The influence of life experience on leadership practices: A case study of Indonesian school principals
The purpose of this research study was to explore how individuals’ life-stories impact on their leadership development and affect their educational leadership practices. The context for the study is the Nusa Tenggara Timur Province of Indonesia, where the overall educational achievement statistics rank very low compared to other provinces. There is currently a lack of appropriate educational policy or strategy in this province to enhance academic results. Previous research has identified that the quality of leadership may have an impact on school effectiveness and student outcomes, particularly the leadership of the school principals. Thus, this current research focuses on leadership practices of school principals. This qualitative study employed a case study design and semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used. Data were collected from six school principals from the highest achieving schools in Nusa Tenggara Timur Province, Indonesia and analysed used thematic analysis. Four factors identified from principals’ life experience that appeared to influence leadership practices were: childhood experiences; previous leadership experiences; learning from role models; and values. This study highlights the impact on life experiences on leadership practices such as setting goals and strategies, ensuring the quality of teaching, supporting teachers’ professional development, and creating healthy and safe environments. This study contributes to the existing literature regarding school principal leadership practices, and also makes recommendations to the Nusa Tenggara Timur Province government on the selection processes for educational leaders.