Authentic educational leadership


This report shall develop and justify a conceptual framework for authentic educational leadership. A critical response for the framework shall be presented which also combines my own personal experience, highlighting an experienced concern within authentic educational leadership. The framework shall be developed from a literature review on the topic

From initially looking at how leadership started the report shall identify common attributes of successful leadership. Ideas of Masculinity shall be investigated within the Australian experience and context as to identify the idea of leadership and how people think about what leadership really is. The importance and idea of the Myth of education leadership as well as promoting a strong vision for the institution shall also be investigated. The idea of transformational leadership and its importance within an education institution shall be examined. An ability to change not only as an individual leader but also internal and external factors will also be examined.


Leadership origins and common principals

Barker (2002) reminds us that long ago humans existed with simple needs. The idea of leadership evolved from the belief that there were more powerful people out there that were able to create outcomes that effect us. The leader evolved into someone who tells us what to do and how to act in order to achieve a desirable outcome. Conventional leadership teachings all agree that leaders should be able to motivate their followers to achieve organizational goals. Leadership is viewed as a person having an ability to supervise the activities of their team. These abilities included drive, motivation, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability and a sound understanding of the business organization. The source of leadership is assumed to be in a position of hierarchy in a social system. Barker (2002) also notes that even the most recent books on leadership no not deviate too much from these core principles despite their claims of new techniques and theories.

Survey results from studies by Barker (2002) asked respondents what their definition of leadership was. Only half the respondents thought that leadership was a skill. A similar result was found when surveying students on the same question. Despite the word itself implying a skill, like seamanship, or craftsmanship it can also imply a craft or a skill like the word musicianship


Barker notes that leadership is often defined by the ability for the leader to either effectively communicate, inspire and transform a team. Transformational leadership is concerned with the skill to promote initiative amongst the followers. On the question of measuring the success of leadership, Barker (2002) notes that conventional theories may be inadequate to answer and measure leadership effectiveness.


Unknown (200X), relates the accomplishment of masculinity to effective and successful corporate leadership within Australia. Australia has evolved its expectations of leadership from a hero centric point of view where the leader is recognized as a hero and someone who is tough. Unknown (200X) suggests that this may be due to even the convict society of the past which relied more on self reliance and not trust. Within Australian culture, sporting and sporting heroes are regarded as a test of masculinity often excluded by their absence of women. Combat as leadership is another example where leadership can be viewed as a male centric activity.

Unknown (200X) also indicates that we develop our ideas of what leadership is from an early age within schools, social networks and also our relationship with our family members. While transformational leadership involved the ability to change and manage teams dynamically, there is little interest in really wanting to change for Australian leaders according to Unknown (200X). There is the idea that manager jobs are regarded as heroes and the role is not able to be modified, often simply because the job must be viewed as an irreplaceable role that can only be done in a certain way. Unknown (200X) summarized that the heroic style of leadership is very resistant to change. Often associated with the leader is proof of a mans maleness. Hence until this aspect is more fully understood, change management and leadership can not be fully understood.

Life and work balance

Birch and Paul (2003) investigate the balance between life and work or in this case study. They note that dissatisfaction of the worker increases if the work impacts negatively on their private lives. If this was the case then the worker tended to become less efficient within their role. Birch and Paul (2003) discuss studies that show the balance tipping in favor of the working life. Many organizations mistakenly think that more hours will lead to better organizations and improved productivity yet this is not necessarily the case. Many organizations are still firing many workers in order for the work to be taken up by existing workers. Birch and Paul (2003) urge us to revolutionize and change the way organizations think and act. By thinking about the worker profits would still be able to be made but not at the cost of everything else. Within the educational sector there are common concerns if students are overwhelmed with work and information. The students are left regurgitating information rather than reflecting upon it and gaining a deeper understanding of the core issues.


