Developing Leadership Identities: Influences on Emirati Graduate Students' Leadership Perspectives

Year: 2007

Author: Harold, Barbara

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The College of Education at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates has recently introduced a graduate program for a Master of Educational Leadership. The first cohort has almost completed the program and a new cohort has begun their study. During the program, graduate students were asked to identify and reflect on their current leadership perspectives and philosophies in the framework of their culture and religion. Through the process of identity development (Holland et. al. 1998; Ashforth, 2001) they attempted to merge their personal beliefs, value systems and tacit knowledge with explicit international best practice leadership theories. This paper compares and contrasts data from the first and second cohort to analyze how participants' identities of self as leaders emerged, and to discuss the extent to which the process 'proves' theories of the development of professional identity and simultaneously 'improves' understanding of leadership and their own practice. Islamic perspectives, home and family, leadership models ( e.g. situational, participative), and the importance of role models proved to have been critical in the development of their identities as educational leaders.