Successful leadership in challenging US schools: Enabling principles, enabling schools

Stephen L. Jacobson, Lauri Johnson, Rose Ylimaki, Corrie Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Purpose - This study aims to examine seven challenging schools in the US and the practices their principals employed in leading these schools to a measure of success in terms of student performance. Design/methodology/approach - Uses a case study methodology, a two-stage framework is used to analyze the data. First, uses Leithwood and Riehl's three core leadership practices to determine whether these leaders were demonstrating the necessary practices for success, then develops and describes three principles that enabled these leaders to translate their core practices into school success: accountability, caring and learning. Findings - The principals formed a diverse group, varying in gender, race, experience and education. But they shared some common characteristics, most notably, all seven demonstrated facility with the core leadership practices of direction setting, developing people and redesigning the organization. They were leaders who managed to set and maintain a sense of purpose and direction for their schools and generally exerted a positive influence on people's willingness to follow their lead, even in the face of challenging conditions. Originality/value - Provides recommendations for the preparation and practice of school leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-618
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Leadership
  • Schools
  • Teachers
  • United States of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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