Staff Stress and Interpersonal Conflict in Secondary School-Implications for School Leadership
The importance of school leadership and workplace stress is a recurring theme in education-based research. The literature reports that workplace stress in teaching is a difficult matter to resolve, with mixed outcomes from interventions. The aim of this initial scoping study was to report on the experiences of school leaders with interpersonal conflict (IPC), a known cause of this workplace stress. Accordingly, a sample of twelve school leaders working in Irish post primary schools were recruited to participate in this study using semi-structured interviews. All twelve participants reported experiencing workplace stress and linked other people as a source of this stress. Nine out of twelve had experienced IPC as a school leader. School leaders also noted a fear of reporting workplace stress. Half of the participants reported becoming ill from workplace stress and had taken time off from work. Participants also reported ‘balkanisation’ of like-minded cliques that tried to exert control over other groups. None of the participants expressed confidence in organisational strategies to resolve workplace stress or IPC. This study demonstrates that resolutions for IPC were scant. Further research is needed to conceptualise this phenomenon in the school environment and to support school leaders to effectively manage IPC as a cause of workplace stress.
PublicationSocieties 12(6), 186
Department or School
- School of Education