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A Correlation of Participatory Leadership, Transformational Leadership Theory, and Personal Leadersh

This comparative analysis announces the principle of democratic and participatory leadership through an educational context. “Democratic leadership is a shared, collaborative leadership style directed by a transformational educational leader who leads for and leads with her/his employees (Williams, 2016).” Democratic Leaders allow for everyone to be privy to information and contribute to decision making. Such leadership methodology and its participatory characteristics allow for high follower engagement and satisfaction. This style supports a form of the Transformational Leadership Theory in its ability to engage the typically silenced follower. For the remainder of this document, this leadership style will be referred to as Participatory Leadership. This document will outline correlations and present validation through findings and biblical citations.

Case Studies

Hattie L. Hammonds’ dissertation entitled Early college high school principals as democratic, socially just, culturally responsive leaders, identifies 3 subsets of Participatory Leadership and the characteristics and interests of each subset. Hammonds’ dissertation analyzes 3 case studies in which principals govern and embody their institution and role to promote effectiveness towards inclusion of low-income students, students of color and students with disabilities in institutional success. Hammonds explains “Research shows that principals are responsible for creating a school’s culture and climate, which can positively or negatively impact a school’s effectiveness (Hammonds, 2015).” Each principal demonstrated a different set of Participatory Leadership qualities to gain effectiveness in their interests.

Principal Joan Robinson of Institution A

The first Case study examines Principal Joan Robinson of Institution A. Principal Robinson demonstrated qualities of being a Relator and being Strategic. Robinson “emphasized that she targeted the population early college high schools were designed for, especially first generation students, because funding for the school was tied to her school enrolling at least 80% first generation students (Hammonds, 2015).” Robinson strategically secured the population that ensured fiscal sustainability. When engaging with the student body as a relator, “the way that Principal Robinson related to students that came from a different racial background than her own was to help students understand that everyone deserved respect regardless of their race or gender (Hammonds, 2015).” Robinson’s focus and interests were on academic success, achievement and recognition. She sought her focus by being strategic and exercising an ability to relate to her students. Despite her strategic efforts and practiced relatability, Robinson proved to be inefficient as a culturally responsive leader. Principal Robinson lacked Futuristic thought processes. In response to a rigorous application process that presented a barrier to low income and students of colors, Robinson seemed to struggle with answering the researcher’s questions about future plans she had to address this situation at her school. Instead, she seemed content with the students her school targeted and enrolled even if this meant her school did not serve the three groups early college high schools were intended to help (Hammonds, 2015).”

Robinson’s demonstration of Participatory Leadership can be explained as “demonstrated democratic leadership, but minimal socially just or culturally responsive leadership. Instead of encouraging students and staff to be individuals, she worked to assimilate them using “community norms” (Hammonds, 2015).” If Robinson had devised a solution to facilitate equity ensuring low income and students of color opportunity which allowed access to Institution A, she would have demonstrated the socially just and culturally responsive subsets. In her negligence to such response Robinson still demonstrated a large amount of legitimacy within her leadership style. The concept of legitimacy can be explained “as the “reservoir of loyalty” on which leaders can rely or the attitudes that make subjects willingly bear the burdens of societal membership (Simmons, 2001).”

Principal Karen Lewis of Institution B

Case Study 2 examines Principal Karen Lewis of Institution B. Principal Lewis demonstrated qualities of being Strategic, an Activator and having Command. “Principal Lewis is an example of a democratic, socially just, culturally responsive leader that comes up with innovative solutions to provide access and opportunities for students to gain the knowledge they will need to be successful. She does not allow the school’s rural, impoverished location dictate the school’s or student’s success (Hammonds, 2015).” Lewis is strategic in her efforts of devising tailored solutions to navigate barriers. Lewis activates such solutions embodying Command and authority in that the presented barriers will not be effective deterrents. As a Participatory Leader Lewis operates as the culturally responsive and socially just leader. As a woman of color leading a student body of color Lewis exhibits Accountability. “When she spoke with students about code-switching, she did not do this because she sought to change who they were or assimilate them. Since she considers the students to be like her own children she spoke with them like a mother correcting her child (Hammonds, 2015).” Lewis felt accountable to the students who shared similar cultural travesties and hardships of her adolescence.

