Influence of secondary school principals' leadership styles on students' performance in Kenya certificate of secondary education in Gatundu North sub county, Kenya
This research study aimed at investigating the influence of principals’ leadership styles on students’ performance in KCSE in Gatundu North Sub-County, Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to establish the extent to which principals’ democratic leadership styles influence students’ performance, principals’ autocratic leadership styles on students’ performance, principals’ laissez faire leadership styles and principals’ transformational leadership styles on students’ performance in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in Gatundu North sub County, Kenya and to recommend areas for improvement in future. This study was anchored on the Contingency Theory of Leadership, developed by Fiedler (1964) cited in (Cole, 2002). The study was conducted using the descriptive survey design. The target population consisted of the20 public secondary schools, 500 teachers and 4583 students who had information on the influence of principals’ leadership styles on students’ KCSE performance. Principals (6), teachers (45) and students (412) were the sample size of the target respondents for this study. Research instruments used to collect data were questionnaires for teachers and students and an interview schedule for principals. The researcher used the test retest method to enhance instrument reliability. The study yielded data that required both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS computer programme version 17.0 and qualitative data manually. Presentation was done using frequency distribution tables with values and percentages. From the findings of the study, it was established that democratic leadership style has a great influence on students’ performance in public secondary schools. Hence, need for principals to use a democratic style besides transformational where performance should be positively guided and constructive and not punitive. Principals should allow students to conduct their own group discussions (55.0%). In addition, students should not be denied to hold frequent barazas with the principal (56.7%). Besides, most principals (89.3%) were noted not involving teachers, parents and students when making key decisions. Never the less, some principals were not open to criticism by staff members (45.0%). Others rarely accepted that they can make errors just like anybody else (52.5%). The study concludes that principals’ democratic leadership styles had a high response which is a good indicator that if applied well could have quality results than autocratic leadership styles. The researcher recommends that principals and teachers should avoid autocratic leadership style when implementing performance and even disciplinary procedures and policies which have to be primarily preventive, secondarily corrective and never retributive. Basing on areas for further research, the study recommends a replica of the study to be performed in other public secondary schools in other sub counties in Kenya to provide comparison in findings and that an assessment be done on the relationship between students’ performance and discipline in public secondary schools in Kenya in order to establish whether there was any kind of relationship between students’ discipline and performance.