Critical Report: Christian Leadership and Improved Outcomes for Students
In the context of Catholic education examine one approach to Christian leadership- Servant leadership or Faith Leadership and critically report on how it might be used to improve one of the following outcomes for students: (i) Inclusion, or (ii) Pastoral Care, or (iii) Relations with family and parish.

This report focuses on the importance of servant leadership in the pastoral care of students in the catholic schools context. The report examines the facts around servant leadership, discusses the principles that guide servant leaders, and critiques the same leadership model. The report further roles the contribution of this leadership model to improve students’ outcomes, specifically pastoral care. Recommendations are given towards the end of the report as take-home points meant to help the management of catholic schools and students to have a common goal, which is the student’s holistic growth. The report then concludes with a summary of everything covered in the write-up.

Introduction

Leadership is defined as the act of impacting others to achieve a certain goal or objective. Christian leadership, therefore, involves influencing or serving others in the interests of Christ to accomplish the purpose of God through them and for them. Knowledge of the facts around Christian leadership helps one broaden their thinking and improve their leadership strategies while maintaining one’s faithfulness to the values they subscribe to and their commitment to Christ. Over the past decade, there has been an emergence and growth in several faith-based schools and particularly catholic sponsored schools (Spencer & Lucas, 2019). This has led to the need for more research on improving the outcomes of students through various essential leadership approaches in schools.  Two major leadership approaches have been widely used in Catholic-based schools worldwide: servant leadership and faith leadership (Machokoto, 2019). This report will focus on servant leadership and examine how the approach can improve the students’ pastoral care, which is one of the important outcomes. The report will also give recommendations on how best stakeholders in catholic schools can adopt the servant leadership approach.

Examining Servant Leadership

A servant is a person who works by attending to the needs of others. He or she is a person who expresses submission and does his or her duties for the benefit of others. On the other hand, a leader is a person who is in charge, guiding, and giving direction to others. A leader is in command and is the head of a group.  Servant and Leadership are, therefore, two words that seem naturally a paradox. One would wonder if one can be a leader and simultaneously exhibit the features of a servant to the same group of people. Servant leadership is, therefore, a model of leadership whereby the leader’s main objective is to serve others. This leadership philosophy has been adopted since the times of Lau Tzu in 600 B.C. It is still used in leadership today. It is particularly preferred due to its fulfilling nature not only at work but also in the management of organizations in the community. Robert Greenleaf is considered the modern founding father of servant leadership, and he describes it as an opportunity that naturally makes one feel the need to serve first (Catindig & Bueno, 2019). Leaders have widely used This leadership approach in the management of Catholic schools. It has been an important model in guiding them in their work for the best outcomes for their students and the relationships within the schools.

Principles of Servant Leadership

Several principles guide servant leaders. These are the main features common in servant leadership. The first one is integrity. Servant leaders are transparent and authentic in their operations. They are driven by righteousness and do what they stand for. They do not manipulate or deceive to achieve their objectives.

The second principle that guides servant leadership is humility. Servant leaders are more willing to allow qualified people to help them with their tasks. They do not perform to be recognized. They admit whenever they find themselves wrong  (Catindig & Bueno, 2019).

The third principle that is present in servant leaders is servanthood. These leaders tend to enjoy serving others without minding the capacity or role they are in. They can and are willing to sacrifice for the service of others. They endure opposition rebellion. They are driven by the belief that leadership is a responsibility and not a prestigious position to boast around.

The fourth principle that governs servant leadership is empowering others to be better. They always encourage other people in their organizations to take the initiative. Empowering other people around is a major character consistently found in servant leaders. They enjoy seeing other people in their organization taking up roles and developing to be better versions of themselves (Spears, 2010). Team-building and shared decision making is other principle that is widely seen among servant leaders. They achieve their goals by involving others in decision-making and teaming up to do the work. They encourage creativity among the followers and common responsibility in achieving the objectives of the organizations they lead. Many other principles include visioning, goal setting, developing others, caring about others, and being role models to others, among many other virtues.

Critique of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership has been considered perfect in catholic and other Christian-based school management. This is due to its ability to create positive relationships between teachers, students, school subordinate workers, and parents. The leadership model has also led to the empowerment of many young men and women in schools who come out as valuable people in society due to the values they learn from the school leadership style. By allowing students to take the initiative, the management helps them create self-confidence and cultivate problem-solving abilities.

However, various critiques have been associated with servant leadership. One of the critiques is that servant leadership is based on built trust and relationships at workplaces and, in this context, schools. It takes time for the leader to bring that environment of trust and shared responsibility among every stakeholder in the school since trust is not earned over a short time. The second critique is that servant leadership may not fit in every organization and school. The theory may not be ideal for dealing with opposition, as it is normal to have opposition in leadership. Servant leadership is the most ideal approach to catholic schools, although it is hard to come by as not so many leaders subscribe to servanthood while in leadership.

