Empowering healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous school leaders.

Project Summary

There is a nationally recognized need for new approaches to school leadership. Turnover of both principals and teachers is a serious problem for school districts across the country although it is most intense for those serving the poorest and lowest performing students. Theoretically, Servant Leadership (SL) instantiates the universal truth that service to others quenches a spiritual thirst in humans for leading lives of love and virtue while at the same time filling the functional need in modern institutions for staff who are highly engaged, productive, and resilient. 

Of the many approaches to leadership that have been proposed and examined, it is the theory most directly linked to the stakeholder theory of organizations (Freeman, 1984). This paradigm proposes that the most successful management is one which cares for and prioritizes all stakeholders, not just limited to traditional stakeholders such as employees, customers, faculty and/or students, but also including broader stakeholders such as communities and society.

The primary goals of the Cultivating Virtue in Leaders (CViL) professional development program are 1) the further development of CViL content and components, 2) the integration and pilot test of CViL-enhanced LACE, and 3) to identify and pilot test the evaluation tools necessary for the validation and national scale-up of the new program.

Research Questions

How can the explicit cultivation of the servant leadership virtues of compassionate love, humility, courage, forgiveness, future-mindedness and stewardship be integrated into in-service school leader programming such as the Leadership Academy in Character Education (LACE)?

Do in-service school leaders find the philosophy of Servant Leadership, with its explicit virtue focus relevant, acceptable and feasible within their educational context?

What concerns do in-service principals have in regards to Servant Leader virtue development and practices?

Can the servant leadership virtues, and subsequent servant leadership behaviors, be increased in school leaders through in-service professional development efforts?

Do participants perceive personal positive benefit to program participation in terms of (a) spiritual and emotional well-being, (b) ability to cope with adversities when they arise, and (c) work life spillover?

Is there a relationship between SL virtues and the successful implementation of comprehensive Character Education and the creation of a positive school climate?

Project Team

Melinda Bier

Co-Principal Investigator

Marvin Berkowitz

Co-Principal Investigator

Satabdi Samtani

Research Scientist

Billy Rucker

Media Production Director

Christohper Funk

Research Consultant

Funding Partners

Funders partnered with the Center for Character and Citizenship in its mission to engage in research, education and advocacy that will foster the development of character, democratic citizenship and civil society. The CViL project is possible with the generosity of investors and supporters. Because of them, school administrators understand their purpose, build capacity and serve as leaders. We are grateful for the partnership with the following supporters: