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Cadernos de Pesquisa

versión impresa ISSN 0100-1574versión On-line ISSN 1980-5314

Cad. Pesqui. vol.49 no.173 São Paulo jul./sept 2019  Epub 04-Oct-2019 





Nibaldo Benavides MorenoI

Sebastián Donoso-DíazII

Daniel Reyes ArayaIII

IUniversity of Talca, Talca (Maule), Chile;

IIUniversity of Talca, Talca (Maule), Chile;

IIIUniversity of Talca, Talca (Maule), Chile;;


Chile has promoted the development of managerial/pedagogical leadership. Consequently, it has introduced support and guidance instruments such as the Marco para la Buena Dirección y el Liderazgo Escolar [Framework for Good Leadership and School Leadership] (MBDLE). Opinions of directors from public institutions in the Maule region (Chile) were analyzed within the context of personal resources in their daily practices are arranged in this guiding axis. This is a qualitative exploratory study. The results agree that most of the directors use practices that coincide with these resources, steering their attention from more conventional management issues to the dimensions proposed in the framework, observing the need to improve some components of it.



Le Chili a fortement stimulé la performance de la direction administrative/pédagogique de ses établissements scolaires. Des outils visant à soutenir et guider le travail, comme le Marco para la Buena Dirección y el Liderazgo Escolar [Cadre de bonnes pratiques de direction d’établissement] (MBDLE) ont été introduits. Cette étude analyse les opinions des directeurs d’établissements publics de la région du Maule (Chili), concernant leurs pratiques quotidiennes rélatives aux ressources personnelles mobilisées autour de cet axe d’orientation. Il s’agit d’une étude qualitative exploratoire. Les résultats montrent que la plupart des directeurs utilisent des pratiques correspondant à ces directives et reportent leur attention des instruments de gestion plus conventionnelle aux proposés par le cadre d’orientation, ce qui met en lumière le besoin de mieux potentialiser certains composants du nouveau cadre.



O Chile tem impulsionado enfaticamente o desempenho da liderança diretiva/pedagógica. Assim, tem introduzido instrumentos de apoio e guia, como o Marco para la Buena Dirección y el Liderazgo Escolar [Marco para a Boa Direção e a Liderança Escolar] (MBDLE). São analisadas as opiniões de diretores de estabelecimentos públicos da região de Maule (Chile), no contexto das suas práticas cotidianas situadas nos recursos pessoais ligados a esse eixo orientador. Trata-se de um estudo exploratório qualitativo. Os resultados demonstram que a maioria dos diretores utilizam práticas coincidentes com esses recursos, transferindo sua atenção de matérias de gestão mais convencional para as dimensões propostas no marco, observando-se a necessidade de potencializar melhor alguns componentes do mesmo.



Chile ha impulsado con énfasis el desarrollo del liderazgo directivo/pedagógico. Consecuentemente ha introducido instrumentos de apoyo y de guía tales como el Marco para la Buena Dirección y el Liderazgo Escolar (MBDLE). Se analizan las opiniones de directores de establecimientos públicos de la región del Maule (Chile), en el ámbito de sus prácticas cotidianas situadas en los recursos personales dispuestos en este eje orientador. Es un estudio exploratorio cualitativo. Los resultados concuerdan que la mayoría de los directores emplean prácticas coincidentes con estos recursos, trasladando su atención desde materias de gestión más convencional, hacia las dimensiones propuestas en el marco, observándose la necesidad de potenciar mejor algunos componentes del mismo.


In the last decade Chilean educational policy has promoted an emphasis on the development of directive/pedagogical leadership as a fundamental tool for the improvement of school education. Educational establishments that have shown a positive improvement trajectory have, as a common factor, leadership exercised by the director,2 understood as “the task of mobilizing and influencing others to articulate and achieve shared objectives and goals” (LEITHWOOD et al., 2006). In this same sense, research points out that

[...] school director’ practices show their main strength focusing on an overall direction for the future of the establishment, thereby styles and effective leadership practices are developed in ways so directors rely on a set of skills that mobilize principles, skills and knowledge to support their work and legitimize it in the face of their community.3 (WEINSTEIN; MUÑOZ, 2012, p. 411; BELLEI et al., 2014, p. 65; CHILE, 2015, p. 13; own translation)

Within this framework, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) has gradually introduced supporting and guiding instruments for directors’ work, namely: the Indicative Performance Standards for Educational Establishments4 and also for their Sustainers or Responsible Parties (CHILE, 2014b) and the Marco para la Buena Dirección y el Liderazgo Escolar [Framework for Good Leadership and School Leadership] (MBDLE)5 (CHILE, 2015). This is part of the structure of the latest personal resources, defined by the Mineduc (CHILE, 2015, p. 30; own translation) as

[...] the director’s capacity to face daily and complex situations, make judgments and decisions. The fundamental assumption is that these resources may be learned and developed over time, and so there is a need for improvement, dedication, interest, study and resolution.6

The components are: (i) professional principles; (ii) skills and (iii) professional knowledge. Through its development daily and complex situations that a director faces may be managed in daily practice (CHILE, 2015).

