In this paper, the authors argue that the link between expectations, health and well-being is a fundamental and often forgotten perspective in school leadership. The principals’ work situations contain many possibilities that may evoke unclear, or negative outcome expectations, which may trigger the physiological stress response and associated feelings of stress and discomfort. These expectations are companioned with signs of an imbalance between personal resources and the challenges faced, preventing the principals from achieving their full potential for both their own benefit and that of the organization. A contributing factor to the orchestration of the principals’ stressful expectations is the introduction of more layers of leadership. This has led to a clash between different forms of accountability; distrust and uncertainty about what mandate, responsibility and accountability the principals have in their schools and, in the process, created a feeling of inadequacy among the principals.
The study is based on nine group interviews conducted in three cities. It seems like a healthy and well-functioning balance between different external expectations, challenges, resources, trust, control and different forms of accountability are health-promoting factors. Well-being will certainly be an important factor in recruiting new principals in the near future.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
AFA Försäkring. (2016). Allvarliga arbetsskador och långvarig sjukfrånvaro - 2016. [Serious work injuries and long term sick leave, in Swedish]. Retrieved from https://www.afaforsakring.se/globalassets/forebyggande/analys-och-statistik/arbetsskaderapporten/arbetsskaderapport_2016.pdf.
Arbetsmiljöverket. (2011). Rektorers arbetsmiljö. En tillsynsinsats genomförd av Arbetsmiljöverket (AV), disktriktet Göteborg under 2009 och 2010.[Principals’ work environment. An oversight carried out by The Swedish Work Environment Authority, the district of Gothenburg in 2009 and 2010, in Swedish].
Ärlestig, H., Johansson, O., & Nihlfors, E. (2016). International school principal research. In H. Ärlestig, C. Day, & O. Johansson (Eds.), A decade of research on school principals. Studies in educational leadership (Vol. 21). Springer.
Blumberg, M., & Pringle, C. (1982). The missing opportunity in organizational research: some implications for a theory of work performance. The Academy of Management Review, 7(4), 560–569.
Bringselius, L. (2017). Tillitsbaserad styrning och ledning: ett ramverk. [Trust-based governance and management: a framework, in Swedish] Rapport nr 02 i Tillitsdelegationens rapportserie. Stockholm: Finansdepartementet.
Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Buss, D. M. (1991). Evolutionary Personality Psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 42, 459–491.
Chrousos, G. P. (2009). Stress and disorders of the stress system. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 5(7), 374–381.
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Durkheim, E. (1895). The rules of Sociological Method and Selected Texts on Sociology and it’s Method. New York: Free Press.
Elmore, R. (2005). Accountable leadership. The Educational Forum, 69(2), 134–142.
Forsyth, P. B., Adams, C. M., & Hoy, W. K. (2011). Collective trust: why schools can’t improve without it. New York: Teachers College Press.
Hoy, W. (2012). School characteristics that make a difference for the achievement of all students. Journal of Educational Administration, 50(1), 76–97. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578231211196078.
Jakhelln, H. & Møller, J. (2016). Retten i skolen – styring og sikring.[The Law in the School – governance, in Norwegian] Andenæs, K. & Møller, J. (Eds.) Retten i skolen – mellom pedagogikk, juss och politikk.[The law in School – between pedagogy, law and politics, in Norwegian] Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
Jarl, M., Fredriksson, A., & Persson, S. (2012). New public management in public education: a catalyst for the professionalization of Swedish school principals. Public Administration, 90(2), 429–444.
Kloep, M., Hendry, L., & Saunders, D. (2009). A new perspective on human development. Conference of the International Journal of Arts and Scences, 1(6), 332–343.
Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion: A new synthesis. London: Springer Publishing Company.
Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2019). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership revisited. School Leadership & Management, 1–18.
Leo, U. (2015). Professional norms guiding school principals’ pedagogical leadership. Journal of Educational Management., 29. Issue 6. Emerald.
Leo, U. (2016). Rättslig reglering och professionella normer som påverkar rektorers ledarskap [Legal regulation and professional norms that affect the leadership of the principals, in Swedish]. In Andenæs, K. & Møller, J. (Eds.) Retten i skolen – mellom pedagogikk, juss och politikk. [The law in School – between pedagogy, law and politics, in Norwegian] Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
McEwen, B. S. (2012). Brain on stress: How the social environment gets under the skin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(17), 180–17,185.
Møller, J. (2009). School leadership in an age of accountability: tensions between managerial and professional accountability. Journal of Educational Change, 10(2), 37–46.
Moos, L., Skedsmo, G., Hoog, J., Olofsson, A., & Johnson, L. (2011). The Hurricane of accountabilities? In L. Moos, O. Johansson, & C. Day (Eds.), How school principals sustain success over time: 199 international perspectives, studies in educational leadership (Vol. 14). Springer Science, Business Media B.V.. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-1335-2_12.
Nihlfors, E. & Johansson, O. (2013). Rektor – en stark länk i styrningen av skolan. [The principal - a strong link in the governance of the school.] Stockholm: SNS förlag.
Nilsson, K. (2016). Conceptualisation of ageing in relation to factors of importance for extending working life - a review. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 44(5), 490–505. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494816636265.
OECD. (2019). TALIS 2018 results (Volume I): Teachers and school leaders as lifelong learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/1d0bc92a-en.
Persson, R., Leo, U., Arvidsson, I., Håkansson, C., Nilsson, K. & Österberg, K. (submitted 2020). School leaders’ subjective health, work engagement and workability: a nationwide cross-sectional survey in Sweden.
Pont, B., Nusche, D., & Moorman, H. (2008). Improving school leadership. Volume 1: Policy and practice. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Rommetveit, R. (1955). Social norms and roles, explorations in the psychology of ending social pressures. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press Sandberg.
Skedsmo, G. (2009). School governing in transition? Perspectives, purposes and perceptions of evaluation policy (Doctoral Thesis, University of Oslo, Oslo).
Skolverket [National Agency for Education, in Swedish]. (2019). TALIS 2018: en studie om lärares och rektorers arbete i grund- och gymnasieskolan Delrapport 1. [A study on the work of teachers and principals in primary and secondary school Sub-report 1, in Swedish]. Stockholm: Skolverket. Tillgänglig på Internet: https://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=4307
SOU 2015:22. (2015). Utredningen om rektorernas arbetssituation inom skolväsendet (2015). Rektorn och styrkedjan. [The report on the principals’ work situation in the school system. The principal and the governance chain, in Swedish.] Stockholm: Fritzes,
Swedish Code of Statutes. (2010). [Education Act, in Swedish] (2010:800), Stockholm.
Tschannen-Moran, M. (2014). Trust matters. San Fransisco: Jossey Bass.
Ursin, H., & Eriksen, H. R. (2004). The cognitive activation theory of stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29(5), 567–592. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15041082.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2020 The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Leo, U., Persson, R., Arvidsson, I., Håkansson, C. (2020). External Expectations and Well-Being, Fundamental and Forgotten Perspectives in School Leadership: A Study on New Leadership Roles, Trust and Accountability. In: Moos, L., Nihlfors, E., Paulsen, J.M. (eds) Re-centering the Critical Potential of Nordic School Leadership Research. Educational Governance Research, vol 14. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-55027-1_12
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-030-55026-4
Online ISBN: 978-3-030-55027-1