The Perceptions of Elementary Principals on Promoting Positive Staff Morale
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentHood College Department of Organizational Leadership
ProgramDoctorate of Organizational Leadership
Elementary principals influence organizational behavior and school climate through their actions and behaviors. The leader’s style can have a lasting impact on staff morale. Employee morale refers to an employee's sense of psychological safety, purpose, and confidence in the future. Research has shown that school leaders influence staff morale and positive school climate through their interactions with the people in the organization and their decision-making processes. This qualitative phenomenological study extrapolated the lived experiences of elementary principals who had maintained or accomplished a positive school climate over time. This study was designed to answer the following questions: (1) What are the elementary principals’ perceptions of the actions a leader takes to promote positive staff morale? and (2) What critical life experiences do elementary principals believe impacted their leadership actions that improved staff morale? A phenomenological approach using interviews, surveys, and focus groups was used to understand the essence of the lived experiences and perceptions of elementary school principals in relation to how they have maintained or promoted a positive staff morale and school climate over time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data were collected virtually. The criterion sample consisted of 33 elementary school principals who had been identified as having a positive school climate by a district survey. In all data collection sources, principals consistently referenced actions they took to promote a positive staff morale that centered around common ideals and concepts. The following six themes emerged from triangulation of the data: (a) Serve them, relate to them, (b) Collaborate and engage, (c) Be authentic; (d) Be visible and accessible; (e) Learn the school culture; and (f) Embrace your lived experiences. The lived experiences of the elementary school principals in this study served as a resource to help other school leaders take similar actions to promote a positive staff morale.