Consistent with the above, the objective of this research was to analyze the opinions of directors from public schools, by considering two relevant reasons for the management of an educational establishment: (I) describe the practices shown in this guiding document, identify problems and challenges, and then (II) design support and guidance proposals in this area, in order to strengthen school director leadership.


The qualities manifested by an educational leader, when facing difficult and everyday situations are binding in first instance to their knowledge and distinctive to their character. They also represent the dominant views of leadership according to the paradigm of the period. Research and experience show that the behavior of those who lead and lead an educational establishment is fundamental to obtaining success in the processes concerning their development. Although leadership styles arise from a series of theories that try to identify them by placing different axes of attention in accordance with the dominant positions of different periods, the truth is that their evolution has influenced the development of principles, skills and co-operation.

In the 1940s, leadership styles were framed on how the director exercised power over the subordinates, ranging from marked authoritarianism to open leadership, which had no fixed goal. In this sense it can be observed that mobilized personal resources to achieve objectives, to a great extent advert an unknown degree of solidity, this is the most highlighted character trait of a leader. Lewin, Lippitt and White (1939) described three dominant styles of educational leadership exercised in that era: (i) authoritarian leadership (ii) democratic leadership and (iii) laissez faire leadership.

In the seventies, more than marking styles of leadership, tendencies were identified that were able to determine the effectiveness of it, visualizing the willingness of people to accept the responsibility of a task, evidencing the mobilization of some of the skills of those who managed to achieve them. Hersey and Blanchard (1977, p. 171) revealed the skills used highlighting

[...] the ability to identify the characteristics at an individual level and by the management team, through distributing tasks according to their competencies: (i) Direct, when the group has no willingness or capacity; (ii) Persuade, when the group has the will, but lacks the capacity; (iii) Encourage participation, when the group has the competences, but not the will; (iv) Delegate, when the team has the capacity and the will.

In the 1980s, a greater mobilization of these resources was clearly observed, setting the precedent that the evolution of leadership advances from an administrative criterion to a pedagogical one. Sergiovanni (1984, p. 6) points out:

[...] at the time to direct a greater development of knowledge, skills and principles centered on knowledge (technical leader), skills (educational leader and symbolic leader) and on certain character distinctions (humanist leader and cultural leader) can be seen, putting them at the service of a common pedagogical purpose through more associated work.

In the nineties, the leader continues to be perceived as a figure of authority separated, by the hierarchical nature of the role, from the community, where he/she leads and implements strategies. In this context, there is the development of certain principles and skills framed in specific areas, giving rise to some styles of leadership. Leithwood, Begley and Cousins (1990, p. 15) in Murillo (2006, p. 15) which are briefly: (i) Style A, where interpersonal relationships are emphasized; Style B, which focuses on student performance and well-being; (iii) Style C, which focuses on programs and their effectiveness in improving teaching staff skills; and (iv) Style D, which focuses on administrative and operating budgets.

Several studies have shown that the milestone in the development of educational leadership styles in the twentieth century was of a pure pedagogical nature that supported the movement of school effectiveness, which marked the importance of leadership to achieve quality schools (ANDERSON, 2010; BARBER; MOURSHED, 2008; BOLÍVAR, 2010; ELMORE, 2008; HORN; MARFÁN, 2010; LEITHWOOD et al., 2006; MARTÍNEZ; MURILLO, 2016; MUIJS; REYNOLDS, 2011; MURILLO, 2006; OCDE, 2010; RACZYNSKI; MUÑOZ, 2005; URIBE, 2010). In this context the development of the leader’s personal resources was clearly enhanced, attention was paid to their knowledge and skills, enabling greater strengthening of their knowledge and skills in order to face situations that this movement brought with it. Likewise, this helped to positively move away from the individualism so typical of past eras.

Finally, at the beginning of this century, a framework (theoretical/practical) was generated that contributes to the development of a management model for school improvement, based on a leadership approach shared by the school community. Distributed leadership was born, which implies a change in culture based on the commitment and involvement of all members. The model takes advantage of the different skills in a common cause, in such a way that it manifests itself at all levels (HARRIS, CHAPMAN, 2002). This redefines the role of the director, assuming themselves as agents of change that enhance the abilities of the members of the community in a common mission. This has led to a strong drive to develop all the capacities of those who exercise the role of leader, visualizing an advance and consolidation of their own strengths.

In short, the evolution of leadership styles has brought, firstly, a break away from the individualistic behavior that leaders had in the first decades, which secondly involved the development of other skills to achieve goals from more collective work. In this sense, the fundamental assumption is that they could achieve and systematize, giving way to current performance standards, such as those defined in the guiding document.


As a way to incrementally develop the professionalization of school management, some countries have introduced capacity measurement processes, setting standards for global practices at the competency level. The meaning of the determination of standards is to specify the directive function, guide professional development, define criteria for its evaluation and guide the selection of leaders (CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS DE POLÍTICAS Y PRÁCTICAS EN EDUCACIÓN - CEPPE, 2013, p. 14). In countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and Chile, standards have been defined for school leaders, which were formulated by the respective Ministry of Education, reviewing international experiences and also by consulting key actors. The guidelines developed in these countries are fundamentally generic for the position and are not entirely different from those of other latitudes - such as Australia, the United States, Great Britain or Korea -, they do not differ according to the context of the educational institutions or the moment of development of the managerial career (CEPPE, 2013; ORGANIZACIÓN DE LAS NACIONES UNIDAS PARA LA EDUCACIÓN, LA CIENCIA Y LA CULTURA - UNESCO, 2014). They consider both functional and behavioral skills, seeking to exhaustively cover dimensions such as: the generation of a guiding vision, the generation of organizational conditions, school coexistence, the development of people and pedagogical management (UNESCO, 2014). Countries such as Peru, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are in the process of developing standards in this same perspective (UNESCO, 2014).

The standards clarify the level of competence required of a school director, indicating what should be known and able to achieve in their profession, it is a framework for professional development, self-reflection and communication (OCDE, 2015, p. 91). Next are the competences classified by the OEI (2017) based on the model Villa and Poblete (2007) in three large blocks, that better clarify the standards developed in some Ibero-American countries.


Individual Empathy and Resilience   *     * *   *                
Ability to adapt and take criticism     * * *   * *   * *     *
Discretion       * * *   *               *
Trust and security     * *   *     *        
Ethics and Integrity     *   * *   *   *     * *   *
Emotional control     * *   *             *
Updated and constant training     *   * *   *   * *   *      
Social Effective communication * *   * * * * * *   * * *   *
Teamwork * * *   * * * *       * *     *
Negotiation capacity *   * *   *         * *
Pleasant and friendly treatment       * * *   *   *     *      
Interpersonal Relations *     * *   * * *   *     *
Attention to diversity         * *   *   *     * *    

Source: Adapted from OEI (2017).

From 20 countries researched by the OEI (2017)7, Cuba, Ecuador and Guatemala are the countries that concentrate the most on their national interpersonal skills’ regulations. Next are The Dominican Republic, Paraguay and at a lesser level Spain, Nicaragua, Peru and Portugal. It has also been observed that individual interpersonal competences of greater normative recurrence are focused on the ability to adapt and tolerate criticism (present in 8 countries), Ethics and Integrity (8 countries) and Permanent Update and Training in 7 countries. Likewise, those with less normative recurrence (present in 4 countries), are Empathy and Resilience, Security and Confidence and Emotional Control.

On the other hand, within the most recurrent social interpersonal skills are: Effective Communication (present in 12 countries), Teamwork (10 countries) and interpersonal relationships (8 countries). In the case of Chile, only 4 interpersonal skills are reflected in these two dimensions; one of an individual nature (Empathy and Resilience) and three of a social nature (Effective Communication, Teamwork and Negotiation Capacity).


Cognitive Knowledge of educational policy and administration       * * *   *   *   * * *   *
Skills in coordination, organization and supervision of a school     * * * * * * * * * *   * *  
Ability to reflect on their professional practice / understanding         * *   * * *       *    
Methodological Articulation of actions and decision- making *       * *   *     *   * *    
Conflict Resolution     * * * * * *     * * *     *
Planning, implementation and evaluation of plans and programs     *   * * * * * *        
Organization of time and spaces     *   * * * *                
Technological Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)       * * * *     *    
Strategy Development         * *   *   *            
Lingüistics Writing skills       * * *   *               *

Source: Adapted from OEI (2017).

Regarding instrumental competences in 20 Ibero-American countries, from 16 of them listed in Table 2, Cuba, Ecuador and Guatemala focus more instrumental competencies in their national regulations. On the other hand, Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua and Peru group together half of the competences, which is reflected in two dimensions. Only Paraguay and The Dominican Republic consider at least three of the four dimensions at least partially. It can also be observed that the instrumental competences of greater normative recurrence are focused on Coordination Skills, Organization and Supervision of a School Center (present in 12 countries), Conflict Resolution (present in 10 countries), Knowledge of Educational Policy and Administration (in 9 countries), Articulation of Actions and Decision-Making and Planning, Implementation and Evaluation of Plans and Programs present in 7 countries.

On the other hand, the least recurrent (present in 5 countries) are Organization of Time and Spaces, Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Writing Skills; on the other hand, instrumental competence associated with the Development of Strategies is linked to the Technological dimension incorporated in the regulations of 4 countries.

In the case of Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, El Salvador and Brazil, they have not identified instrumental cognitive, methodological, technological and linguistic competences in their national regulations.


