Managing one's own and others' emotions to improve leadership



School principals must show effective leadership in order to induce their staff to improve their teaching practices, which has a direct impact on students' educational success.

The more principals express joy or satisfaction and encourage staff to do the same, the more they feel that they show good leadership.

Emmanuel Poirel, a researcher in education sciences at Université de Montréal, evaluated the relationship between three emotions – anger, anxiety and joy – and the demonstration of leader-ship by school principals.

He measured these emotions based on responses to a questionnaire on emotional competencies completed by almost 250 Québec school principals and 680 of their staff members. Principals were asked to self-assess their ability to manage different emotions, to express them adequately to their staff and to be aware of their staff's emotions. In turn, staff members were asked to as-sess their principal based on these same abilities.

The results show a significant link between a principal's capacity to cope with anxiety and to rec-ognize anxiety in others and help them cope with it, and the demonstration of leadership. Similar-ly, the more principals express joy or satisfaction and encourage staff to do the same, the more they feel that they show good leadership. However, no similar link was found between anger and leadership.

These results have been presented in schools in Québec and Europe. This research identifies areas school principals could work on to improve their leadership and help their staff while in-creasing their influence, to effect change in teaching practices.