Starratt (2003), indicates that educational leadership is unique among types of leadership approaches. One of the most important qualities of an educational leader is the idea of having vision. The leader should know the difference between the idea and also the reality of the school environment. In order to close this gap, educational leaders can use this tension creatively. The education should promote a two way conversation which is open to response. This in turn creates respect and also greater willingness to participate in the learning process. The leader should also be able to see the leadership role from many perspectives. Understanding the followers from many perspectives allows the leader to respond in varied ways. The leader should be able to give insight into the immediate while also promoting a sense of greater vision for the future.

Starratt (2003) suggests there are five basic principals of educational leadership. Firstly the leader should understand the basic foundations of people, society, the natural world and the institution. Secondly the leader should show motivation and have vision of what the educational institution should be. Thirdly information should be communicated articulately and promoted in a communal manner. Fourthly the leader should embrace the vision based on the goals, programs and organizational structures in place. Finally the leader should continually renew the vision and also be able to identify it in activities both small and large.

The Myth

Deal and Peterson (1999), discuss the importance of the myth surrounding an educational institution. The mythical side of the school creates the institutions anchor to promote a mission, purpose beliefs as well as school values. The mission of the school should motivate both staff and students to learn and teach. The mission must get to the core of what the school is about and not be overly complicated. It is also important to measure success within the institution and this may be done through achieving extra curricular success. It may also be done through performing well in class. While the teacher may be happy in presenting a particular topic, it may fall on deaf ears for particular students. Hence good teaching is only successful when class members learn. The mission of the school should accurately capture and define the outcomes for what are valued at the institution.

Deal and Peterson (1999) suggest that schools must recapture the magic and myth of education. They suggest that believing is seeing. The mission, assumptions, values, beliefs and things that people expect can encourage cultural vitality and stability to the educational organization. Be having and promoting a sense of myth to education it can create a greater sense of community which will enable each student to realize their potential.

Leadership Characteristics

Kouzes and Posner (2004) discuss five practices of exemplary leadership. These are to model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and also encourage the heart. A good leader should be able to identify their personal values in order to express their opionion based on personal values. By promoting a shared vision the lead is able to enlist others in discussions and encourage shared goals and aspirations. The leader should realize that there is not a single way to present and learn about an issue. Taking risks is often the only way to learn by learning what what works best in different situations. By engaging others to act the leader encourages and strengths others by building trust. To encourage long term goals the leader should recognize the community of the team and celebrate differences and similarities within the team. Kouzes and Posner (2004) also suggest that the leader should really live the life that the preach. My being genuine and honest to students will encourage a greater sense of community and improve the learning process by encouraging students to make a contribution.

Ability to change

Sashkin (2004) investigate transformational leadership approaches and how effective leaders are able to change organizational culture. By identifying areas of needed change it creates a sense of crisis to further motivate the team. The need for change is also important in order to follow the students needs. By encouraging open class discussion it can further motivate class members and also may promote them to empower themselves. Then the students are in a better position to buy into the vision promoted by the leader

While Sashkin (2004) notes that there are many definitions of leadership there are however many similarities which take two basic forms. The first form consists of three basic aspects. These are the leader behavior, the personal characteristics of the leader and also the context of the leadership. The second form brings together consistencies across most approaches. These are personal skills, behavioral skills and also the contextual similarities. Sashkin (2004) has tried to bring together the common elements of transformational leadership although acknowledges that further research is required to confirm the similarities between the many theoretical models.

Ways to transformational leadership

Giancola and Hutchison (2005) discuss ways to transform the culture of school leadership. Through focus group studies they identify some key outcomes within this area. Firstly the leader should put aside their individual agendas in order to promote the interest of the entire group. Secondly there needs to be compassion involved and the flow of communication needs to be free and open. The leader should bring people together to realize a common purpose and be able to bring everyone together to work together. If there are problems then they should be approached collectively as a group. The leader and students should be able to disagree in order to open lines of communication. By acknowledging disagreements it can open channels of communication that can further enhance the learning experience. The leader should be open to learning from the student and not merely as a dictator. Advice from student to the leader should also be able to be taken and considered. The leader should ask motivating questions and provide time for feedback and contemplation. Leaders should always be asking themselves how they can help the student further and be able to change their leadership approach based on their followers. Leaders should not make decisions alone but seek honest dialog from concerned parties. The leader should provide feedback from student suggestions and appreciate the information offered by the students. The leader should ask for opinions from the students but be careful not to just dismiss it but rather respond to it. Leaders should be able to adapt their leadership approach and go after alternative solutions. They may be done by seeking out expertise within given areas and asking for feedback from students.