Entrepreneurial capacity Initiative and creativity       * * *   *                
Staff and personal development     *   * *   *             *
Participation in meaningful experiences         * *   *         * *    
Promotes Scientific and Pedagogical Update         * *   *     *   *      
Organizational Management Training     *   * * * * *             *
Resourse Management     *   * *   *   *   *   * *  
Management that improves Teaching Practice         * *   *   *   *   *    
Training for quality management of pedagogical processes     *   * *   *   *       *    
Leadership Leadership * *   * * * * * *   * *   *   *
Technical and Pedological direction *   *   * *   *   * * *   *    
Strategic Vision   *     * *   *                
Curriculum Design     *   * *   *   *       *    
Pedalogical Autonomy         * *   *       *       *
Ability to development Educational environment     * * * *   * *  
Evaluation Ability         * *   *         *   *  
Achievement Management of pupil’s learning, well-being and achievement   *     * *   *   *       *   *

Source: Adapted from OEI (2017).

Finally, from 20 Latin American countries regarding systemic competences, Cuba, Ecuador and Guatemala are the countries that concentrate their national regulations on four dimensions associated with sixteen systemic competences. The systemic competences with the highest normative recurrence are focused on Leadership (present in 12 countries), Technical and Pedagogical Management (present in 9 countries), Resource Management (identified in 8 countries), Capacity for Management and Managing Student Learning, Wellness and Achievement (present in 7 countries).

On the other hand, those with the least regulatory recurrence (present in 4 countries), are Initiative and Creativity belonging to the Entrepreneurial Capacity and Strategic Vision dimension associated with the Leadership dimension. On the other hand, within the range of competences that are present in 5 countries, regarding the Entrepreneurial Capacity dimension, the systemic competences Self and Personal Development, Participation in Significant Experiences and Promoting Scientific and Pedagogical Update are indicated. In the case of Chile, two dimensions regarding systemic competences are identified that are referred to in their regulations, on the one hand, Leadership and Strategic Vision associated with the Leadership dimension and, in the case of the Achievement dimension, the Managing Student Learning, Wellness and Achievement.

Chile through the Mineduc (CHILE, 2015) presents its own performance standards contained in the Framework for Good Leadership and School Leadership that considers only some instrumental, systemic and interpersonal skills previously presented, grouped into personal resources under three dimensions.


Principles Ethics
Social Justice
Abilities Strategic Vision
Negotiation Capacity
Effective Communication
Permanent Learning
Sense of self-efficiency
Professional Knowledge Improve and change schooling
Inclusion and fairness
Professional Development
National education policies, national and local norms
Project Management

Source: Mineduc (CHILE, 2015).

These standards allow to orient the leadership function of a leader, showing principles of basic behaviors to strengthen cohesion, motivation and commitment in their team; the deployment of skills that detect internal and external needs and that, if developed, strengthen and condition more effective work; finally, to show the necessary professional knowledge, tools that, if used gradually, have an impact on the efficiency of the pedagogical processes and internal management.

In this regard, directors are key references and collaborators in the face of the needs and sensitivities of the school. Consequently, measuring their capacities in a standardized performance framework, with clear evaluation criteria, contributes to the improvement of their function, and serves as a guide for work practices of other school leaders.


Qualitative exploratory study that analyzes the practices, located in the personal resources set out by the MBDLE, from school directors of public establishments in the Maule region (Chile). The selection of cases (20) was intentional under the following criteria: (i) managerial experience of at least three continuous years and (ii) maintenance of indicators with a traceability over time over others of equal dependence (enrollment index , attendance rate and national test score). The semi-structured interview was used, validated following expert judgment. For processing, the Nvivo 10.0 software was used. Table 5 shows the dimensions and categories of the ministerial instrument performed in the interview.


Principles Ethics When facing conflicts that have taken place at the school : what are the most important values in your decision- making? Interpersonal Values
Interpersonal Values
Trust How have you made your teachers trust your decision- making? Authentic Behaviour
Teaching Autonomy
Social Justice Facing problems with social injustice (transparency,
impartiality) How do you handle this?
Director’s position
Effective Communication
Integrity How have situations been managed when mistakes have been made?
What did you do?
Accept consequences
Abilities Strategic Vision How do you take advantage of the opportunities your environment gives you to strengthen your educational unit? Use of support networks
Teamwork How do you build good workteams in your educational unit? Getting to know people
Team commitment
Negotiation Capacity When facing contingencies and conflicts, what negotiation strategies do you most often use? Effective Communication
Empathy When faced with the personal needs of the staff: how did you act? Positive Attitude
Constant Learning How do you grow professionally? Self- formation
Collective Learning
Formal Education
Sense of self-efficacy How do you obtain expected results in the educational unit? Leadership Management
Resilience When facing unachieved academic results: How do you act? Pedgalogical Reflection
Action Plan
School Leadership How do you manage to lead your educational unit? Personal Skills
Personal Qualities
Improve and change School What tools from the Quality Assurance System are considered adequate to improve school quality? Framework of Good Teaching
Quality standards
Good Direction and School Leadership Framework
Inclusion and fairness How is inclusion and fairness promoted in your school ? Inclusion Implementation Practices
Promoting Access
Curriculum What actions are taken to effectively achieve teaching and learning in your educational unit? Pedgological work
Working with the families
Professional Development How do you develop your teaching team professionally? Internal Improvement Strategies
External Improvement Strategies
National education policies, national and local norms How do you get your team to understand current educational and regulatory policies? Policy Reflection
Policy Promotion
Project Management What projects did your educational unit apply for in the last year? How did you manage them? Collaborative Work
Projects by the Ministry of Education
External Projects

Source: Authors’ elaboration.


Opinions from directors regarding their main decision- making in the last school year were analyzed, visualizing practices that give rise to capacities, knowledge, skills and character traits grouped into three dimensions of the MBDLE.


The principles stem from a belief system and value standard. These are conveyed in the Institutional Educational Project, which inspires and guides actions by educational leaders (CHILE, 2015). In this dimension, almost two thirds of the interviewees (12 cases, or 60%) stated that the (ethical) values ​​that prevail in their decisions in the face of a conflict are those that have remained over time and that are part of their culture and family formation, which are grouped together in the Intrapersonal Values category, standing out among the others are: respect, honesty and truthfulness.

The rest of the interviewees (8 cases) point out that their decisions - when confronting a conflict - are more focussed on universal values, developed from interaction with their peers, which are grouped together under the category of Interpersonal Values, with an emphasis on democracy, solidarity and empathy.

In reference to how the director encourages teachers to trust their decisions, the category with the highest recurrence (weighted) was Authentic Behavior (14 cases, 70%) understood as the way a director is considered reliable and consistent, being seen as “a living example”, through which he/she gets his/her teachers to have confidence in their decisions. Some answers were:

[should] always be at my best temperament (interviewee No. 2, free translation).

[I must] be very coherent and transparent with what one says and does (interviewee No. 3, free translation).

Secondly, the Teaching Autonomy category (6 cases, 30%) is defined as the degree of independence that the director confers to the teachers, which is reflected in the delegation of administrative and pedagogical responsibilities, subsequently requesting reports on the achievement of goals. Teaching autonomy is relevant for the development of their work, supporting it promotes greater degrees of security and confidence in the teams. Some answers were:

[to the teachers] I let them decide (interviewee N.° 7, free translation).

[...] allow them genuine pedagogical leadership (interviewee N.° 8, free translation).

[to the teachers] I give them high levels of trust (interviewee N.° 12, free translation).

In terms of performance when facing a social justice problem, the category with the highest recurrence was Director’s Position (12 cases, 60%), understood as the disposition and attitude when facing problems in this area, followed by effective communication (8 cases, 40%) understood as the mechanisms used to make themselves understood. Some answers signalled:

[I must] be clear, transparent and impartial (interviewee N.° 7, free translation).

[with teachers I must] maintain an open and constructive dialogue (interviewee N.° 10, free translation).

Finally, and with respect to the principles that he/she bases his/her actions on when faced with the situation of “assuming his/her errors”, the category Accepting Consequences is understood as the director’s capacity to accept their own mistakes, accepting the implications is the one that had greater recurrence (16 cases, 80%). In effect, the attitude (of a positive and transparent character) in the face of error and subsequent ability to accept their own mistakes, publicly acknowledging and committing to amend them, leads to strengthening levels of congruence and credibility in their team. Some answers were:

[I must] be able to recognize my mistakes and ask for help in a timely way (interviewee N.° 1, free translation).

[...] publicly assuming every consequence of my decisions (interviewe N.° 8, free translation).

In summary, the principles proposed by the guiding document may be appropriate based on the reality of the establishment and zones. In terms of the performance of the directors, essential values, social justice and integrity prevailed, achievement from clear and authentic practices to obtain their team’s trust for decision-making. However, it is necessary to further enhance the director’s character traits in order to strengthen cohesion, motivation and commitment by the team to make the necessary changes to achieve the success of the proposed objectives.


The skills proposed in the framework should be developed by school leaders through their actions, without infringing on the principles present in it (MINEDUC, 2015). Within this context, some points of contact among the interviewees were identified in behavioral and technical capacities that form the basis of their everyday work. Faced with the strategic vision, almost two thirds of those interviewed (12 cases, 60%) said that taking advantage of the opportunities offered by an environment that strengthens their educational unit and the use of support networks are key, the most recurrent activity was contact with organizations in their community. Some answers indicate:

[I must] manage support networks in the community such as: the police force, health centres, and meetings with neighbors (interviewee N.° 10).

[I must] manage contacts with networks outside the community (interviewee N.° 12).

With regard to how they put work teams together, 70% (14 cases) of the directors mention that they first seek to get to know the people, that is, they observe each member in order to characterize their abilities, before being considered for a work team of. Added to this ability, although in lesser recurrence (30%, 6 cases) is ensuring the acquisition of individual Commitments in order to ensure a greater degree of responsibility and confidence in their work.

[I must ] meet people and then group them according to their abilities (interviewed N.° 18).

[subsequently] I establish trust and appeal to the identity of each one within the organization (interviewee N.° 16).

