The Continuing Quest to Understand Leadership Identity and Transformation

Year: 2016

Author: English, Fenwick, Ehrich, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Continuing Quest to Understand Leadership Identity and TransformationContemporary leadership standards as embodied in the Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles (AITSL,2015) explain what leaders are to do in professional settings. However, they are silent on how principals and leaders arrive at the point where they are competent to perform them. This hiatus remains a mystery and is underdeveloped in the entire standards movement.The proposed paper will summarize an initial three year research project which was conducted in Australia and America to understand the process by which leaders became competent using a frame from the arts involving the work of Elliot Eisner (2002) on creativity, Shusterman’s (2000) concept of pragmatist aesthetics regarding living beauty, and John Dewey’s (1987) notion of “aesthetic naturalism”. These perspectives enabled the researchers to deal with emotion and intuition as part of a leader’s world, without having to fall into the trap of the objective/subjective binary which permitted some past researchers to consider a leader as only a decision-maker tied to rational choice economic models which were premised on the idea that people were only governed by the canons of logic apart from culture and context.The second part of this proposal is the explication of an heuristic framework that extends and expands the findings of the previous research. This framework represents an intersection of thinking regarding leadership as essentially a journey, a long standing metaphor in human development, and the criticality of developing an identity as part of that transformational journey. And both of these views intersect in the understanding of self, the most perilous and universal journey all humans undertake. These two perspectives are set within an aesthetic context because as Noe (2015) explains, “…art provides us an opportunity to catch ourselves in the act of achieving our conscious lives” (p. xii).Specifically the investigatory framework is posed as a kind of scaffolding to understand and link the universal leadership identity journey.References.Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2015). Australian professional standard for principals and the leadership profiles. Victoria, Australia: Education CouncilDewey, J. (1987). Late works of John Dewey. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Eisner, E. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven, CT” Yale University Press.Noe, A. (2015). Strange tools: Art and human nature. New York: Hill and Wang.Shusterman, R. (2000). Pragmatist aesthetics: Living beauty, rethinking art, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.