Dawson (2003) details the need to understand organizational change. There are both internal and external pressures for change. External factors include government laws and regulations, globalization, political and social events, technology implications, organizational growth and changes in business cycles. Interior influences include technology, changing tasks for the organization, the management of employees or students and internal administrative structures.

Dawson (2003) shows us that during these times the world of work and employment and study is changing. It is crucial that the key skill of flexibility within the leader is an essential skill to have.


Begley (2004), emphasize the importance of differentiating between understanding and responding to ethical problems within the educational school environment. Ethical problems may be solved by having a leader that is able to be sensitive and responsive to team members for the given circumstance and context. Shapiro and Stefkovich (2001) also look at ethics in terms of a profession and that of an educational leader. They advocate ethics should be an important consideration in educational decision making and leadership.

Emotional intelligence

Tomlinson (2004) points out that an effective leader should have and display emotional intelligence. By being able to perceive, understand and manage peoples feelings a better educational environment can be achieved. By having an emotionally rich management team it can promote the identification of the individual, maximize the benefits for both students and teachers, promote loyalty to the school and reveal and reward individual strengths, achievements and accomplishments. The educational institution should aim to attract candidates that are on top of their emotions and feelings which are inline with the emotional capital of the school. This in turn can directly influence the success of the education institution. Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee(2002) also agrees that emotional intelligence is essential for the modern day educational leader. Murphy (200X) stress the important of the educational leader identifying the social conditions and their effect on the school environment. An effective educational leader needs to also take into account the social environment and settings of the students.

My Personal experience

From my experience as a student I can directly relate to the issues raised from my literature review. My willingness to participate has always been greater when the leadership has been more open and willing to listen to student opinions. When the leadership promotes greater respect for the audience he or she is speaking to, it creates a greater sense of community within the classroom. Also my having a leader who is passionate about the class and believes in the school principles, motivation levels are increased not only for myself but also for the entire class.


In summary my conceptual framework for an authentic educational leadership would consist of the key themes identified in this report which lead to more effective and authentic educational leadership.

Firstly as indicated by Barker (2002), there are reoccurring themes common between many areas of leadership studies. These common goals such as drive, motivation, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability and a sound understanding of the school organization are all very important.

The very ideas of leadership such as masculinity and hero status are not ideals suited to any dynamic form of leadership and are not recommended for a successful education framework as they do not encourage a sense of team nor encourage a two way conversation process.

The educational leader must not overburden their students with information as this can lead to reduced performance and a lesser understanding of the information.

The framework should have strong vision from the leader in order to encourage a greater sense of community and student participation in the learning process as indicated by Starratt (2003).

Most importantly the leader should be a transformational leader who is capable of change and able to adapt to different styles of leadership most suited to the team of students.


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  • Begley, P, T. (2004). Understanding Valuation Processes: Exploring the Linkage Between Motivation and Action. ISEA, 32(2):4-17
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  • Shapiro, J, P., Stefkovich, J, A. (2001). Ethical Leadership and Decision making in education. Applying Theoretical Perspectives to Complex Dilemmas. London. Mahwah publishers. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
  • Starratt, R. (2003). The challenging work of educational leadership. Centering educational administration: Cultivating meaning, community, responsibility. 3-26. Mahwah. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
  • Tomlinson, H. (2004). Emotional intelligence. Educational leadership: Personal growth from professional development. 22-32 London, Sage Publications.

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