In contrast to transformational leadership, a transactional leader achieves their aims by rewarding employees who meet the desired results. Instructional leadership can be through direct and indirect behaviour. Direct behaviour focuses on the quality of teachers such as setting the aim ensuring the quality of education and curriculum practices, managing professional development and building a feeling of collective responsibility. On the other hand, Indirect behaviour, creates the conditions for optimal teaching and learning, such as necessary resourcing, problem solving and creating an organised environment. Indirect instructional leadership is particularly necessary for secondary headteachers because direct leadership is the responsibility of deputies and heads of departments. However, one feature of this model is the collaboration between headteacher and teachers on curriculum and instruction, as both share responsibility for employees and curriculum development, and the principal seeks to work with the expertise of teachers for school improvement. This side of the shared instructional leader are similar to the transformational leadership style where teachers’ collaboration and teamwork are critical. Meanwhile, instructional leadership is based on the idea that staff are likely to be led rather than be responsible for their choices and decisions making. Thus, the leader depends on top-down decision methods to lead staff, determine resources and begin the process of change.
However, there are other important differences between both styles. Firstly, transformational leadership style, modify and motivate followers to act for the needs of others, while transactional leadership is based on a system of rewards and punishments, it does not offer much in terms of inspiration, to motivate followers to achieve beyond their expectations. Secondly, transactional leadership also fails to plant vision, sense, and confidence in staff. Furthermore, transactional leadership has features such as, negotiating abilities and rewards in exchange which may strengthen the organisational policies among their employees. And finally, transformational leadership can build a less political working environment which ultimately has a positive impact on their job satisfaction. For example, in education institutions, head-teachers need to consider the abilities of teachers and should unravel the possibility of their subordinates through practicing further transformational leadership behaviour and creating a motivating and less political environment that may lead to job satisfaction. In brief, transformational leadership is likely to be more proactive and more influential than transactional leadership. However, while the former focuses on the foundation of transactional leadership, the latter style appears to be the most effective leadership style for the achievement of outcomes in secondary schools, due to the heads of schools using transformational leadership to generate competitive advantage and distinction of their school.
Transformational leadership has not been widely practiced in KSA schools. The Ministry of Education in KSA seems to combine the role of leadership and management and restricts both functions to the headteacher. In addition, the education system in KSA is centralised which leaves less chance for school independence and influences on creativity and competition among schools, as well as encouraging centralisation within schools. Furthermore, school leadership in KSA appears to be typified as learning-centred because it emphasises learning results that are measured by tests and formal assessments, rather than the personalisation of learning which is the characteristic feature of the learner-centred leader. So, the key task of the education ministry in KSA is to build the capacity of others to present learner-centred leadership at all levels of the school and give more flexibility and independence to leaders to be able to cope with the constantly changing requirements of learning and knowledge development.
Despite the cultural diversity between the UK and KSA educational systems in terms of school leadership, there are a set of shared principles. Although, cultural diversity still plays a significant role in the UK educational system, the educational system may be efficiently applied. However, some parts of transformational leadership are applied in the UK, such as enhancing collaboration, encouraging professional development, having shared values and clear vision, and promoting success and achievements. In contrast the leadership and teachers in KSA school follow the prescriptive instructions to run the education institution. For example, head-teachers often need to stimulate creativity or provide motivation and they need the funds to achieve the targets through providing awards as a motivation. However, due to the hierarchy process, it could be difficult to obtain financial support from the Ministry of Education. Moreover, there are few opportunities for leaders to function individually within the administrative system in KSA, and they do not accept responsibility for their decision because of the high degree of bureaucratic management. In addtion, the curriculum, exams, school timetable and semesters are determined by the Ministry of Education and the school principal must follow instructions. In brief, there is no scope for the principal to plan, develop the quality of teaching, or lead the whole process without permission from the government. As a result, the principal is rarely practising a leadership role, because the principal needs the freedom to manage and control without limitations from higher educational authorities. However, limits on freedom to move forward, and determine the school instruction mean some head-teachers in Saudi Arabia are conformist and appear to be too timid. Therefore, this kind of leader tends to follow the instructions rigidly and such a principal may not lead a successful school since many principals focus on their managerial duties rather than teaching and learning, for example, most headteachers practice effective transformational leadership style, although they are accountable for the plenty of administrative tasks, Owing to the de-centralisation system in British schools.
There are reservations towards the implementation of transformational leadership style in KSA schools, this is the result of several factors including there is no alternatively training for headteachers or certification programme and school principals are recruited based on their teaching experience rather than their leadership potential. Another factor is the lack of powerful criteria and the absence of clear leadership and management qualifications for the recruitment of principals. Furthermore, the most effective leadership style among school depends on many factors such as culture, society, politics, and all the circumstances in the school environment. However, people, work and environment are three aspects that have an important impact on applying a school leadership style for schools. Therefore, the Ministry of Education in KSA have to deal with all these challenges to apply transformational leadership in KSA schools.
On the other hand, The Department of Education in the UK publishes league tables annually to motivate teachers to improve their academic achievement, providing valuable information for parents and increasing local accountability. In addition, every week, Ofsted ‘carry out hundreds of inspections and regulatory visits throughout England and publish the results online’. Ofsted’s aim is to achieve excellence in education. Therefore, the league tables and Ofsted have played an important role in education leadership in the UK, by encouraging head-teachers to convert their practices, create better situations for school improvement and broaden the scope of school autonomy. However, there are more similarities than differences between the KSA and UK education system in terms of the roles and tasks that are played by headteachers, when it comes to promoting effective schools and developing schools as learning organisations. Saeed (2016) asked twenty teachers from both countries, about the efficiency and integration of management systems such as strategic planning and vision, allocation resources and strategic goals. He said, 6 out of 10 of KSA teachers “agree” that the management systems in their school are effective, and 4 indicated that they “disagree”. In addition in the UK education, 6 out of 10 “strongly agreed” and 4 teachers have agreed (Saeed,2016) (Show figure1).
Figure1: the efficiency and integration of management systems
In conclusion, while some aspects of transformational leadership are practised in KSA schools, such as promoting collaboration, supporting professional development, being committed to a shared goal, and encouraging success and achievements, others are not. Most head-teachers proceed to depend on hierarchical approaches while trying to be culturally and emotionally more acceptable than in the past. However, it is important to note that although some aspects of transformational and transactional leadership are practised in the UK education system, its incarnation may differ in KSA schools, and specific types may not be completely applicable in every context. As mentioned, there are important differences between the education in both countries as the UK is a de-centralised and the cultures of both countries is also an important factor, it is essential to include local norms and cultures into any future school leadership development program in the KSA.