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Universal American School Dubai Leadership Skills Analysis

Leadership Skills in Universal American Schools Dubai

Executive Summary

The study aimed to focus on the leadership style of a private school “Universal American School, Dubai, UAE”, thisUniversal American School Dubai Leadership Skills Analysis study focus on the assessment of the school principal so that the leadership behavior and skills of the school staff can be known. Thus, it is a private school in Dubai, UAE. The case study that is developed focused on the mixed methods and the methodology approach, several leadership styles are focused to know about the school’s improvement. On order to know about the principal action and the best practices that are taken in the school so that the school performance led to the improvement factors. For the research, the MLQ questionnaires were developed so that the responses on the principal’s leadership style could be known. The focus of the research is to known about the last five years performance and measure for the school’s improvement. For the purpose of the research the interviews was conducted with the principal and the vice principal of the Dubai, UAE private school. From the observation of the facts, the data able to give insights and able to do the MLQ analysis of the principal leadership, from the analysis it is known to us that he is highly transformational, he also show the characteristics of contingent reward leadership and the instructional leader. He is focused on the distributive leadership and instructional leadership practices. He likes to hire the teacher, who are qualified and talented, thus, his efforts are to supporting and developing teachers with the help of the shared leadership. There are also the limitations in the research as there was the short time, there can be hidden views of principles, therefore, in depth, and longitudinal research is needed for the future practices.

Literature Review


There is focus on the school environment so that the student’s performances can be known that leadership of staff has helped them to give better results and performance or not. It is also known that how different types of leaderships play an effectively in the school performance especially when the principal and the team or staff is committed. The study is conducted by private Universal American School – Dubai, UAE.

The Role of Leaders in Schools

A leader is a person who plays an effective role in managing the team, leaders are important in any department  as they need to help the team with the leadership skills, with the help of leader team can be motivated for the effective performance and positive outcomes.

Studies have revealed that principal can influence on the performance of the schools and teacher.  The role of principal has a great impact on schools performance and effectiveness. A positive relation between principal or management, and teaching staff can influence students for achieving high grades. Principal of the school if have the leadership skills can make the school a better place for the student so that they could learn and encouraged.

Leadership Styles and School Improvement

The researches have find out about the leadership practices that are in the school of UAE. There can be different leadership styles that can make the team valuable to perform in the better way. Different leadership styles can be analyzed in order to facilities the students and the school, so that effective decision making can be done by the leaders and the management of the school. Leadership styles includes the laissez-faire, democratic, participative etc.

There are the research papers that focus on the school performance that if leaders take the effective decisions than there can be effective performance by the schools. The research aims to study leadership of school principle, the relationship between school effectiveness and leadership style, and effectiveness of schools. Effective internal and external procedures can help the organization to carry out the performance in an effective ways.  If the leadership practices by the principal of the school are carried out effectively than there will be great learning (Voon, 2011).

The Ministry of Dubai, UAE is focused on providing the better education to the students. School’s vision is directly related to students learning and leadership approach should help school in achieving its goals (Fadeyi et al., 2014). In addition, transformational leadership is a modern way of influencing teachers and students. This style of leadership plays an important role in developing school’s culture. Before perfecting the art of transformational leadership, leaders must have a base of transactional management skills.  A principle must lead through inspirational leadership for creating perfect balance between management and school goals. The researches focused on the era of change as with the time, there is the changing in the teaching in Dubai, UAE and the other countries, however, the positive environment is focused so that there can be the encouragement in the role of the people.

Leadership model should incorporate traits of transactional, instructional, transformational, informational, and inspirational leadership styles and it should provide positive basis to schools. According to some studies, integrated leadership approach has positive and negative effects on both students’ achievement and job satisfaction of teachers. However, some educational institutes often fail to apply a leadership. They do not focus that management and students learning problems can be solved. Researchers have attempted to figure out characteristics of an efficient school leader. A school principle must develop some leadership traits for managing school effectively. Some of these characters are ability to set goal, having a clear vision, influence and motive employees and students, open communication skills.  There are different educational leadership standards that are used to enhance students learning. These standards include ethics, assessment, equity, teachers’ professionalism, and improvement of schools. The most important leadership styles for school principle are transformational and instructional leadership. However, instructional leadership has ignored from past a few years.

The study have shown the allergic disorders in the students of Dubai, UAE, as the school there are focused on the providing the national health care programs to the students example, for the prevalence of allergic rhinitis, atopic eczema etc. so that timely investments can give better results (A.Pourghaz, H.Jenaabadi and S.Emamifar, 2016). Moreover, an instructional leader is responsible for giving instructions, improving teaching, developing curriculum, and building collaborative culture. The leader also gives vision, mission, design objectives, and encourage a learning environment. Instructional principals directly affect school’s effectiveness and students achievements. (Smith, n.d.)