On the other hand, compared to the ability to negotiate contingencies and conflicts, the strategies that are most often used (60%) are to privilege effective communication, a skill that leads to listening and having dialogue with and among those involved, expecting each one to give their points of view to then mediate feasible solutions. The interviewees point out that avoiding conflicts in a punitive way by promoting dialogue, avoids confrontation between parties and extending their own terms. In this same way and facing the personal needs of the staff, mostly the directors (80%, 16 cases) have a positive attitude in resolving them, proven by providing facilities, acting with flexibility and empathy, generating conditions to resolve them. Some answers were:

[I start by] talking to the parties separately and then together (interviewee N.° 14).

[...] favoring dialogue to reach agreements more than arguing (interviewed N.° 16).

[we must] always put ourselves in the place of the other, providing the professional conditions to solve the problem (interviewee N.° 11).

Another skill and one that is related to how directors manage to develop professionally is Self-training, understood as the ability of each director to continue growing professionally in an autonomous or self-taught manner, mentioned by the majority (60% equivalent to 12 cases) as a main strategy. The category that follows is collective learning (8 cases), that is, learning occurs intra establishment, where their practice is enriched and a result of interaction with their peers. In a lower recurrence some interviewees maintain that to develop professionally a formal education is needed, based on improvement received through specialized external agencies. Likewise, some interviewees express their interest in continuing to develop through continuous improvement. Some answers that represent the above were:

[I] constantly study and read a lot (interviewee N.° 18).

[I have grown professionally] with the work team, I learn a lot from my peers (interviewee N.° 12).

[I have grown professionally] through training and improvement courses and I have even participated in internships abroad (interviewee N.° 6).

Finally, regarding the skills (self-efficacy) used by the directors to achieve the expected results, the category Management with leadership understood as the use of various mechanisms to achieve goals had a greater recurrence (60%, 12 cases). Likewise, and in relation to how the interviewees act when the results are not achieved (ability to resilience), the dominant category was pedagogical Reflection (70%, 14 cases) understood as the actions to be carried out in order to encourage the teachers to permanently analyze their pedagogical practices, in order to generate awareness of goals not achieved, focusing more on repairing and correcting through analysis and joint reflection work than on blaming others. Similarly, another group of directors, with less recurrence (30%, 6 cases), refers to the Action Plan category, understanding that remedial plans are useful when proposed goals are not achieved. Some answers were:

[...] hard and collaborative work, we support each other (interviewee N.° 4).

[I offer] a lot of support to the teachers, I have great confidence in them (interviewee N.° 7).

[...] analyzing how the pedagogical practices were and looking in detail at the procedure used to know what was the problem and attacking it to reverse the situation (interviewee N.° 16).

[...] looking for strategies such as: boosting remedial plans, evaluating and continuing to be better (interviewed N.° 14)

According to the above, the directors emphasize that in the implementation of the skills proposed by the management instrument there is first, attention to the components of it being operationalized through practical activities, so as to be able to see the deployment of these capabilities. In the leaders competences for the establishment of support networks, negotiation and a sense of permanent improvement in their professional aspect can be observed. However, it is necessary to show more skills in accompaniment, guidance and acquisition of commitments by the members of each team, facilitating more efficient, deep-rooted and responsible work.


The personal resources presented in the MBDLE involve its installation and promotion from a systemic and integrating vision, where the actors share its principles, show their skills collectively and put their professional knowledge at the service of the school system, with the purpose of positively impacting the learning of all students (CHILE, 2015).

Within this context facing school Leadership, which is the first component of the dimension under study, more than 80% of the interviewees (16 cases) point out that, to achieve this, Personal Skills is the most relevant category, that is understood as the use of tools that mobilize and influence the work team. In this same perspective, another group of directors, although less recurrent (20%, 4 cases), commented that in order to lead their school they had to develop certain personal Qualities that act as motivating agents, which allow for improved commitment from their employees. Some answers that support the above were.

[I must] motivate people to be willing (interviewee N.° 12).

[I must] always act with transparency and respect. Being equanimous in the decisions I make (interviewee N.° 8).

Regarding the tools proposed by the Ministry of Education and used by the director for school improvement and change, these indicate that the ones used the most are: the MBDLE (60%), the Framework for good direction (30%) and the Quality Standards (10%). In contrast to the methods used for the implementation of inclusion and school equity in schools, directors mainly refer to generating integration projects and the promotion with open access with no cognitive and / or motor differences. Some actions mentioned are:

[...] accepting everyone, being open schools, not selective. We are all the same (interviewee N.° 4).

[...] we work and strongly support the school integration project of the school (interviewed N.° 9).

Regarding how directors manage the curriculum to reach relevant performance indicators, for example, most note that there is strong pedagogical work in terms of the national SIMCE8 test, invloving the main activities in the classroom such as: practice tests , good educational practices to develop the curriculum within the classroom, improved assistance rate when Working with the families, through actions such as: efficient communication with the pupils’ families and together maintaining constant work.

