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 School Improvement:  Leadership
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Leadership is often understood as a role with the reference to some of military achievement or epic group journey. The result is a tendency to leadership being about inspirational examples backed by command and control. 


Roles and relationships exist on a spectrum


Roles <---------------------------------------> Relationships

Assigned to the individual

Defined by tasks

Enacted by actions

Action: 'Working on' others

Hierarchical or parallel

Relatively fixed


Managed by the parties

Defined by shared purposes

Enacted by contributions

Action: 'working with' others


Dynamic and interactive



In this sense leadership is better thought of as a aspect of working relationships. It is exercised according to shared or agreed purposes and capability rather than office.


Leadership as a role is not an appropriate notion for educational leadership except in the very short term. When leadership is exercised as role in education its prime purpose should be to the achieve the conditions where working relationships are effective: that is people are working together and are contributing to the achievement of their individual and shared purposes.


Leadership as a relationship is more appropriate in an educational context. It

  • maximises the contributions made by all parties

  • helps to ensure the best sharing of responsibility between all parties

  • models the main purposes of education itself, viz,

    • that a person is better able to contribute to their own well-being throughout thier lifetime, and,

    • that a person is better able to contribute to the well-being of those with whom they share their lives