptions. For this purpose, an item pool was created which includes 68 questions based on the literature, and data were obtained from 343 teachers. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was applied first, and later confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was applied for the construct validity. According to EFA results, a scale composed of three sub-dimensions (diversity inclusion and integration, equity, respect for diversity) that explained 67.3% of total variance and 37 items was achieved. Item-total correlations ranged from 0.488 to 0.771, and factor loadings ranged from 0.540 to 0.748. CFA results confirmed a three-factored construct (χ2/df=2.36, RMSEA=0.063, SRMR=0.036, NNFI=0.99, CFI=0.99, GFI=0.81). For the reliability analysis Cronbach's alpha and Spearman Brown coefficients were used. Cronbach's alpha internal consistency coefficient was found as 0.98, and Spearman Brown formula split-half reliability coefficient was found as 0.96 for the entire scale. The psychometric properties of the Diversity Leadership Scale (DLS) showed that the scale is a valid and reliable instrument.
Diversity leadership is defined as "a process of acting respectfully, sensitively, and tolerably against the diversity of individuals with many differences such as gender, language, religion, race, ethnic origin, personality and political view by accepting them as they are, making use of such diversity of individuals in line with the objectives of the organization and directing such people in line with common objectives by holding them together in harmony, thanks to an impartial and fair management mentality" (Polat & Ölçüm, 2016, p. 72).
Individuals with widening differences in gender, age, and ethnicity have participated in the workforce under the impact of globalisation and economic reasons in recent decades. The members of organisations who come together to achieve organisational goals such as performance, profitability, productivity, and effectiveness want to adapt to their organisations and colleagues, and also, they want to represent their differences (gender, age, disability, etc.) liberally, and hope to respect these differences in the workforce (Survegil & Budak, 2008). When differences are handled at an organisational level, employee differences may help the emergence of new and creative ideas in the direction of different perspectives and opinions. Thus, this may help the productivity of the organisation. Hence, it can be asserted that when individual and socio-cultural differences such as age, gender, religious, language, race, ethnicity, and level of education are managed effectively, this may be a facilitating effect for achieving organisational goals. Showers (2016) stated that organisations which have differences amongst employees perform 35% better than similar but more homogenous organisations. However, employees' job satisfaction and organisational commitment levels may decrease, and social divisions and conflicts may arise when differences are not managed correctly (Hostager & Meuse, 2008).
Dotlich, Cairo and Rhinesmith (2009) stated that leaders' abilities may be inadequate in some conditions, regardless of how empathic and qualified they may be, and asserted that it is necessary to benefit from different ideas and perspectives of stakeholders to understand and analyse these conditions and develop new strategies. This will help diversity of abilities to have positive impacts on the effectiveness of actions, and illustrate that diversity of the group is more important than mastery when finding creative solutions (Lim, 2015). Thus, it can be asserted that diversity in the workforce is an important element for organisations.
The purpose of diversity leadership is to create a tolerance based climate and mutual understanding between individuals who have demographic, cultural and social differences within the organisation, and increase employee motivation and performance by building a common culture. Educational organisations incorporate much diversity both for teachers and students. Therefore, school administrators' diversity leadership skills (e.g. approach to diversity, justice, equity, empathy, conflict management) are needed to increase harmony and cooperation among teachers. These skills are vital for achieving a school's objectives. Schools aim to prepare students for life towards their interests and abilities, and contribute to their personal development. One of the most important factors in achieving school aims is teacher effectiveness. In this context, increasing teacher motivation and performance by building a positive school climate and culture is quite important. Additionally, with effective guidance, diversity amongst teachers will contribute an extra benefit to students' development. Therefore, it is thought that school administrators' leading of diversity in educational organisations will contribute to school effectiveness. Effective diversity leadership affects communication, performance, productivity (Jehn, Northcraft & Neale, 1999), organisational success (Winston, 2001) and organisational commitment (Jauhari and Singh, 2013) positively. Also, it decreases job absenteeism, job turnover and conflicts (Dreachslin, Weech-Maldonado & Dansky, 2004).
Effective diversity leaders should recognise themselves first, their followers next, be aware of cultural and social differences, raise awareness of this issue, support diversity to avoid static organisational structure, and support the emergence of new diversity leaders in the organisation (Aguirre & Martinez, 2006). Hopkins and Hopkins (1999) listed the characteristics of effective diversity leaders as sensitivity, objectivity, mediation, tolerance, sincerity, instructiveness, care, effective communication, and optimism. Polat and Ölçüm (2016, p. 72) listed necessary characteristics of an effective diversity leader as justice (equity, objectivity, non-discrimination), ability to manage diversity (respecting differences, accepting differences, awareness and utilisation of differences) integration, mediation, empathy, tolerance, and keeping values. Consequently, it can be said that necessary characteristics of an effective diversity leader may be classified in three main headings, diversity inclusion and integration, equity, and respect for diversity. The relation between these concepts and diversity leadership is discussed below.
Factors like increasing individual awareness, the need for making organisational changes to provide social justice, lack of traditional organisational development practices for supporting and developing workplace diversity, national and international demographic changes, and positive relationships between high morale, productivity and diversity require that organisations should change towards improved integration of differences (Doyle & George, 2008). Integration refers to taking advantage of different individuals' perspectives in organisational decision-making processes. Integration behaviour of the leader ensures the sharing of individuals' information, and increases their motivation by supporting their involving in decision-making and managerial processes. There is a positive relationship between diversity integration and individual performance (Van de Ven, Rogers, Bechara & Sun, 2008). Consequently, it can be asserted that acts such as accepting and supporting differences, benefiting from diversity, and building a diversity-friendly climate affects organisational commitment, organisational citizenship behaviour, and organisational performance positively by increasing employee motivation.
