What Makes School Leaders Inspirational and How Does This Relate to Mentoring?


Leadership comes in many forms (such as transactional, transformational,anddistributed) and its effectiveness can inspire others to achieve organisational goals and visions.Inspiration as an emotional event requires receptiveness and an awareness of social interdependence. When mentees are inspired by mentor role models they can extend personal attributes and practices.Similar to other leaders, inspiring mentors can motivate mentees to develop a strength of character and achieve goals in the workplace.What makes school leaders inspirational and how does this relate to mentoring? This qualitative study collects data from 25 experienced teachers, which involved a written questionnaire, work samples, and audio-recorded focus group discussions. These participants indicated that inspirational school leaders were those who had: 1) organisational goals (e.g., visionary, goal driven, innovative, & motivational); 2) professional skills such as being knowledgeable, communicative, and acknowledging others’ achievements; and 3) personal attributes (e.g., integrity, active listening, respectful, enthusiastic, & approachable). This research shows how mentors and school leaders can consider the inspirational attributes and practices outlined by participants in this study to inspire teaching staff. For example, an awareness of attentive listening, motivational and visionary practices, and acknowledging individual achievements can guide school leaders and mentors to inspire others for achieving organsational goals and visions.

Share and Cite:

Hudson, P. (2013). What Makes School Leaders Inspirational and How Does This Relate to Mentoring?. Open Journal of Leadership, 2, 87-94. doi: 10.4236/ojl.2013.24014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Altheide, D. L., & Johnson, J. M. (2011). Reflections on interpretive adequacy in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (pp. 581-594). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
[2] Avalos, B. (2011). Teacher professional development in Teaching and Teacher Education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 10-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2010.08.007
[3] Avolio, B. J., & Bass, B. M. (2002). Developing potential across a full range of leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[4] Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1997). Full range leadership development: Manual for the multifactor leadership questionnaire. Palo Alto, CA: Mindgarden.
[5] Beutel, D., & Spooner-Lane, R. (2009). Building mentoring capabilities in experienced teachers. The International Journal of Learning, 16, 351-360.
[6] Boseman, G. (2008). Effective leadership in a changing world. Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 62, 36-38.
[7] Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper Torchbooks.
[8] Bush, T. (2003). Theories of educational leadership and management (3rd ed.). London: SAGE Publications.
[9] Charmaz, K. (2011). Grounded theory methods in social justice research. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (pp. 359-380). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
[10] Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
[11] Dean, D. (2007). Thinking globally: The national college of school leadership: A case study in distributed leadership development. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 2, 1-62.
[12] Dimmock, C. (2012). Leadership, capacity building and school improvement: Concepts, themes and impact. Abingdon: Routledge.
[13] Geijsel, F., Sleegers, P., Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (2003). Transformational leadership effects on teacher’s commitment and effort toward school reform. Journal of Educational Administration, 41, 228-256. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09578230310474403
[14] Giebelhaus, C. R., & Bowman, C. (2000). Teaching mentors: Is it worth the effort? Orlando, FL: The Annual Meeting of the Association of Teacher Educators.
[15] Gronn, P., & Hamilton, A. (2004). A bit more life in the leadership: Co-principalship as distributed leadership practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 3, 3-35.
[16] Gronn, P. (2002). Distributed leadership. In K. Leithwood, P. Hallinger, K. Seashore-Louis, G. Furman-Brown, P. Gronn, W. Mulford, & K. Riley (Eds.), Second international handbook of educational leadership and administration (pp. 653-696). Dordrecht: Kluwer.
[17] Harris, A. (2004). Distributed leadership and school improvement— Leading or misleading? Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 32, 11-24.
[18] Harris, A., & Chapman, C. (2002). Democratic leadership for school improvement in challenging contexts. Copenhagen: The International Congress on School Effectiveness and Improvement Conference.
[19] Hart, T. (1998). Inspiration: Exploring the experience and its meaning. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 38, 7-35.
[20] Hobson, A. J., Ashby, P., Malderez, A., & Tomlinson, P. D. (2009). Mentoring beginning teachers: What we know and what we don’t. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 207-216.
[21] Hudson, P. (2006). The status of mentoring primary science teaching in Australia. In Haigh, M., Beddoe, E., & Rose, D. (Eds.), Towards excellence in PEPE: A collaborative endeavour: Proceedings of the Practical Experiences in Professional Education Conference. Auckland, NZ: University of Auckland.
[22] Hudson, P. (2010). Mentors report on their own mentoring practices. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35, 30-42.
[23] Hudson, P., English, L., Dawes, L., & Macri, J. (2012). Contextualising university-school STEM education collaboration: Distributed and self-activated leadership for project outcomes. Educational Management, Administration, and Leadership, 40, 770-783.
[24] Hudson, P., & Hudson, S. (2011). Distributed leadership and professional learning communities. Australian Journal of University Community Engagement, 6, 1-17.
[25] Hudson, P., & McRobbie, C. (2004). Evaluating a specific mentoring intervention for preservice teachers of primary science. Action in Teacher Education, 17, 7-35.
[26] John, K. (2008). Sustaining the leaders of children’s centres: The role of leadership mentoring. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 16, 53-66.
[27] Karkkainen, M. (2000). Teams as network builders: Analysing network contacts in Finnish elementary school teacher teams. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 44, 371-391.
[28] Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
[29] Kunich, J. C., & Lester, R. I. (1999). Leadership and the art of mentoring: Tool kit for the time machine. Journal of Leadership, 1-2, 117-127. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/au-24/kunich.pdf
[30] Lockwood, P., Jordan, C.H., & Kunda, Z. (2002). Motivation by positive and negative role models: Regulatory focus determines who will best inspire us. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 83, 854-864. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.83.4.854
[31] Moberg, D. J. (2008). Mentoring for protege character development. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 16, 91-103.
[32] Pont B., Nushe, D., & Moorman, H. (2008). Improving school leadership, volume 1: Policy and practice. Paris: OECD.
[33] Rippon, J. H., & Martin, M. (2006). What makes a good induction supporter? Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, 84-99.
[34] Ritchie, S. M., & Hudson, P. (2009). Science teacher leadership for transforming the curriculum and classroom practice. In S. M. Ritchie (Ed.), The world of science education: Handbook of research in Australasia (pp. 273-283). Rotterdam: Sensepublishers.
[35] Scandura, T. A., & Williams, E. A. (2004). Mentoring and transformational leadership: The role of supervisory career mentoring. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65, 448-468.
[36] Shoaf, M., & Britt, M. M. (2009). Leadership and mentoring: How different are they? Proceedings of ASBBS Conference, 16, 4.
[37] Simmons, S. R. (2007). “Amazing Grace”: A memoir of mentoring. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 36, 1-5.
[38] Spillane, J., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2001). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Educational Researcher, 30, 23-28.
[39] Trottier, T., Van Wart, M., & Wang, X. H. (2008). Examining the nature and significance of leadership in government organizations. Public Administration Review, 68, 319-333.
[40] Vaughan, G. M., & Hogg, M. A. (2011). Social psychology (6th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.
[41] Yukl, G. A. (2006). Leadership in organisations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
[42] Zachary, L. (2009). Examining and expanding mentoring practice. Adult Learning, 1, 43-45.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.