Attaining an organizational success goal requires a shared vision, an action plan, and stakeholder commitment. Lezotte and Snyder (2011) found the most significant feature common to world-class schools was an on-going effort toward becoming “learning organizations with a commitment to continuous problem-solving and a sense of shared responsibility for improvement” (p. 67). A consistent exhibition of vision toward a clear mission, commitment to learning for all, and shared responsibility for success, certainly appears to be minimal requirements to promote an effective, collaborative school climate. Development of an inclusive, inviting, empowered, organizational climate requires effective leadership willing to utilize an effective, consistent, and collaborative, learning community.
Change in school climate requires development of professional learning communities and improvement to other stakeholder relationships. Effective leaders create invitations for success and systemically plan for professional development and encourage utilization of action research to improve collaboration, instruction, and classroom assessment practices (Marzano & Waters, 2008. Professionals readily sharing their successful strategies for optimizing stakeholder relationships and willingly conducting action research optimize life-long learning, which then promotes the sustained, educational improvement.
Invitational Education Theory provides a framework for assessing and monitoring school climate. As a self-concept approach, Invitational Education Theory helps stakeholders within an organization realize their full potential. The framework avoids a quick-fix approach by encouraging vigilance before affirming sustained change (Purkey & Strahan, 1995). Vigilance is key because changing how a school operates requires transforming its people (Asbill, 1994). School reform requires systemic metamorphosis, based on holistic analysis of the people, places, policies, programs, and processes (the Five Ps).
By concentrating on five areas contributing to school success or failure, Invitational Education Theory (Purkey & Siegel, 2013) provides a specific framework for schools to invite success. These “five powerful factors–people, places, policies, programs, and processes (the five P’s)–are highly significant for their separate and combined influence on Invitational Leadership” (p. 104). The five P’s offer almost limitless opportunities to address the total organizational climate or ecosystem.
“Investment in people results in effective change” (Hansen, 1998, p.17). Invitational leaders involve and empower people, thereby helping the individual become part of an effective team (Burns & Martin, 2010). Empowering leadership produces a strong positive effect on followers who desire autonomy. By contrast, directive leadership produces “a stronger negative effect on followers who were high on the need for autonomy” (Seokhwa, Cox, & Sims, 2006, p. 374). Crucially, the invitational leader recognizes “the worker is no longer a cog…but is an intelligent part of the overall process” (Gates, 1999, p. 289).
In the invitational leadership model, places, and the perceptions of those that come into them, contribute to the school’s success or failure. Effective leaders can establish a successful school climate through “awareness of the need to include all stakeholders in as many of the decision making processes as possible” (Burns & Martin, 2010, p, 33). When schools possess a positive school climate, they exhibit an environment that encourages “decision making characterized by participation, cooperation, and collaboration” (Hansen, 1998, p. 17).
While the school’s culture determines the tone of staff and students’ engagement, the leader establishes the school’s climate (Goleman, 2006b). One way a leader contributes to a positive school climate is to nourish trusting and caring relationships and practicing empathetic social interactions. Invitational leaders exhibit optimism, respect, trust, and intentionality. Crucially, a leader utilizing these tenets to promote a positive school climate must demonstrate high emotional intelligence behaviors, especially in social awareness and relationship management (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009).
Any organization benefits from an inviting leader that utilizes Invitational Education Theory and demonstrates high emotional intelligence. While the leader establishes the school’s climate (Goleman, 2006b), the stakeholders’ perceptions influence the required metamorphosis to the organizational climate as assessed by the five P’s. Although everyone and everything within the environment can influence self-concept, how well the leader implements the tenets of Invitational Education Theory influences the group’s beliefs and choices of behavior. As elements of emotional intelligence, social awareness and relationship management include the ability to accurately recognize emotions in other people and understand what is really happening with them. This often means recognizing what other people are thinking and feeling even if you do not feel the same way (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002).
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities (Voltaire, 1764). The inviting leader utilizing Invitational Education Theory is more effective when demonstrating high emotional intelligence. One benefit of this synergy of skills is the mitigation of negative-based absurdities because the leader consciously seeks to reduce learning overload. Learning overload prevents recognition of progress and achievement of stated goals (Reason, 2010). The effective inviting leader recognizes this and seeks to “clearly identify the learning focal points that matter” (Reason, 2010, p. 100), thereby mitigating stressors that overwhelm stakeholders’ perception and their ability to attend to focal points.
The ability to demonstrate high emotional intelligence while integrating the tenets of Invitational Education Theory effectively create an empowering school climate. Optimistic mindsets then become more pervasive. Optimism reduces stakeholder absurdities, results in higher self-efficacy, and increases belief that the leader and other stakeholders are capable, valuable, and responsible. Compared to the pervasive, control-oriented approaches, effective implementation of Invitational Education Theory by a leader demonstrating high emotional intelligence behaviors provides a synergy, which optimizes the provision of a high challenge/low risk environment whereby all stakeholders can thrive.
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