Stress as a factor in the high school principalship

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University of Cape Town

An important facet of a person's self-concept is his expectations of his performance. If his expectations are excessively high and there is a significant gap between his aspirations and his accomplishments, the resulting sense of failure has a negative effect on his self-concept. It is likely that school principals, because of the idealism and sense of calling that is associated with human service professions, are particularly vulnerable to excessive self-expectations. Cherniss believed this to be a potential stressor because the threat of failure has more serious personal consequences for people who regard their work as a calling rather than a job. For those who view their work as a calling, their identity and self-esteem are related to a considerable extent to the successful accomplishment of their work. Dobson pointed to the dangers of achievement anxiety, manifested as a pervasive fear of failure, for 'perfectionists' who set unreasonably high standards which are beyond their capabilities. Levinson regarded intense self-criticism and internal dissatisfaction as part of the make-up of dynamic, motivated business executives, making them exceptionally vulnerable to feelings of failure.

Bibliography: leaves 162-170.