e-ISSN 2231-8534
ISSN 0128-7702

Home / Regular Issue / JSSH Vol. 31 (4) Dec. 2023 / JSSH-8785-2022


Professional Leadership Competencies for Malaysian Educational Middle Leaders

Sukor Beram, Marinah Awang, Ramlee Ismail, Ramesh Ram Ramalu, Norzalina Noor, Soo May Yoong, Fanny Chee Yuet Kho and Aziah Samichan

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 31, Issue 4, December 2023


Keywords: Fuzzy Delphi Method, middle leaders, professional leadership competencies

Published on: 13 December 2023

The quality of education is heavily influenced by the professionalism of teachers and the effectiveness of educational leadership. Previous studies have examined educational leadership, and most concentrate on the roles of principals and head teachers. There is a need to delve into a more comprehensive examination of leadership by middle leaders who served as the backbone of the educational system to improve the education quality in the country. Thus, this study aims to establish a consensus among experts regarding the construct of professional leadership competencies for middle leaders in matriculation colleges, employing the Fuzzy Delphi Method (FDM). An instrument comprising elements related to professional leadership competencies was administered to a panel of 30 experts from diverse fields. The study’s outcomes reveal the agreement among expert panels concerning the proposed constructs and elements of professional leadership competencies. All 13 elements met the condition of d ≤ 0.2, achieving expert agreement exceeding 75% with values ranging from 93% to 100%. The alpha-cut values also exceeded 0.5 (α-cut ≥ 0.5), ranging from 0.886 to 0.940. Through the defuzzification process facilitated by FDM, all elements were ranked according to the hierarchy established by the experts. This study introduced a novel construct related to professional leadership competencies, specifically to educational middle leaders.

  • Adler, M., & Ziglio, E. (1996). Gazing into the oracle: The Delphi method and its application to social policy and public health. Jessica Kingsley Publisher.

  • Bassett, M., & Shaw, N. (2018). Building the confidence of first-time middle leaders in New Zealand primary schools. International Journal of Educational Management, 32(5), 749-760.

  • Beram, S., Awang, M., & Ismail, R. (2020). Pembangunan model kompetensi pemimpin pertengahan: Satu kajian reka bentuk dan pembangunan [Development of a mid-level leader competency model: A design and development study]. Journal of Research and Indigenous Studies, 2(1), 132-144.

  • Beram, S., Awang, M., Ismail, R., & Noor, N. (2021). Application of the Fuzzy Delphi Method to organizational leadership competencies for educational middle leaders. Management Research Journal, 10, 82-93.

  • Beram, S., Awang, M., Ismail, R., Noor, N., Gengtharan, K., & Fuad, M. S. R. D. (2022). Personal leadership competencies of Malaysia Matriculation College middle leaders. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education (IJERE), 11(3), 1617-1624.

  • Bhattacharyya, E. (2019). Leadership competencies and leadership style in aspiring cluster schools of excellence. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 27(2), 1111-1129.

  • Boyatzis, R. E. (1982). The competent manager: A model for effective performance. Wiley.

  • Boyatzis, R. E. (2011). Managerial and leadership competencies: A behavioral approach to emotional, social and cognitive intelligence. Vision: The Journal of Business Perspective, 15(2), 91-100.

  • Boyatzis, R., & Ratti, F. (2009). Emotional, social and cognitive intelligence competencies distinguishing effective Italian managers and leaders in a private company and cooperatives. Journal of Management Development, 28(9), 821-838.

  • Branson, C. M., Franken, M., & Penney, D. (2016). Middle leadership in higher education: A relational analysis. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 44(1), 128-145.

  • Chang, P. L., Hsu, C. W., & Chang, P. C. (2011). Fuzzy Delphi method for evaluating hydrogen production technologies. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 36(21), 14172-14179.

  • Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2018). Research method in education (8th ed.). Routledge Taylor & Francis.

  • Deli, A. A. A. (2018). Development of a standard model of competency for teachers in the right subjects in Malaysia [Doctoral dissertation, The National University of Malaysia]. Malaysian Thesis Online.

  • De Nobile, J. (2017) Towards a theoretical model of middle leadership in schools. School Leadership & Management, 38(4), 395-416. 1411902

  • Ding, J., Kuo, J., & Tai, W. (2019). A fuzzy evaluation model of choosing a middle manager for an international shipping service provider. Brodogradnja, 70(1), 93–107.

