Relatively few people occupy formal leadership positions in their lives. Yet everyone must make decisions in the context of their different roles in life and different positions in society which will influence other people in their environment. Most South African primary schools have leadership models and appointment procedures which culminate in a "formal leadership crush" in the 12th and 13th year of the developing preadolescent. This period is described in literature as a critical development period and serves as a foundation for the forming of identity in the adolescent period which follows it. The purpose of this research is to investigate the appropriateness of existing leadership models for preadolescents in asocial context. Two leadership models are relevant. The first model is the traditional appointment of a core group of leaders for a period of a year, who must perform certain tasks. The second model developed in response to bigger pressure to democratize the leadership process in schools and assumed the form of a committee system. Learners are divided into committees, chairpersons and vice-chairpersons are elected and learners are jointly responsible for performing certain tasks. At the end of the year a core group of high-profile leaders are then appointed. A qualitative research method which follows an inductive, exploring approach was selected, because this method acknowledges the complexity of the phenomenon. Data was content-analytically processed by means of Atlas.ti. The application of different leadership models in the preadolescent development phase is a complex issue. The results indicate that children realize that competence, exemplariness, diligence, hard work, being reliable for teachers, performance and leadership qualities are less important than popularity, familiarity and acceptability among the peer group. In addition the election procedure is inconsequent, because children are brought under the impression that they are being identified as leaders, while at the same time there is a so-called "democratic" process over which children and teachers have no control. Leaders' primary tasks are supervision, discipline and the maintenance of order. This position implies the potential for conflict, because fellow learners are not recognized as authority figures and because the leaders also do not have enforceable authority. Formal leadership models also do not recognize the informal peer group ordering of the participants in the process, and inferiority and a feeling of disempowerment are the result of a situation where a formal role is assigned to someone who is not recognized in the group. The misfit between the demands which a social environment makes of children in the preadolescent development phase may possibly be the cause of the manner in which children's emotional, behavioral and social development disturbances manifest. Primary school leadership models as evaluated in this study, influence the development and end result of the spontaneous development of the preadolescent with regard to the physical, cognitive-moral and psycho-social development. The . compulsory participation in a leadership model in grade 7 has a disruptive and disturbing impact on the preadolescent's development. Proposals for the reviewing of leadership models include the establishment of structure, mentorship and personal involvement and supervision by teachers. That means that time and energy must be spent with the preadolescent, so that behavior and learning may take place by means of modeling and facilitation.
Thesis (PhD (Psychotherapy))--University of Pretoria, 2006.