The Person in Between: The Emotional Work of School Principals
The purpose of this study was to explore the emotional experiences of Saskatchewan school principals, and the efforts Saskatchewan principals take to process and manage these emotions; these efforts are known as emotional labour. Using an interpretivist approach, data were collected using semi-structured, informal online video interviews. Six participants, all current or recent Saskatchewan principals, were interviewed. There was significant variability in how these principals personally managed their emotions and emotional displays at work. This study found that participants identified nearly all parts of their days as requiring emotional effort; the majority of this effort was identified as relating to the emotions of others. Therefore, this study suggests an extension of the definition of emotional labour to include management not just of one’s own emotions but also the emotions of others. While this study was not specifically gendered, obvious gender norms were identified by participants. Participating principals indicated that traditionally masculine ways of showing or hiding emotion are favoured over feminine ways, regardless of the gender identity of the individual leader. These social rules significantly influenced the way participants managed their emotions in the workplace.
emotional labour, leadership, gendered leadership, principalship
Master of Education (M.Ed.)