  • Effendy, J. S. (2015). Sistem pengukuran prestasi, kompetensi, kepuasan kerja dan prestasi pensyarah university penyelidikan awam di Malaysia [Performance measurement system, competence, job satisfaction and performance of lecturers at public research universities in Malaysia] [Doctoral dissertation, Sultan Idris Education University]. Malaysian Academic Library Institutional Repository.

  • Ekaterini, G. (2011). A qualitative approach to middle managers’ competencies. Management Research Review, 34(5), 553–575.

  • Grootenboer, P. (2018). The practices of school middle leadership. Springer Link.

  • Gurr, D. (2018). School middle leaders in Australia, Chile and Singapore. School Leadership & Management, 39(3-4), 1-19.

  • Hargreaves, A., Shirley, D. L., Wangia, S., & Chang-Bacon, C. K. (2018). Leading from the middle: Spreading learning, well-being and identity across Ontario. Council of Ontario Directors of Education Report.

  • Harris, A., Jones, M., Adams, D., & Cheah, K. (2018). Instructional leadership in Malaysia: A review of contemporary literature. School of Leadership & Management, 39(1), 76-95.

  • Harris, A., Jones, M., Ismail, N., & Nguyen, D. (2019). Middle leaders and middle leadership in schools: Exploring the knowledge base (2003-2017). School Leadership & Management, 39(3-4), 255-277.

  • Hassan, M. K. N., Ibrahim, A. B., & Yaakub, M. N. (2018). Fuzzy Delphi analysis of the main constructs of the e-TVET teaching model for mechanical and manufacturing courses at vocational colleges. Journal of Information System and Technology Management, 3(10), 20-33.

  • Intang, C., & Shariff, S. M. (2019). The impact of personality, skills, core competency levels, professional training and transformation strategies of administrators’ professional practices on teacher commitment in secondary schools in Sabah. Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 4(6), 193-203.

  • Irvine, P., & Brundrett, M. (2016). Middle leadership and its challenges. Management in Education, 30(2), 86-92.

  • Irvine, P., & Brundrett, M. (2017). Negotiating the next step. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 47(1), 74-90.

  • Ismail, R., Abdul Rahman, S. A., & Awang, M. (2018). Kos ketidakberadaan guru dalam bilik darjah: Kajian kes di Daerah Muallim, Perak [A study of the cost of teacher absence in the classroom: A case study in Muallim District, Peral]. Management Research Journal, 7(1), 75-85.

  • Jones, H., & Twiss, B. L. (1978). Forecasting technology for planning decisions. PBI Publisher.

  • Junaidah, H., & Saodah, W. (2013). Competence, performance and trainability of orders workers of higher educational institutions in Malaysia. Journal of Communication Management, 17(2), 100-121.

  • Kaufmann, A., & Gupta, M. M. (1988). Fuzzy mathematical models in engineering and management science. North-Holland.

  • Lan, M. T., & Hung, T. H. (2018). The leadership competency in Vietnam Public Administration. Organizations and Market in Emerging Economies. 9(1), 8–20.

  • Leithwood, K. (2019). Leadership development on a large scale: Lessons for long-term success. Corwin.

  • McKenzie, J., & Varney, S. (2018). Energizing middle managers’ practice in organizational learning. The Learning Organization, 25(6), 383-398.

  • Ministry of Education. (2013). Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

  • Mohamad Yusoff, Z. J., Don. Y., & Ismail, S. N. (2014). Kompetensi emosi pemangkin keberkesanan amalan kepimpinan guru [Emotional competence as a catalyst for the effectiveness of teacher leadership practices]. Jurnal Kepimpinan Pendidikan, 1(3), 1-13.

  • Murray, T., Papino, L., Van, G., & John, P. (1985). A pilot study of Fuzzy set modification of Delphi. Human System Management, 5(1), 76-80.

  • Musa, K., & Halim, H. A. (2015). Teacher interpersonal skills and their relationship with student academic achievement. Malaysian Journal of Education, 40(2), 89-99.

  • Razak, N. A. (2015). Principal’s instructional leadership skills and teachers’ work motivation level. Educational Leader, 3, 88-106. /article/view/20749

  • Prasertcharoensuka, T., Somprachb, K., & Ngang, T. K (2015). Influence of teacher competency factors and students’ life skills on learning achievement. Procedia Social and Behavioral Science, 186, 566-572.