Application of Servant Leadership to Improve Student Outcomes

Servant leadership helps create a perfect environment in catholic schools for better student outcomes through enhanced pastoral care. Pastoral care refers to a school’s commitment to influence the growth and wellness of every student together with all other stakeholders in the school community (tsc.edu.au, 2020). It aims at creating surroundings that are perfect to enhance each student’s emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth. Academic growth and pastoral care are interlinked, and one affects the other. Pastoral care, however, is likely to influence the academic outcome of a student. Therefore, a school that commits to ensuring the academic excellence of its students must be very keen on the pastoral care that the students are getting. The school leadership has to ensure that they adopt a leadership approach that improves the student outcome regarding academic excellence and pastoral care. This means that the leadership approach should promote a culture of teamwork, respect, a sense of belonging, and other principles supporting the students’ pastoral care.

Research has shown a positive relationship between servant leadership and a perfect school climate for improving students’ outcomes such as pastoral care (Black, 2010). There are various ways in which servant leadership creates an environment ideal for pastoral care. The first way is the behavior of the leader. A servant leader has traits that promote empathy, confidence, ethics, shared responsibility, and a sense of belonging within the school. This is through his or her ability to offer a listening ear, encourage the students to take the initiative, involve them in decision-making, and have the best interests of the students at heart (Jones, 2018).

The second way servant leadership promotes the improvement of pastoral care is through the ability of the leader to instill good values and community culture through example. As seen earlier in this report, servant leaders are driven by the urge to serve and encourage others to improve. Through this example, the school community’s spirit of servanthood is spread among the teachers and students (Striepe & O’Donoghue, 2014). Virtues and goodwill guide the general school to build each other. This helps in having a good relationship between the students and teachers, thus helping in improving the overall growth of the students in terms of spirituality, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Humility, trust, and integrity are among the many characteristics of a servant leader (Focht & Ponton, 2015). This means that a school led by a servant leader has high trust between the leader, teachers, and students. The entire school community also has a culture of humility and integrity. This ensures that the students grow with the social, emotional, intellectual, and interactional abilities which are dimensions of the outcomes of pastoral care (Ollerenshaw & McDonald, 2014).

Recommendations

Catholic school leaders should adopt the servant leadership philosophy. This will help them build a school environment for the holistic growth of their students, as it is the main aim of going to school.

Catholic school boards need to encourage the school’s operational leadership, which includes the headteachers and principals, to practice servanthood in the efforts to improve the outcomes of the students in terms of pastoral care. This will create a society full of people of integrity and humility, with the spirit of service to humanity.

The school management should encourage the students to take up the initiative and take responsibility for the various functions of the school. This will create confidence, intelligence, social growth, and problem-solving capacity, desirable outcomes for students.

Students should emulate the good of their servant leaders in their day-to-day activities at school. This will ensure that the expected outcomes of their stay in school are met.

Conclusion

From the examination of servant leadership and a critical report of its contribution to the pastoral care of students in catholic schools, it is evident that the approach is a major contributor to the outcomes of the learners. The leaders’ characters play an important role in shaping the interactions within the school community and motivating the students to be better. The relationships created in schools, the culture that the leader cultivates, and the overall goodwill of all the stakeholders in a school make major contributions to ensuring the holistic growth of the students in the school. Therefore, Catholic schools and other Christian-based schools have been challenged to try servant leadership to create an ideal environment of the students’ pastoral care as a desired outcome. In conclusion, servant leadership is a lifestyle and not an occasional character. Therefore, leaders who approach leadership using this school of thought should be prepared to uphold the good traits described in this report in their all-round life.

References

Black, G. L. (2010). Correlational Analysis of Servant Leadership and School Climate. A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 13(4), 437-466.

Catindig, R. G., & Bueno, D. C. (2019). Qualities of Servant Leaders among Catholic Schools: A Cross-sectional Analysis. 19th CEBU – Philippines Int’l Conference on Economics, Education, Humanities & Social Sciences (CEEHSS-19) (pp. 29-30). Cebu, Philippines: Columban College, Inc.

Focht, A., & Ponton, M. (2015). IDENTIFYING PRIMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF SERVANT LEADERSHIP: DELPHI STUDY. International Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 9 Iss. 1, 44-61.

Jones, P. R. (2018). Critical Analysis of Robert K. Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. International Journal of Language and Literature Vol. 6, No. 1, 10-15.

Machokoto, W. (2019). The Existence of Servant Leadership: Evidence from Modern Church Organisations. International Journal of Psychology and Cognitive Science 2019; 5(2), 109-115.

Ollerenshaw, A., & McDonald, J. (2014). Dimensions of Pastoral Care: Student Wellbeing in Rural Catholic Schools. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 1-26.

Spears, L. C. (2010). Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, Vol. 1 Iss. 1, 25-30.

Spencer, E., & Lucas, B. (2019). Christian Leadership in Schools: An initial review of evidence and current practices Full Report. London: The National Society.

Striepe, M., & O’Donoghue, T. ( 2014). Servant Leadership in a Catholic School: A Study in the Western Australian Context. An International Journal of Education Research and Perspectives Volume 41, 130-153.

tsc.edu.au. (2020, August 1). Is Pastoral care important in schools? Retrieved August 22, 2020, from The Scots College: https://www.tsc.nsw.edu.au/tscnews/is-pastoral-care-at-schools-important