Identifying the potential implications of the leadership succession process on school employees at an independent school : an instrumental case study.


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All schools experience leadership succession. If a school does not formulate an educational leadership succession plan (ELSP), the trajectory of the school’s growth and sustainability plan shifts during the transition process. Four critical issues negatively affect the success of a school’s leadership succession transition. The first issue is an informal or non-existent educational leadership succession plan, and the second is limited school employee involvement in the succession decision-making process. The third issue is new principals lacking connectedness to the school’s mission and goals. Fourth, is a disregard for the potential impact of the succession process on the school employees (Gary & Bishop, 2009; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Mattar, 2020a). Although studies abound on leadership succession, research focusing on school administrative teams, faculty, and staff remains limited regarding the impact of leadership succession on these key stakeholders. This instrumental case study focused on the implications of a leadership succession process on employees at an independent high school. The transformational leadership theory framework guided the research for this case study conducted at the Grier School, an independent all-girls boarding and day-student high school. The evidence sources for data collection included online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Forty school employees representing the faculty, staff, and administration graciously volunteered to participate in the instrumental case study and completed the online questionnaire. Eight of the 40 participants agreed to a semi-structured interview. Detailed descriptions emerged from the collected and analyzed data, forming narratives based on three prominent themes—a climate of trust, a sense of meaning, and an empowering environment. The evidence solidified the importance of investigating the implications of leadership succession on school employees and recognized their involvement in the succession process gave voice to those not typically included in such a significant school transition. This instrumental case study addressed the research question and supported the call for continued research on schools' potential growth and sustainability based on the ELSP utilized within the school.