These strategies, according to the interviewees, are able to promote and generate commitments, giving them certain guarantees to be able to improve low attendance in some cases. Some answers were “the importance of attendance is discussed with the parents”, “if there is a pupil who does not come to classes, there is a social worker who goes to the house”, “They ask what is happening and compromises are obtained”. The way directors use to improve the enrollment rate in their establishment is mainly by maintaining academic excellence and discipline, in order to give greater confidence to the parents in this regard. Some answers that come to support what was said were:

[...] if the educational community sees that the school has good results, then in some ways there is a lot of demand to attend this school (interviewee N.° 2).

[...] we have had academic excellence over these last five years, so people are interested in that too (interviewee N.° 5).

[...] they have confidence in the school because they see learning and also good discipline (interviewee N.° 15).

In summary, the directors, with the aim of maintaining and improving their school’s enrollment ratios, consider that their best strategy is to carry out efficient pedagogical-administrative management that is reflected in concrete results (SIMCE), as well as worrying about maintaining good school behavior in their pupils.

One of the important tasks of the director, which is part of their regular work, is to achieve the professional development of his/her team. In this aspect we may see that the highest number of recurrences (60%, 12 cases) is in the External Improvement Strategies category, which implies that in order to develop their teaching team professionally, there is a group privileges promoting training or improvements from the Ministry of Education, in this way their teachers keep up to date, acquire new knowledge and manage to adapt their teaching methods according to the context in which they are developed.

[through] trainings from the Ministry of Education, specifically what is delivered by the Center for Improvement, Experimentation and Pedagogical Research (CPEIP), which is very up to date (interviewee N.° 2).

[through ] teaching improvement by specialized entities in the area (interviewed N.° 19).

In this same sense another group, although in lesser recurrence refers to the category of internal improvement Strategies, where their concern is focused on promoting actions that allow pedagogical progress in their teachers giving much relevance to what may develop within their own organization. Some answers were:

[...] a lot of work with our peers and self-training (interviewee N.° 5);

[...] promoting in my team mentor teachers to take charge of the new teachers (interviewee N.° 6).

In terms of how the director manages to have his/her management team internalize the national education educational policies and current educational regulations, the category with the highest recurrence and that represents 90% (18 cases) was the Promotion of policies, understood as the actions that are carried out in a permanent, systematized and concrete way to internalize the changes in educational regulations and laws. They point out that they can perfectly combine and balance systematized work meetings with conversations, reflections, opinions, readings of an informal nature, this for them is constant, it is part of the school culture, that is, they think that any way to understand the educational and normative policies in education is important, without making a clear distinction between the systematized, formal and informal. Another group of directors had a very similar opinion, although less (10%, 2 cases) with respect to the internalization strategy of the National Education Policies, where they refer to Reflection actions of the policies, instances that may debate and collaborate on their scope and implementation strategies. Some answers were:

[...] we meet once a week to socialize and analyze what comes from the ministry (interviewee N.° 7).

[We hold] meetings with the management team and teachers to analyze educational policies and educational standards, where we listen, think and reflect on these (interviewee N.° 14).

Another important task of the director is the management of projects, where most of them (80% of the interviewees) indicate that their main action is collaborative Work to see the ideas proposed by the Ministry of Education (first option), then taking decisions proposed the most: “Let’s move for public education”, “improvements in the infrastructure of the educational unit” and “mobilization”.

Next as a second option is the application of External projects based on projects by governmental or private institutions, being the most recurrent: “seeding capital arranged by public universities”, “healthy lifesyles”. Trust placed in the Ministry of Education and its policies to improve the quality of education, feeling supported and motivated to participate in the help and support provided by the higher education authorities is indicated. On the other hand, the lower participation of Projects external to the Ministry of Education draws attention, because the recurrence is very low in comparison to the governmental projects, they are only isolated projects.

In short, the professional knowledge that the ministerial instrument presents is fundamental in the work done by directors. Thus, in order to lead a school, personal experience is not enough, it is necessary to promote knowledge that may improve the management of educational projects, the promotion of current policies and regulations, the efficient management of up-to-date management tools and the professional development of their team. In this way it is possible to provide sustenance to the practices of their work.


Based on the opinions of the directors of public school establishments in the Maule region (Chile), in the area of ​​practices found in the personal resources provided in the MBDLE, the results indicate that the directors say they are focused on this area in their daily work. The transfer of the axis of its attention is verified, from the more conventional (administrative) management matters, which were for a long time the dominant tone of the directors, towards a diversity of dimensions proposed by the Guidance document. This is supported by observing in the analysis responses that warn against a lack of concern in the face of diverse complex situations that occur in the school cycle, such as: acting with greater social justice, promoting inclusion and equity, taking advantage of opportunities offered by the environment, overcoming contingencies and conflicts, effectively managing the curriculum, scenarios that require greater concern and the use of a set of skills and knowledge that lead to decision- making.

