Leadership Style, Leader–Follower Congruence, & the Implementation of a Cultural Proficiency Initiative

Author/Creator ORCID






Organizational Leadership

Citation of Original Publication


Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States


Principals play a critical role in addressing the institutional inequities that prevent students from fully accessing the benefits of public education. School leaders must work in concert with their staff to transform their school into inclusive environments where the social, emotional, and academic needs of all children are met. This case study on the phenomenon of leader–follower congruence examined the leadership style (LS) and culturally proficient leadership style (CP LS) of 11 principals in Pre K–12 settings and their staff in a large mid–Atlantic school district. The study took place at the end of the first year of implementation of a school–based cultural proficiency (CP) initiative. The study’s purpose was to determine principal–staff perceptual congruence of LS and CP LS; principal and staff questionnaires were used to collect data. The questions explored were: How does a principal’s LS influence his or her staff’s perception of the implementation of a school–based CP initiative? How is the principal’s leadership style perceived by themself and their staff? How does the principal’s leadership style influence the implementation of a CP school district initiative? What influence does leadership style have on a principal’s ability to implement a CP initiative in a manner that engages and supports staff? A conceptual framework was used to guide the study and answer these questions. Overall, findings show that principals’ perception of their LS is incongruent with staff perception across all leadership factors. Principals were viewed as leaders of the CP initiative by the majority of their staff in schools where principal–staff perceptual congruence of transformational LS and CP LS was high. The study informs: (1) leader–follower descriptions and perceptual congruence of LS; (2) the principal’s implementation of a CP initiative; and (3) the influence of transformational LS on staff perception of their principal’s leadership of a CP initiative. This study illuminates the importance of principals’ awareness of their LS and its influence on staff in their efforts to create inclusive schools for all students.