As researchers lack good data collection tools for assessing diversity leadership skills, the aim of the study is to develop a valid and reliable scale for use in school contexts, examining principals' diversity leadership levels from the perspectives of teachers. This scale may both contribute to the diversity literature and be used for studies focusing on the professional development of school principals.
SPSS 15 was used for reliability analysis; LISREL 8.7 was used for validity analysis. Reliability was tested via Cronbach's alpha and Spearman coefficients; the construct validity of DLS was tested via EFA and CFA. EFA was conducted by using varimax and principal component analysis; χ2 / sd, RMSEA, GFI, NNFI, CFI, and SRMR fit indices were used for evaluation of CFA model.
Compatibility of data set to factor analysis was tested via Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) and Bartlett's test of sphericity. The value obtained through KMO test was 0.97. Chi-square was calculated as χ2 (11770.22, p < 0.01) as a result of Bartlett's test of sphericity. Having a significant result from Bartlett's test reveals that the data creates a multivariate normal distribution. These results can be interpreted as that data set is appropriate for factor analysis (Cokluk, Sekercioglu & Buyukozturk, 2012).
Item factor loadings of 26 items were under .50 and/or overlapped more than one item following EFAs. 25 items whose item factor loadings were under .50 and/or overlapped more than one dimension were eliminated from the scale. Although item 21 overlapped for two dimensions, researchers decided not to eliminate this item, since item 21 is quite important for the content validity of the scale. EFA was conducted for 37 items again. Analysis results are shown in Table 1.
|11||Our principals try to gain information about teachers' different aspects for benefiting from their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|12||Our principals try to understand teachers' emotions and thoughts about their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|15||Our principals contribute to effective communication among different groups of teachers.||1||2||3||4||5|
|16||Our principals create an environment that teachers declare their ideas clearly associated with their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|18||Our principals try to understand the reasons for teachers' behaviours caused by their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|21||Our principals try to ensure that teachers accept each other's differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|25||Our principals try to meet teachers' expectations about their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|26||Our principals are sensitive to the expectations of teachers based on their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|28||Our principals are careful about the differences that teachers are sensitive to.||1||2||3||4||5|
|29||Our principals try to build a common culture within the school by starting from teacher differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|30||Our principals try to ensure that the parties understand each other during conflicts among teachers with different qualifications.||1||2||3||4||5|
|31||Our principals help teachers in improving their different aspects.||1||2||3||4||5|
|35||Our principals support teachers in improving their personal values based on their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|43||Our principals try to help teachers in protecting their various cultural values.||1||2||3||4||5|
|47||Our principals try to turn conflicts arising from teachers' differences into a school benefit.||1||2||3||4||5|
|51||Our principals try to raise awareness about the differences of teachers in school.||1||2||3||4||5|
|58||Our principals strive for building a common value system based on the differences of teachers.||1||2||3||4||5|
|64||Our principals consider the views of teachers about their differences while solving the problems.||1||2||3||4||5|
|Equity||22||Our principals treat teachers equally while applying punishments and sanctions.||1||2||3||4||5|
|36||Our principals do not evaluate teachers with their physical appearances, skin colour, hair colour, clothing style, etc.||1||2||3||4||5|
|37||Our principals treat equally when distributing rewards and achievements without negatively assessing teachers' differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|40||Our principals ensure that all teachers benefit from school facilities equally, unaffected by their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|42||Our principals do not show favouritism to teachers because of their different characteristics.||1||2||3||4||5|
|44||Our principals are equally distant from the teachers of different ethnic backgrounds.||1||2||3||4||5|
|46||Our principals do not show favouritism to teachers because of their different ideologies.||1||2||3||4||5|
|49||Our principals do not discriminate against teachers because of their differences related to religious/sectarian beliefs.||1||2||3||4||5|
|52||Our principals take performance criteria into consideration instead of teachers' differences when evaluating performance.||1||2||3||4||5|
|53||Our principals do not discriminate against teachers because of their social status differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|59||Our principals treat equally during their interaction with the teachers who have different characteristics.||1||2||3||4||5|
|63||Our principals do not approach teachers with prejudice because of their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|65||Our principals do not judge teachers because of their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|2||Our principals do not discriminate based on the sex of teachers.||1||2||3||4||5|
|3||Our principals accept interpersonal differences as normal.||1||2||3||4||5|
|4||Our principals show respect for teachers' diversity.||1||2||3||4||5|
|5||Our principals approach teachers' problems about their differences by trying to put themselves in their place.||1||2||3||4||5|
|6||Our principals do not exclude teachers because of their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|9||Our principals do not put pressure on teachers because of their differences.||1||2||3||4||5|
|Authors: Soner Polat is an associate professor at Kocaeli University Faculty of Education in the Department of Educational Administration, from where he received his doctorate in 2007. He has 17 years of experience in various academic positions, also worked as a teacher in various levels of education. His research interests are diversity management, peace education, and organisational image.|
Yaser Arslan is a research assistant and a PhD student at Kocaeli University in the Department of Educational Administration, from where he received his MA in 2013. He has six years of experience in the Faculty of Education, also worked as a primary school teacher for one year. His research interests are organisational happiness, diversity approaches, and organisational image.
Dinçer Ölçüm is a science teacher and a PhD student at Kocaeli University in the Department of Educational Administration. He has 13 years of experience in teaching and school management in public schools. His research interests include decision-making styles, job satisfaction, leadership, organisational power and politics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please cite as: Polat, S., Arslan, Y. & Ölçüm (2017). Diversity leadership skills of school administrators: A scale development study. Issues in Educational Research, 27(3), 512-526. http://www.iier.org.au/iier27/polat.html