Leadership Formation for Succession: Examining Leadership Development at U.S. Catholic Schools Sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross
Clark, Marco J.
Sooner or later, every Catholic school faces a change of leadership. Research indicates that leadership succession is one of the most important influences on the sustainability of schools, yet most Catholic schools do not include leadership succession planning as a part of their strategic plan. The purpose of this qualitative, multi-site case study was to examine the leadership development practices and administrative succession plans employed at three selectively sampled Holy Cross-sponsored Catholic secondary schools. These practices were compared and contrasted with those in business, the nonprofit sector, public education, independent schools, and other Catholic schools. The intent of the research was to use the findings to develop a set of recommendations and strategies to strengthen leadership development and succession planning in these Catholic schools. Results of the study suggested that the most effective leaders positively influence leadership development and succession planning by inviting aspirant and emergent leaders to lead, personally cultivating their formation, and planning strategically for leadership transitions in the future. This study identified five key leadership characteristics that contribute to successful leadership development and succession—mission, modeling, mentorship, opportunities to lead, and collaboration. These findings contributed to the development of leadership succession strategies that will assist Holy Cross schools to transition from the prevalent hire and hope approach to leadership succession to a more systematic and strategic process of leadership formation for succession. Keywords: Leadership succession, Catholic education, educational administration
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