Constructing principals’ professional identities through life stories: an exploration
Adopting a humanistic perspective to the study of leadership, I discuss and describe how school principals adapt to their new roles, owing to the new education policies and educational restructuring within the South African Department of Education. The Life History approach was used to collect data from six selected school principals in KwaZulu-Natal. On the basis of the analysis of data, I conclude that leaders create their provisional selves and construct their professional identities from their personal and professional knowledge. Provisional selves, in this context, are temporary solutions principals use to close the gap between their current capacities and self-concepts, and the ideas they hold about what attitudes and behaviours are expected in their new roles.
Keywords: leadership style; life history; life stories; principals; professional identity; structure and agency