Principal James Washington of Institution C

The final case study, Case Study 3 examines Principal James Washington of Institution C. Principal Washington displayed qualities of an Activator, a Relator and of having Futuristic thought processes. “Principal Washington lived and worked during segregation in the Deep South and has taken numerous risks to provide equitable opportunities for his students and others in the community. His desire to see all students be successful and obtain a first-rate education is what led him to help write the grant that started School C (Hammonds, 2015).” As a Relator “Washington’s early childhood experiences growing up in a low-income, single mother home helps him be emphatic with students that are in similar situations (Hammonds, 2015.)” As an Activator “Principal Washington is an example of a democratic, socially just, culturally responsive leader that valued providing access, having high expectations and giving students opportunities to participate over achievement, exclusionary practices and test scores. The school’s location and lack of resources nor student’s challenging circumstances do not dictate future successes (Hammonds, 2015).” Principal Washington’s actions indicated most overt practices of Participatory Leadership. “School C parents shared that Principal Washington had created the type of environment where parents “feel free to contact him, discuss issues and he would address them.” One parent admitted that the principal may not handle a situation “the way that I would have liked to have had him address [it], but at least he made the effort.” (Hammonds, 2015).”

Identified Leadership Themes through Assessment

Jessica Cohen defines leadership as a fluent practice personal to environment, resources, and goals. Cohen has an athletic background and was a student athlete throughout her college education. Cohen’s background contributes heavily to her approach to leadership. She is able to demonstrate and decipher the necessary qualities needed to mobilize a group similar to both Principal Lewis and Principal Washington’s ability to be culturally responsive. Cohen’s preference and skillset derive from her experience in achieving outcomes through the team setting thus her style exemplifies Participatory Leadership.

The CliftonStrengths assessment analyzes, through a series of timed questions, how the participant thinks, feels and behaves. Knowledge of such analysis has proven to increase productivity, engagement and wellness. Completion of the CliftonStrengths Assessment revealed that Cohen’s top 5 themes were Strategic, Activator, Command, Futuristic and Relator.


“People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues (Rath, 2007)” Described as “innovative, inventive, original and resourceful, (Rath, 2007)” possessing this theme allows Cohen to navigate barriers the way Principal Lewis did in creating solutions to promote student success.


“People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action (Rath, 2007)” It is explained that Cohen has the ability to “inspire others to start projects and launch initiatives as a result of this perspective (Rath, 2007)” and that Cohen can “generate enthusiasm so people become as eager as (she is) to transform an idea into something tangible (Rath, 2007)”. (She is) energized, not paralyzed, by opportunities and possibilities (Rath, 2007),” and operates by “the premise that it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission (Rath, 2007).” This same motif can be found in Principal Washington’s grit to take risks to provide equitable opportunities.


“People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions (Rath, 2007).” “(They) refuse to be stifled by traditions or trapped by routines. (They) probably bristle when someone says, “We can’t change that. We’ve always done it this way (Rath, 2007).” If Principal Lewis decided to not intervene on her students' colloquialisms, she would dishonor the accountability she felt to best prepare them. Thus, she demonstrated her command and interjected.


“People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future (Rath, 2007).” “Driven by their talents, they invest considerable time creating the future of their own choosing (Rath, 2007).” Principal Robinson used her skillset to create a future of high academic success, recognition and progress. Though she lacked futuristic thought processes toward socially just and culturally responsive practices, she honed her skillset to achieve her interests.


“People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others (Rath, 2007).” Each Principal demonstrated this ability as this is a leverage skillset for Participatory Leaders. “They sometimes aid people by sharing their point of view (Rath, 2007).” This specific facet of being a Relator was exhibited by the Principals of color, Principal Lewis and Principal Washington.

