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This study was conducted to investigate transformational leadership style of principals in human
resource management in public secondary schools in South East Nigeria. The study was guided
by four research questions with four corresponding null hypotheses formulated. Literature
relevant to the study was reviewed. Descriptive survey research design was adopted for the
study. The population of the study consisted of 25, 220 principals and teachers in 1,244 public
secondary schools in the five South East states of Nigeria, out of which 1, 250 comprising 1000
teachers and 250 principals, were sampled using proportionate stratified random sampling
technique. A structured questionnaire titled Transformational Leadership Style of Principals and
Human Resource Management Questionnaire. (TLSPHRMQ) with reliability of 0.95 was used
for data collection. 1,250 copies of the questionnaire were distributed and 1,233 were returned.
Data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviations to answer the research
questions, while t-test statistics was used to test the null hypothesis at .05 level of significance.
The results indicated that principals of public secondary schools in South East Nigeria fairly
(great extent) adopt transformational leadership style, sometimes (little extent) adopt
transactional leadership style and once in a while (very little extent) adopt laizzez faire
leadership style. It was also found that the principals adopt transformational leadership style and
staff development, staff motivation and staff discipline to a great extent. The null hypotheses
tested showed that there is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals and
teachers on leadership styles of principals, there is no significant difference between the mean
ratings of principals and teachers on the extent principals adopt transformational leadership in
staff discipline. Other findings include; there is significant difference between the mean ratings
of principals and teachers on the extent principals adopt transformational leaderships style in
staff development and that there is significant difference between the mean rating of principals
and teachers on the extent principals adopt transformational leadership style in staff motivation.
Based on the findings, the researcher recommended among others that school board of different
states in South East Nigeria who are responsible for appointing new principals should make it a
point of duty to train them in transformational leadership style, and that educational policy
makers on their part should make a policy for in-service training of principals in transformational
leadership practices, so that those principals who are already making use of transformational
leadership style in their different schools will be encouraged.
Background of the Study
Nigeria as a nation is faced with the challenges of a developing nation which are;
domestic and external constraints to growth among which include; lack of employment
generation, policy implementation and lack of follow-up of the policy among others. To confront
these challenges of the 21st century, the Nigerian government under former president Goodluck
Jonathan came up with the Transformational Agenda, which is geared towards bringing Nigeria
to the league of world’s 20 leading economies by the year 2020. One of the focuses of the
Transformational Agenda is investing in human resources to transform the Nigerian people into
active agents for growth and national development. Human resources are one of the resources
utilized in achieving the goals and objectives of an organization. Human resources are the
workers, in an organization. Hence as educational organizations are critical to the success of any
national agenda, (Balarabe 2012), their human resources really need to be influenced and
directed towards its strategic objectives. This could be attained through an effective leadership
that is proactive, encourages followers to do what is required to help them attain unexpected
goals. This influence could be achieved through transformational leadership style.
Leadership is the central process of an organization. Oboegbulem and Onwurah (2011)
defined leadership as a process of influencing, directing, acquiring normative personal
characteristics and power, and coordinating group activities to make individuals in an
organization strive willingly towards the attainment of organizational goals. Ade (2003) defined
leadership as a social influence process in which the leader seeks the voluntary participation of
subordinate in an effort to reach organizational objectives. Hoy and Miskel (2013) noted that
leadership is a social process in which an individual or a group influences behaviour towards, a
shared goal. Ibukun (2008) remarked that without leadership, an organization can best be
described as a scene of confusion and chaos. This means that a good organizational structure
alone may not solve the problem of school organization or any educational enterprise as whole.
This is why Nwankwo (2007), argues that good organizational structure requires effective
leadership to achieve set objectives. Leadership influences, coordinates, energizes and directs the
subordinates to achieve set objectives among others. It is a social process, which seeks ways to
use the subordinates to achieve the organizational objectives. When leadership is in action, the
leader succeeds in using the subordinates under him/her to achieve the organizational objectives
For the purpose of this study, leadership can therefore be defined as a social process, used
to influence the behaviour of subordinates in order to achieve the objectives of an organization.
Leadership visualizes what needs to be achieved, and goes all the way choosing appropriate
activities, skills as the case may be to achieve them. By implication, the leader persuades,
influences and co-ordinates the members in the group, so that they can willingly strive with
maximum energy to discharge their allocated duties and responsibilities for high level of
productivity in the organization.
Leadership theories can be featured generally as being concerned with who leads (i.e.
characteristics of leaders) how they lead (i.e., leader behaviours) under what circumstances they
lead (i.e., situational theories, contingency theories), or who follows the leader (i.e. relational
theories) Cleveland, Stockdale and Murphy,2000). Examples of all four approaches to leadership
are trait approaches which is a conventional vision that great leaders possess special, traits that
distinguish them from other people, behavioural approaches; which focuses on what leaders do
rather than what traits they possess, contingency theories.


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