Supportive and demanding managerial circumstances and associations with excellent workability: a cross-sectional study of Swedish school principals

Roger Persson, Ulf Leo, Inger Arvidsson, Kerstin Nilsson, Kai Österberg, Carita Håkansson

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Abstract

Background: The leadership of principals is important for school, teacher and student related outcomes. To be capable of doing their work (i.e., having sufficient workability), school principals need proper organisational preconditions, motivation, and good health. It is therefore concerning that some studies suggest that principals have a work situation that risks taxing their health and reducing their workability. However, few studies have examined the psychosocial working conditions of principals and no study has gauged principals’ workability. Accordingly, we decided to examine Swedish principals’ workability and their perceptions of eight demanding and five supportive managerial circumstances as well as the associations between managerial circumstances and reports of excellent workability. Methods: The participants comprised 2219 Swedish principals (78% women) who completed a cross-sectional web survey in 2018. A brief version of the Gothenburg Manager Stress Inventory (GMSI-Mini) gauged managerial circumstances. Workability was assessed with the workability score (0–10; WAS). Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between managerial circumstances and reports of excellent workability (WAS ≥ 9). Covariates were: length of work experience as a principal, school level, self-rated health, and general self-efficacy. Results: The results showed that circa 30% of the principals reported excellent workability. The GMSI-Mini results showed that role conflicts, resource deficits, and having to harbour co-workers’ frustrations were the most frequently encountered managerial demands. Meanwhile, cooperating co-workers, supportive manager colleagues, and a supportive private life were the most supportive managerial circumstances. Adjusted logistic regression analyses showed that role conflicts and role demands were associated with an increased likelihood of reporting less than excellent workability. In contrast, supportive managerial colleagues, a supportive private life and supportive organisational structures were associated with an increased likelihood of reporting excellent workability. Conclusion: Circa 30% of the participating principals perceived their workability to be excellent. Reducing role demands, clarifying the principals’ areas of responsibility and accountability in relation to other actors in the governing chain (role conflicts), striving for increased role clarity, and striving to find ways to separate work and private life, seem to be promising intervention areas if increasing principals’ workability is desired.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
Pages (from-to)109
Number of pages14
JournalBMC psychology
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology (30302)
  • Occupational Health and Environmental Health (30303)

Keywords

  • Education
  • Exhaustion
  • Leader
  • Self-rated health
  • Stress
  • Organisation
  • Wellbeing
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sweden
  • Female
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Schools
  • Educational Personnel

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