Biblical Instances of Transformational Leadership

Participatory Leadership has been explored in this document through the Educational Industry of 3 Early College Institutions. The 3 subsets identified by Hammonds are Democratic Leader, Socially Just Leader and Culturally responsive leader. This leadership style promotes the Transformational Leadership Theory. The Transformational Leadership Theory is “defined as leadership that involves inspiring followers to commit to a shared vision and goals for an organization, by challenging them to be innovative and developing their own leadership capacity through coaching, mentoring, and provision of both challenge and support (Bass & Riggio, 2006).” A contemporary approach to the Transformational Leadership Theory is the coaching discipline. The coaching discipline can be described as “a human development process that involves structured, focused interaction and the use of appropriate strategies, tools and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the client and potentially for other stakeholders (Myers & Bachkirova, 2018).”

The most significant documented Coach using this discipline is Jesus in the Bible. Jesus displayed the same 5 strengths identified in Cohen’s assessment and support the similar motif of the leadership practices by the principals in each case study. Jesus was Strategic, an Activator, had Command, Futuristic thought processes and was a Relator. For the subsequent analysis, I will reference the New International Version of the Holy Bible

Jesus as a Strategist

As Jesus recruited his first disciples, he demonstrated strategy to ensure effectiveness. He called 4 fishermen who already possessed the ability to capture. “Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people (Mark 1:17, New International Version).” The 4 called were skilled fishermen and were able to translate that skill to capture a different subject. The 4 called also knew each other. This strategy promotes unity and allows for a stable core before diversifying and expanding the team. As the team was newly formed and had an immediate calling this practice was most efficient and allowed for immediate impact

Jesus as an Activator

Being an Activator is the most important quality of the Transformational Leadership Theory and of the Participatory Leadership style. The newly trended Coaching Discipline operates on the Coaches' ability to activate change and revelation among those coached or the followers. Jesus was an Activator, a Coach who promoted revelation through asking questions. When fine-tuning the development of his disciples he asked them questions helping them learn, improving the ministry.

Jesus has Command

Jesus expressed Command as he sought to fulfill his mission. This act is evident throughout the New Testament. Though he was a Participatory Leader he had the ability to separate from the group and be an authoritarian. His followers were amazed by his teaching style because he taught from a place of authority. Jesus commanded an impure spirit leave the man who entered the synagogue during one of his teachings. “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him ( Mark 1:25, New International Version)!” Jesus did not gather the group to contribute to next steps. He took authority, exercised Command and responded to an immediate need.

Jesus as Futuristic

In Mark 1:15 Jesus exhibits his futuristic thought processes. Jesus was a testamented prophet of God. His existence WAS a futuristic thought process and greater purpose was his life. In this verse, Jesus informs the people of Galilee that the future is here. “The time has come,” “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news( Mark 1:15. New International Version)!” Jesus was clear in his instruction to the people leading them to the future. He was both efficient and effective.

Jesus as a Relator

Jesus had the power to build relationships. He was a Relator who practiced the ability of moving diverse people into congruent actions. When building his ministry and crafting his team of disciples he recruited men of diverse backgrounds. Initially, he strategically formed a group with similarities to promote stability. Later, when he diversified, it was extreme. Jesus added a tax collector and Jewish nationalist to his team of disciples. Historically these positions conflict however Jesus as a relator successfully cultivated a relationship within the two to continue with effective practices towards the greater calling.


The Participatory Leadership Style and Transformational Leadership Theory are demonstrated by Christ Jesus. The Dissertation analyzed and its 3 case study subjects exhibit how background, environment and interests affect a leader’s position and methodology of being a democratic or participatory leader. When leading the public or within the public sector leaders must possess responsibility to who they are charged over. Jesus executed legitimacy, accountability and demonstrated strengths that supported his outlook of transforming the masses. Just as Principals of early college institutions are to transform and promote for a higher quality of life, Leaders of the public are to do the same. Tactics of complying with this practice can be explained as Cohen’s 5 identified strengths also models by Christ Jesus.

This analysis document correlates the 5 strengths identified by the ClinftonStrengths Assessment of Jessica Cohen and researched dissertation of Hattie L. Hammonds entitled Early college high school principals as democratic, socially just, culturally responsive leaders. This correlation is conveyed using the 6 pillars of Public Administration and supports the Participatory Leadership style within the Transformational Leadership Theory.

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