A Metaphorical deconstruction of leadership standards: A cross cultural comparison between Australia and America

Year: 2016

Author: English, Fenwick, Ehrich, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Goethe once said, “All things are metaphors” (Campbell & Moyers, 1991, p. 286). This proposal is a cross cultural deconstruction and comparison of national leadership standards in two countries: Australia and America. Metaphors function positively and negatively. They have historically helped us to create meaning and understanding and to improve the act of leadership. They also can be used to manipulate, to close down serious thought, and to negate creativity.Metaphors work in human communication because they produce an effect by comparing two things that are simultaneously the same and different. This juxtaposition makes a reader or listener pause because the connection may produce uncertainty or even confusion. This cognitive gap may spur innovative thinking. The second use of the metaphor is that it creates a connection between the user and the recipient. This use of the metaphor functions as a kind of invitation to which the reader or listener must engage (Cohen, 1979). The bottom line for this deconstruction is to examine current leadership standards and to determine the hidden meanings behind their use.The national leadership standards of Australia (AITSL, 2014) and America (NPBEA, 2015) will be examined through the application of seven common types of metaphors to describe leadership. They are: (1) leadership as machine; (2) leadership as accounting; (3) leadership as war; (4) leadership as sport; (5) leadership as theatre; (6) leadership as religion; (7) leadership as lunacy (Lumby & English, 2010). This last metaphor is centered in the notion that sometimes actions which appear eminently rational to an individual decision maker are actually irrational. In such a situation irrational behavior is a form of insanity even if the individual involved may not be psychiatrically certified as insane. A second form of such lunacy occurs when a particular state of mind is present and actions are carried out in ways that are dysfunctional.The deconstruction will involve illustrating similarities and differences and relating both to wider cultural and political similarities and differences between the two countries.ReferencesAustralian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2014). Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles. Victoria, Australia.Campbell, J. & Moyers, B. (1991). The power of myth. New York: Anchor Books.Cohen, T. (1979). Metaphor and the cultivation of intimacy. In S. Sacks (Ed.), On metaphor (pp. 1-10). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Lumby, J. & English, F.W. (2010). Leadership as lunacy: And other Metaphors for Educational Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.National Policy Board for Educational Administration (2015). Professional standards for educational leaders. Reston, Virginia.