Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Directing Energy: Leadership Supportiveness (Aspects of Culture and Climate, Part 4 of 8)

Shayna Pond | Published: May 13th, 2024 by K20 Center


Some leadership practices feel as if they add to work demands, while others become a resource that lightens the weight of those demands. When leaders are supportive and have built trust-filled relationships with their staff, performance effort and quality increase. This professional learning session is part of a series that explores the eight aspects of organizational culture and climate measured by K20's research-based survey. Participants look at the research factors relating to goals, supports, and structure and then reflect on the data collected from their school survey and identify strategies to help their school improve in this area.

Essential Question

How do leadership practices impact employee engagement within an organization?

Learning Goals

  • Explore research-based characteristics of leadership supportiveness.

  • Analyze survey constructs and data in the context of their organization.

  • Apply strategies to their role within their team and organization.







Materials List

  • Presentation Slides

  • Magnetic Statements posters (attached; print and hang around room)

  • Directing Energy Research Brief (attached; print one per participant)

  • Job Demands/Resources Model handout (attached; print one per participant)

  • Job Demands/Resources Example/Non-example worksheet (attached; print one per participant)

  • Chart paper

  • Markers

  • Sticky notes


10 Minute(s)

Introduce the session with the Presentation Slides. Start by displaying the essential question on slide 3 and remind participants that this session is intended to be a primer in the research constructs that informed the culture/climate survey they recently took. We will look at the data and explore strategies for better understanding and improving outcomes related to leadership supportiveness.

Display slide 4. Have participants stand up and walk around the room reading the Magnetic Statements posters with quotes on the various purposes/values of goals. Each participant should select the one that they are most drawn to. If you are worried about distribution, limit the number of how many participants can stand at each poster.

While standing in their group at their poster, ask participants to share out why they chose this quote and generally discuss the quote and what it says to them about the value of goals.

Then display slide 5. Have a representative from each group read their quote to the whole room and provide a 30-Second Expert summary of what their group talked about in relation to the quote. As each group shares, have them display the slide with their quote for the rest of the room to see (slides 6-9). After all groups have shared, ask participants to return to their seats.

Display the objectives on slide 10 and briefly go over the goals for this session.


20 Minute(s)

Next, display slide 11 and hand out the Directing Energy Research Brief. Provide time for participants to read through and take notes as they read. Each participant should come up with a Point of Most Significance (POMS) that is their big takeaway from the research. Have them share their POMS with their table group.

Display slide 12, which shows a diagram of the job demand-resources model. Explain the model briefly and how job satisfaction, climate/culture, and organizational outcomes are related to the balance of demands and resources that each organization’s employees feel from day to day in their job. Managing this balance is key to improving the work environment.

The Job Demand-Resources Model is a common framework for research on organizational climate/community. The basic concept is that job resources (emotional, organizational, social, etc.) increase motivation and commitment where job demands in these same areas lead to burnout, stress, and reduced well-being. The overall sense of job satisfaction and improved organizational outcomes in terms of performance and culture are about the balance between these two things. Demands exist and will happen, but resources moderate and buffer the negative impact they have if the resources are adequate or outweigh the demands. 


20 Minute(s)

Move to slide 13 and hand out the Job Demands-Resources Examples/Non-examples worksheet. Before beginning to work at a table, ask a volunteer to provide an example of a resource as a means to get ideas going and provide feedback before the next activity. Preface the activity with a verbal notice that there are demands that can’t be changed sometimes related to policy, laws, etc. For this activity, we want to look for the ones that we can have some impact on. Transform demands into resources by asking for what is needed.

Show slide 14, then ask participants to work as a table group to generate examples and non-examples for each category provided:  

  • Social

  • Job design 

  • Organizational leadership

  • Professional development 

  • Personal 

After the group work is complete, ask each group to share out one resource from the list they generated at their table.


20 Minute(s)

Pull up slide 15 and ask participants to access both infographics and take a few moments to just look at the data and what it says objectively for now. Point out that they might notice that a lot of these scales are about goal alignment even when it’s not explicitly labeled “goals.” That’s why we started where we did with the Magnetic Statements activity today.

Number the participants into groups. Consider how many groups you will need so there’s no more than five people per group.

As participants arrange themselves into their numbered groups, provide each group with chart paper and a marker. Display slide 16 and direct participants to use this image as a guide to make a Frayer Model on their chart paper.

  1. In the center, write the name of the data construct being analyzed.

  2. On the top left corner, write objective observations about the data. (What does it say?)

  3. In the top right corner, write ideas for what we as a school can do to improve this area (keep doing, start doing?).

  4. In the bottom left corner, write ideas for what your department/team can do to improve this area (keep doing, start doing?).

  5. In the bottom right corner, write ideas for what you can do personally to improve this area (keep doing, start doing?).

Provide time for each group to look at the data and fill in the boxes for their Frayer Model.


15 Minute(s)

Move on to slide 17 and hand out sticky notes to each group. Have the groups walk clockwise in a Gallery Walk around the room to spend a few minutes at each of the other groups’ Frayer Model poster.

As a group, add a sticky note to each poster with a reaction or reflection, such as:

  • Which idea do you support most?

  • What additional ideas do you have?

  • What questions do you have?

When all the groups have returned to their original poster, ask each group to share one thing from their poster that they feel was the most beneficial insight.

Research Rationale

Leadership makes a vital contribution to an organization’s culture and climate. Our leaders are the influencers and guides who form the organization's overall strategy, hiring practices, and working systems (Thummers et al., 2021). They facilitate the formation of our goals and guide our efforts toward these shared outcomes. The influence of leaders has both a direct and indirect effect on how the resources and demands of work impact employee engagement and work performance quality (Tummers et al., 2021; Albrecht et al., 2018; Ogbonnaya & Valizade, 2018). Four facets that can help us understand how to better facilitate a positive climate around the direction of work are as follows: (1) goal clarity and strategic alignment; (2) clear feedback & communication; (3) supportive leadership practices; and (4) human resources.


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  • Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2007). The job demands-resources model: State of the art. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(3), 309–328.

  • Forbes Councils Expert Panel®. (2023, January 12). Council post: How to effectively communicate company goals with your employees. Forbes.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). 30-Second expert. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Frayer model. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.) Gallery walk / carousel. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Magnetic statements. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Points of most significance. Strategies.

  • Ogbonnaya, C., & Valizade, D. (2018). High performance work practices, employee outcomes and organizational performance: A 2-1-2 multilevel mediation analysis. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29(2), 239–259.

  • Rouleau, K. (2021). Balanced leadership for student learning: A 2021 update of McREL's research-based school leadership development program. McREL International.

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  • Tummers, L. G., & Bakker, A. B. (2021). Leadership and job demands-resources theory: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

  • Walden, J., Jung, E. H., & Westerman, C. Y. K. (2017). Employee communication, job engagement, and organizational commitment: A study of members of the Millennial Generation. Journal of Public Relations Research, 29(2–3), 73–89.