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Principals' leadership style and school climate: teachers' perspectives from Malaysia

Adel Tajasom (School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Penang, Malaysia)
Zainal Ariffin Ahmad (College of Graduate Studies, Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Selangor, Malaysia)

International Journal of Leadership in Public Services

ISSN: 1747-9886

Article publication date: 16 November 2011



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between secondary school teachers' perception of principal leadership style (specifically transformational and transactional leadership styles) and school climate.


The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire was used to assess the transformational and transactional leadership styles of principals. Climate data were obtained using the School Level Environment Questionnaire. The theoretical framework of this study is derived from Theory of Leadership Style. The authors surveyed 141 teachers from 17 urban secondary schools in northern Malaysia.


It was found that transformational leadership has an effect on four aspects of school climate (affiliation, innovation, professional interest, and resource adequacy) whereas transactional leadership only effects participatory decision making.

Research limitations/implications

Whereas school climate impacts student achievement and is an important element of effective schools, it was not the focus of this study. It is recommended to use a larger sample using teachers and administrators from multiple school districts to see if similar findings would occur.

Practical implications

Educational leaders must realize the impact of principal leadership behaviour on teachers and students in their journey to improvement and create a school climate that is conducive for students to achieve at expected levels.

Social implications

There is currently increased pressure at national, state, and local levels for all students to perform at superior standards. Both teachers and school principals are under increasing demands to improve their school's climate.


This study offers school boards and superintendents some insight into how the principal's leadership style may enhance the school climate.



Tajasom, A. and Ariffin Ahmad, Z. (2011), "Principals' leadership style and school climate: teachers' perspectives from Malaysia", International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 314-333.



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