The data collected from the school, focused that students are given the proper attention and that the students are focused psychologically or not, the results obtained that there is higher frequency of the parents and teachers who are developing the clinical (Ibrahim and Mahmoud, 2017). In the schools of Dubai, UAE, there is the sense of well-being and the students are focused to provide with the innovative curriculum standards. The federal emphasis is to provide women with higher education; the medical section is also acceptable in the schools (Momoh and Osagiobare, 2015).

The study is also in the problem based learning and collaborative leadership gives emphasis on employee’s empowerment, while transformational leadership focuses inspiring teachers and students to achieve their goals (Rukban, Khalil and Al-Zalabani, 2010).  Transformational leadership effects teachers’ behavior instead of instructional practices. Principal adopts new techniques and inspire teachers and students. Studies have concluded that schools can use all types of leadership depending on situation; they should not be limited to only one style of leadership. Performance of schools can be improved by choosing a right leadership style.

Influence of Principal on School’s Performance and Effectiveness

School’s performance is closely related to principal and his practices that he implements in school’s premises. Studies have concluded that transformational leadership is preferred and practiced in Dubai schools. A principal can influence teachers and students to increase performance and productivity. As discussed before, principals should not depend on only one style of leadership they should use the mix of all styles (Beycioglu, 2014).

Measures of School Success

The author claims that schools success can be determined by teachers’ performance and students’ outcome/grades. Therefore, high results show effectiveness of schools and low results show ineffectiveness of school. Effectiveness of school can depend on various items. High results can be achieved through creating positive environment, and giving motivation to employees and students. Students should be determined to learn new things. (Shanker, 2014)

Research Question

The research aims to find out the leadership role for the school improvement. This case study was conducted in order to know about the principal best practices or steps that are taken in order to do the improvement in the school and that the school succeeded in improving in 5 years.

  1. What are the leadership styles that can contribute to school’s improvement?
  2. What are best practices for school’s improvement that are used by the school principle?


The case study research method was focused through the descriptive or the explanatory question in the school. In methodology the mixed method research was used, as it is an embedded single-case study so that analysis was done in one of the private schools in Dubai, UAE.

The data gathered the information in the school through the interviews the questionnaires were filled by the faculty so that effectiveness in the school and leadership behavior can be known. There is the focus on to obtain the detailed information that plays important role in the clarifying the misunderstandings.

Consequently, the data was conducted helped in order to know about the several leadership styles that were used for effectiveness in the school performance. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was used in order to understand the leadership style. For the understanding of the principal leadership style and the other ten academic leaders, the focus was on the interviews and the questionnaires, thus, the principal and the other academic leader’s behavior and traits were focused on containing the 21 questions.

The MLQ questionnaires, was based on the transformational and transactional leadership leader, as these two the factors analyzed the behavior of principal. The questionnaire was categorized in seven factors including the questions on Contingent reward, Laissez-faire and the management-by-exception etc. thus the questionnaire were classify under the two of the factors, which includes the improvement of instructional practice. The performance data or to gather the efficient data from the administration of the school, there was the use of the multiple resources of evidence as the observation was there for the understating, different type of data collection sources were used example, from the students records, questionnaires, reports and the interviews etc.

Case Selection

The case selection was done so that the leadership styles of the principal can be able to meet a preset criterion; the analysis was done on the Universal American School – Dubai, UAE. Consequently, for that criterion purposeful sampling strategy is chosen because it is the best strategy, in order analyzed the behavior of traits of the principal and other leaders who were in the school (Amanchukwu, Stanley and Ololube, 2015).

Data Collection

In order to participate in the case study, there were the suitable meetings and activities after the deciding on the convenient time. The main interview was taken by the principal and the other leaders in the school, the academic leaders participated in the questionnaire, however, the interview was only conducted by the principal and the vice principal of Universal American School – Dubai, UAE school (Scouller, 2011). The interview was digitally recorded as a proof so that the performance and to focus on the leadership style of the leaders. The MLQ questionnaire was electronically administered so that exact data can be focus; it was through using the online website.

Case Background

The School

The Universal American School in Dubai is a private school and has a competitive position in the country, thus, the school follows the American-based curriculum so that the students can get the effective learning. The school also provides or focused on the Diploma Program in the country, the education is given from the grade 1 through grade 12. (UAS) was founded in the 1963 and the school has the license of the Dubai, UAEn Ministry of Education because there is large number of the students in the school. In the start of school, there were very few students but the numbers of students have increased with the time because of the continuous effort of the administration and the leaders of the school.

