Morality or Mechanics: A Dilemma for Educational Leaders of 21st Century
The present century has added a number of challenges to educational leaders: the growing competition, high community expectations, economic challenges and hyper connected technological globalization which require manifold decisions on the part of educational leaders. The study in hand is an endeavor to explore the conflict of moral preferences against highly task oriented or mechanical decisions opted by educational leaders. The study adopted qualitative paradigm for in depth phenomenological inquiry of the perceptions and experiences of 12 educational leaders about their preferences, either moral or mechanical, in the sense of task oriented demands. The purposive sample comprised deans, directors and heads of departments at a Pakistani women university who were individually interviewed. Thematic analysis of the transcripts revealed that the educational leaders faced pressures of imposing high workloads to the staff, irrational downsizing, intruding personal privacy of staff by demanding 24/7 technological availability, reducing flexibility, being stern to conflicts, being less empathetic and insensitive to individual problems and imposing deadlines to be met by the staff. In addition, they found less time to listen to the individual problems of their staff or to motivate them. They were deeply concerned about the external and internal organizational policies that might demoralize the staff. The educational leaders confessed that the increased number of credit hours and changed social and technological environment had reduced opportunities of character building and moral grooming for students. The study shows implications for balancing the mechanical challenges of the 21st century with moral emphasis and priorities of ‘right action’ in the field of education.