The results argue the need for greater strengthening and amplitude of these global practices analyzed in the sphere of the performance standards of a director. Essentially based on the need to create school organization with less personalized direction and less dependent on who directs it, it is necessary to extend the development of these principles, skills and knowledge to all members of the school community in order to achieve more distributed leadership. This requires a change in culture in a school, based on greater responsibility and involvement of all its members.

In the problems and challenges area for each framework component and in terms of the principles, to a large extent it was observed that leaders adapted their practices to the needs of educational institutions, giving priority to intrapersonal and interpersonal values, observing the actions capacity to face daily situations in the field of social justice and shared management in technical pedagogical and administrative areas. However, if this dimension serves as a guide to be, think and drive these educational actors, it should be promoted better, in order to enhance the character traits of the director, hence, the educational system with its institutional policies has a lot to say and do.

In terms of skills development, the promotion of strategies may be observed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the environment and to overcome contingencies and conflicts, thus achieving more cohesive and effective work. However, it was not possible to elucidate how much of this corresponds to reactive actions in situations already generated or which are part of their regular actions, such as longer-standing convictions, inserted in their permanent actions. It is certain that to develop these abilities disposition and interest in their own subject is first required, supported by public policies encouraging permanent motivation, a way to strengthen the directive work.

At the professional knowledge development level, the directors perceive personal skills and knowledge that allow them to manage administrative and technical pedagogical processes. The tools emanated from the education system along with the personal skills to: manage the curriculum, manage projects for the school, promote inclusion and equity, are knowledge and acquired knowledge through formal education processes, as well as professional experience, allowing to sustain the practices of their work. However, to make the professional knowledge development sustainable, substantive changes are required in the initial and continuous training of a director, which implies establishing a robust institutional framework (clear regulatory standards) as the starting point to guide and support training processes and permanent improvement.

In summary, the results of the study are in agreement with most of the personal resources used by the directors as coincident with those raised by the ministerial instrument, demonstrating that their practices are aimed at the permanent improvement of the school unit, therefore to achieve a balance between the democratic, pedagogical and administrative is a challenge for these leaders, and this has been demonstrated , for example, when directors mention that they work hard for standardized tests and manage the curriculum to achieve success for only some relevant indicators.

Finally, and already at the level of the proposals for support and orientation for the directive leadership in the framework of personal resources disposed by the MBDLE, it is relevant (1) to promote at the governmental level a system of development of the components of the same , with impacts on local leadership. In this sense it is necessary to consider contextual competences that involve aspirations expressed in institutional Educational Projects or simply agreed by the local school community, including performance standards not only in what they should essentially know (curriculum management) but in what they do not necessarily dominate (emergent curriculum management skills); (2) promote the strengthening of policies in continuous improvement in the area of ​​personal resources, which requires implementing communities of leaders oriented to network improvement, trained and empowered, with a shared language, with effective tools and methods for their development. If we add to this (3) promote and incorporate new efficient performance standards, we recognize that this is the way to achieve a directive leadership with sufficient personal resources to impact on quality education.


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NOTEThe work represents the opinions of the three authors and has been stolen from a joint work.

1We appreciate the financial support of the UTALCA-IIDE-2017-09 program and the Educational Leadership Development Center (CEDLE- Proyecto 12) supported by the Ministry of Education of Chile.

2In order to facilitate reading and respect the linguistic principle of the expressive economy, the masculine (director, directors) will be used during the text, following the precept that, according to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, it can be used as a generic representative inclusive of men and women.

3In the original: “las prácticas de los directores escolares presentan su principal fortaleza en la fijación de una dirección general de futuro para el establecimiento; así, los estilos y prácticas de liderazgo efectivas se desarrollan en la medida que los directivos cuenten con un conjunto de competencias que movilizan principios, habilidades y conocimientos que den soporte a su quehacer y lo legitimen frente a su comunidad.”

4They are framed in the National System of Quality Assurance of School Education. Its design is established in the General Law on Education (LGE, No. 20,370, 2009) and in the law that establishes the National System for Quality Assurance of Early Childhood, Basic and Secondary Education and its control (No. 20,529, promulgated in 2011). The National Quality Assurance System includes various instruments and measures to promote a continuous improvement of student learning and promote the institutional capacities of educational establishments in the country (CHILE, 2014a).

5We understand by the following denominations: guide document, management instrument or ministerial instrument.

6In the original: “la capacidad del director de hacer frente a situaciones complejas y cotidianas, elaborar juicios y tomar decisiones. El supuesto fundamental es que estos recursos son posibles de aprender y desarrollar en el tiempo y para ello se requiere disposición a la mejora, dedicación, interés, estudio y resolución.”

7 Regarding interpersonal and instrumental competences, both Bolivia and Brazil (13 of the 27 states that participated in the research), El Salvador and Uruguay do not contemplate in their national regulations the competences declared in Table 1 and following.

8System of Measurement of the Quality of Education. Test that is applied census and annually to students in 4th grade in Mathematics and Language and alternately every two years in the 8th and 10th grades.

Received: February 10, 2019; Accepted: June 07, 2019


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