  • Ragin, C. C. (2007). Qualitative comparative analysis using fuzzy sets (fsQCA). In B. Rihoux, & C. Ragin (Eds.), Configurational Comparative Methods: Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and Related Techniques (pp. 87-121). SAGE Publications, Inc.

  • Rami, A. A. M., Aziz, M. F. A., Nasharudin, N. A. M., & Mohd Rasdi, R. (2021). Characteristics and success factors of rural community leadership in Malaysia: A focus group analysis. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 29(3), 1591-1609.

  • Razak, A. M. (2017). The construction and validation of the competency model for senior administrative and academic assistant teachers in Malaysian secondary schools. [Unpublished doctoral’s dissertation]. Sultan Idris Education University.

  • Richey, R. C., & Klein, J. (2014). Design and development research. In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. Elen, & M. J. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of Research on educational communications and technology (pp. 141-150). Springer Link.

  • Richey, R. C., & Klein, J. (2007). Design and development research: Methods, strategies and issues. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Jamil, M. R. M., Siraj, S., Hussin, Z., Noh, N. M., & Sapar, A. A. (2014). Basic Introduction to Fuzzy Delphi Method in Development Design. Minda Intelek Agensi.

  • Roselena, M. & Mohd Izham, M. Z. (2015). Kepimpinan berkualiti: Perspektif mengenai kompetensi yang diperlukan untuk memimpin dengan berkesan [Quality leadership: Perspectives on the competencies required to lead effectively]. Jurnal Pengurusan, 45, 143-154.

  • Rossett, A. (1987). Training needs assessment. Educational Technology Publication.

  • Siraj, S., Abdullah, M. R. T. L., & Rozkee, R. M. (2020). Design and development research approach. UPSI Publisher.

  • Siraj, S., Alias, N., DeWitt, D., & Hussin, Z. (2013). Design and development research: Emergent trends in educational research. Pearson Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.

  • Siraj, S., & Ibrahim, M. S. (2012). Malaysian teacher competency standards. Proceedings of the 2012 IPTS Council of Deans of Education National Seminar (pp. 1-44). Universiti Malaya.

  • Skulmoski, G., Hartman, F. T., & Krahn, J. (2007). The Delphi method for graduate research. Journal of Information Technology Education, 6, 1-21.

  • Slocum, Jr. J. W., Jackson, S. E., & Hellriegel, D. (2008). Competency-based management, Thompson South Western.

  • Spencer, M. L., & Spencer, S. (1993). Competence at work, models for superior performance. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

  • Stogdill, R. M. (1974). Handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. Free Press.

  • Tay, H. Y., Tan, K. H. K., Deneen, C. C., Leong, W. S., Fulmer, G. W., & Brown, G. T. L. (2019). Middle leaders’ perceptions and actions on assessment: The technical, tactical and ethical, School Leadership & Management, 40(1), 45-63.

  • Teacher Professionalism Division. (2023). Standard guru Malaysia 2.0 [Malaysian Teacher Standards 2.0]. Ministry of Education Malaysia.

  • Tengku Shahdan, T. N. (2016). Reka bentuk model kompetensi kerja staf akademik Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Swasta Malaysia [The design of a work competency model for the academic staff of Malaysian Private Higher Education Institutions] [Doctoral dissertation, Universiti of Malaya]. UM Students’ Repository.

  • Thornton, K., Walton, J., Wilson, M., & Jones, L. (2018). Middle leadership roles in universities: Holy grail or poisoned chalice. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 40(3), 208-223.

  • Thorpe, A., & Garside, D. (2017). (Co)meta-reflection as a method for the professional development of academic middle leaders in higher education. Management in Education, 31(3), 111–117.

  • Wei, Y. C. (2018). The department chair’s troubles: Leadership role of middle managers. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 21(4), 100–111.

  • Yoong, S. M., Ahmad, N. A., Anal, A., Beram, S., Gengatharan, K., Yasin, A. A., Noor, N., Ramalu, R. R., & Senin, N. (2022). Application of Fuzzy Delphi Method in evaluating the content of Dyscalculia Module. In T. S. A. S. Ahmad (Ed.), Driving creativity and innovation in global crisis (pp. 61-67). MNNF Publisher.

  • Zadeh, L. A. (1965). Fuzzy sets. Information and Control, 8(3), 338–353.

ISSN 0128-7702

e-ISSN 2231-8534

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Related Articles