Towards the Eminent School: The importance of professional leadership

by Wayne Edwards

Overview

In this 2001 conference paper Associate Professor Wayne Edwards explores what it means to be a professional leader. He suggests that professional leadership in schools is characterised by a principal’s ability to successfully combine these four elements:

  • managing the business
  • working with people
  • guiding the curriculum
  • leading the school towards the future.

He notes that leading professionally across these areas cannot be achieved in isolation; principals need the collaboration and cooperation of the whole school community. To do this they have to look at creating partnerships with staff.

"… no one is ever likely to be the expert on everything. In my own case I constantly find that other people have the knowledge and skills which I don’t have and – more than ever – I readily seek that assistance and share the leadership task."

Committing to sharing leadership, Edwards comments, means that principals will need to examine and reflect on issues of power and status within the school.

This paper also looks at organisational culture and the importance of leaders reflecting on their practice.

Each section concludes with a series of helpful reflective questions, some of which are included below.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide your reading of this article:

  • How is leadership exercised in your school?
  • In which “team” solutions do you participate?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team(s)?
  • When do you think teamwork is not appropriate?
  • What issues surrounding power and status could emerge if you shared leadership in your school?

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