School Performance

The principal and vice principal of the school is committed to provide the good quality of education; the school is focused on continuously improving because school have good reputation in different cities of Dubai, UAE. There are focus on the personal development and the social responsibility of the students, teachers are making student able to perform in the better way so that they could able to compete in the world, as there are learning and assessment of the students.

The Principal

Mr. Andrew Torris is the principal of the Universal American School; he is serving in the school for several years and known for his best management in the school. Other senior management includes the Beverly Kempley, who is the middle school assistant principal.


Qualitative and quantitative data was focused for the analysis and to carry out the research, the study methodologies based on the best practices for the school improvement in order to know about the leadership style of the principal of the school. The leadership role was focused on the school improvement so that the transformational and transactional leadership style can be known. The factors were analyzed to know about the behavior of principal. The leadership style of the principal and the other ten academic leaders is focused on the informal interviews and the MLQ response. The triangulation was used to validate results and the results were focused in order to ensure the reliability.


Regarding focused on the ethics and the filling of the questionnaire; the research has focused on the ethical issues as the participants were concerned and asked to do the sign before conducting the interviews and questionnaires in order to access the leadership behavior. Moreover, with the consent form states the permission was taken, for the participation in the interviews. The questionnaires were voluntary based that also ensured to be anonymous. Concerning the ethics the permission was also taken from administer and the principal of the Universal American School.


School improvement

The finding have focused on the result that we get from the school that how the principal of the school and other leaders are performing, there is the focus on the leadership style and attitude of the teacher. It is known that Universal American School has the clear vision and plan for the teaching and learning standards. The research has to know about the last five years performance and measure for the school’s improvement. The principles, form last five years have shown the improvement as the results of the students in the school have improved and the vice principal of the Dubai, UAE focus on the every year improvement report. Through the last inspection report, the results we get tell that there is the attainment of the progress and the results have improved in the principal’s administration because the leadership of the teachers is determined.

Focused on the performance of the 2015-2016, the students have improved in the learning skills as the teaching and assessment gave the good performance. In the Elementary phase, the school is able to meet the individual needs. The school is able to focus on the indicators that were discussed in the curriculum, thus, in (UAS) the mentioned goals are by the management and the principal of the school.

  • The first indicator was to “to make students able to think creatively” the students are making able to think differently than the other students.
  • Second inspection indicator was “developing alternative solutions to real world problem” so that students can find out the solutions of the problems.
  • The third indicator “each student will communicate effectively” there are the efforts to make student able so that they could speak confidently in the world.
  • The fourth indicator was “students do meaningful action in creating the inclusive, sustainable and peaceful world”.

(UAS) stay focused on the indictor’s goals and the effective performance in 2015-2016.

Principal Leadership Style

Through focused on the MLQ responses, the academic leaders gave the best results, as the inspirational motivation was on the high score, and improvement of instructional practice was on the high score, laissez-faire was also on moderate score, just the intellectual simulation and the contingent reward were on  the low score. The administration of the school is majorly focused on the transactional and instructional because that is highly transformational and students are giving the better results.

Principal Best Practices

The interviews and observation gave the results that principal is focused on the best practices, in his administration of the five years; he gave the best principal’s actions that led the school towards the betterment, as the teachers and staff are working with the collaboration in order to get the effective results from the students.

Students Achievement

The principal of the school believes on the continuous improvement, the principal also focuses on the improvement of the teachers so that there could be better results in the school’s instructional objectives. For the success and achievement of the objective, the students are given time individually, so that they could compete in the real world and the real problem.

Student’s Problems, Solution, Communicate Effectively with the Inclusive Thinking

For the professional development, the school’s objectives focused on the student behavior, as the indicator of the Universal American School is based on the creatively, real world problem solution for the students and making them able to communicate effectively so that there could be the inclusive thinking.

Teaching and Assessment

In the school, there is the focus on the evaluation that is done in the school periodically; the feedback is also given to the teachers so that they could improve. Principal motivates and encourages improvement of the teachers. Principal and other management believe that assessment of teachers should be done timely.


The name of the school is Universal American School so American Common Core Standards or US curriculum is followed in order to fulfill the special needs students. There are the modified lesson plans so that the students of UAS can compete with the other students in the world.

The protection, care, guidance and support of students

In the UAS, there is focus on to provide the security to the students in the school so that parent should not have the issues, the students are providing with the care and proper guidance in the school. The leadership role by the managements shows effective, in the school’s environment.

