Questioning the notion of 'authentic' leadership in education: The perspectives of 'followers'

Year: 2008

Author: Smith, Richard, Bhindi, Narottam, Hansen, Jens, Riley, Dan, Rall, Johan

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Authentic leadership is emerging as an alternative perspective on leadership in different organisational settings including education (Bhindi & Duignan, 1997). The authors will draw upon the existent research and commentary on authentic leadership and its relevance to leaders engaged in human service organisations, especially in the field of Education. Notions of authentic leadership are to be found in the disciplines of Nursing, Human Resources and Business and Organisational Development. However, missing/unacknowledged dimensions of the current leadership literature will also be identified with respect to authenticity. For example often the literature is about authentic leadership from the perspectives of leaders themselves, rather than from the perspectives of the 'followers'. A rationale for this research project is presented outlining the need for empirical research from the viewpoints of practitioner-educators (teachers) as 'followers' of authentic leaders. The proposed research methodology is outlined which includes a blend of survey data and focus groups, which the researchers intend to map teacher (i.e. 'follower') perceptions of authentic leaders. Specifically, we want to determine the dynamics needed to promote authentic rather than 'contrived collegiality' (Hargreaves, 1994). It is contended that authentic leaders will empower communities of learners through the creation of vibrant, safe, fulfilling schools.

Keywords: educational leadership; educational policy; schools; ‘authenticity’