Is it your personality, your boundary leadership or both? An integrative approach for the improvement of school management team effectiveness

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Purpose: Reorganizing schools and managing through teams is seen as a way to achieve school goals, especially in educational contexts that are highly focused on measurable student achievements. This shift to shared leadership requires principals to play a key role in promoting school management team (SMT) outcomes. Accordingly, this study aims to investigate how principals' personality traits and behavior complement each other and combine in an integrative model of SMT effectiveness. Specifically, the research aims to examine the mediating role of principals' internal and external boundary activities between principals' traits from the Big Five typology, namely, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience and neuroticism and SMT effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from two sources to minimize problems associated with same-source bias. In total, 92 SMTs and their principals from 92 public schools in Israel participated in the study. Overall, 295 SMT members and 92 principals were included in the sample. Data were aggregated at the school level of analysis. The theoretical model was tested with structural equation modeling. The bootstrapping procedure, to ascertain the presence of indirect effects, was employed. Findings: The findings of structural equation modeling indicated that principal external activities partially mediated the relationship of conscientiousness and extraversion to SMT effectiveness, providing support for an integrated trait–behavioral model of leadership for SMT effectiveness. Originality/value: As schools involve increasingly interconnected professional networks based on relationships, acknowledging that SMT effectiveness may be influenced by principals' personality traits that translate into leadership behavior may clarify the implications of principals' traits for educational teams. Importantly, the proposed integrative model points to possible mechanisms linking principal traits, behaviors and effectiveness by positioning principals' boundary activities as one possible mechanism through which principal traits facilitate SMT effectiveness. The findings can help deepen our understanding of which kinds of principals engage in boundary activities, contributing to the discussion of what factors influence principals' practices with implications for school managers' selection practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-687
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number6
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2021


  • Big Five
  • Boundary activities
  • Principals
  • School management team
  • Team effectiveness

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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