Leadership and management

The overall performance of the school is good because of effective leadership and management style of principle.  The principal at the Universal American School (UAS) has strategies and plans regarding management, a performance of students, discipline at school etc.  All the other team members including administration and teachers are effective and love to work with the principals he supports, facilitate and encourage them to bring their best so the overall performance of the school and students can be improved. The school has effective communication system for the teachers, parents, and meeting with parents.  Teachers and principal can easily communicate with each other with the use of proper channel like with the phone call, application, weekly and monthly basis so that the progress, weakness, behavior and improvement regarding students can be discussed with the parents.  Moreover, school staff and principle have mutual understandings that help to deal with the challenges and maintaining the working environment at school (Wirba, 2015).


UAS school is focused on the quality of American international school, as the school focus on to incorporate with the strengths of the students own culture, the major goals of the school staff is to provide the core essential skills that are important for the students. UAS has focused on providing the sense of critical thinking and creativity in the students, so that there could be effective student’s development and the students should feel the sense of civic responsibility. Principal is training the faculty so that there should be the high-trained professionals and educators who focus on to ensure the successful development practices for all the students, so that the school can be finest in the Arab region. The main purpose of ML questionnaire helped to find out that to what extend the leadership style of principle is either transformational or transactional. The research has used the MLQ questionnaire, so that the designed questionnaire can encourage the more appropriate leadership practices that are focused or performed by the school. However, the transformational and the other leadership attitudes and behaviors are focuses and the efforts were analyze that the school transform for the effective performance standards. The principal’s leadership style tell that there was the effective leader and more transformational attitude was made through the idealized influence and intellectual stimulation of the students, moreover, the inspirational motivation was the meeting point for the student attainment of the progress.

According to the research and ML questionnaire, it was identified that the leadership style of principal is highly transformational and instructional rather than avoiding or transactional leadership style.  The principal’s of the school have the distinct leadership style, as the school performance and the leadership style have the correlation between each other because the research showed the aspects of the transformational and transactional leadership. The school performance focus on the important results through the transformational leadership because the principals wants to provide the higher levels of the job satisfaction to the students, the schools is performing better and the staff of the school has the job satisfaction as identified through the questionnaire. Through the assessment, moderate and positive results can be seen through the achievement progress. The substantial effects can be seen in the transformational leadership engagement as the steps are taken by the school principal, the principal is satisfied and committed and providing the training to the teacher so that there could be better learning of the students and better school performance. The results have shown the effective and transformational leadership in the school transformational atmospheres because from the male counterparts as a great leader commitment can be seen. School principal is a male and have mostly female teachers in his staff so the performance of school is great (Wirba, 2015).

The leadership style, actions, and practices of principal at school were identified based on observations and interviews. It is identified that the effective leadership style that is transformational and instructional leadership style led the school to have high performance, effective working ad studying environment, the overall performance of school and collaboration between parents, teachers, and principal.  According to observation and interview, it is identified that the principal has a charismatic leadership style that influences the behavior and performance of teachers at school.  According to observations, it is also identified that the principle do not compromise on rules and regulations especially when a new teacher is employed at the school, the principal makes sure that he follow the rules, regulation, and standards of a school including religious values. This strategy also helps a school to have outclassed performance. Principle provides opportunities to a teacher to have training and s development programs in order to have continuous improvement in performance of a school.  The principal has divided the leadership among other departments and supervisors so that continuous monitoring and improvement can be done. The principal’s division of authority, leadership, and responsibility shows the transformational and instructional leadership style that led principal to maintain an overall environment of school by solving issues, problems and conflicts.


The main purpose of the study was to identify the leadership styles of principal and to find out the behavior, practices, and actions of principle in order to have high standards, high performance and effective working environment at school. The research has selected the Universal American School (UAS), which has a competitive position in Dubai, UAE. The school follows the American-based curriculum and the leadership style of the principal Mr. Andrew Torris and vice principal with the other staff of the school. The results that were obtained are not correlated because it supports the previous research, for the tasks that are related to learning and achievement, the principal of the schools, need to spend more time in observing and evaluating the performance of the teachers and students. Principal behaviors can directly affect teachers and they can be commitment to work. Therefore, the principal of the school focus on building the transformational leadership.

According to literature, it is identified that there is a strong relationship between the transformational leadership style and teachers effectiveness. The transformational behavior of principle also helps students to have achievements.  The strategies, plans, rules, regulations and standards at school showed that principle gives importance to teachers and students as they are important o improve the standards and to improve the performance of a school.


There are major limitations of the research, as there was very limited time for observation and the analysis was done only on few people. There are MLQ responses, there can be few errors but there were only ten leaders with the principle and vice principle of the school, from whom the survey or the interviews were taken. The five-year administration may not give the accurate results regarding to the leadership that was performed in the school, thus, the concerned school should be focused on the longitudinal studies. Moreover, there were the absence of the stakeholders, as the students of the schools and their parents are not consulted, which can be a big limitation in study, because reviews taken from others can provide with the better results.

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