Leadership for Our Globalized, Diverse World
Leadership takes many forms and influences how people view themselves, the world and ultimately affects local and global progress. Traditionally, leadership was viewed as a system of hierarchy with an authority figure who dictated responsibilities and change. Many systems continue to use this traditional or transactional leadership model even though it is limited. Some of the significant drawbacks of this model is it does not empower collaboration, shared decision making or shared leadership. This often negatively affects almost all systems including Canada's education system. To improve systems, leadership models have expanded to include dozens of approaches that encompass different foci, but many have similar underpinnings or patterns. But which leadership model or models should be used?
Before enacting a leadership model, exploring knowledge of yourself, your context and other people in the context is important to successful implementation. This process often includes reflecting on ideas, values and confronting biases. “Research increasingly points to the capabilities and characteristics that define leaders, but until understanding of leadership also includes an understanding of the links between leaders and those led, the ability to lead in environments with conflicting purposes will be hampered” (Petersen, 1997, p.6). For this reason, Canadian leaders who reflect on their own culture and examine school and community cultures aid in understanding each school’s unique context. This enables educational leaders to uncover “the underground stream of norms, values, beliefs, traditions, and rituals that have built up over time as people work together, solve problems and confront challenges” (Peterson & Deal, 1998, p.28). Overall, through greater understanding, all leaders throughout the Canadian system can better facilitate shared understanding and development.
With increasing globalization leadership models should reflect the diverse needs of people in our education system, and the growing demands of a more globally connected world. Certainly, Canadian students will have to prepare for life beyond their own communities, so the meaningful inclusion of diverse values, knowledge, and skills in curricula and daily school life is imperative. To address students' diverse needs and meet the requirements of global participation, a combination of leadership models help to support educational improvement. However, a greater focus on models that promote transformation and inclusive practices is paramount.
Several models are useful in promoting inclusive practices and transforming education. Integrating the transformational, transformative and inclusive leadership are the three most effective models in promoting inclusion. They encompass democratic and moral values to develop school culture, address inequalities and actively involve all stakeholders in collaborative processes.
Transformational leadership improves school culture and creates a collaborative school vision, builds relationships and promotes community involvement. Building a positive school culture supports inclusion, and develops leadership based on deeper moral purposes like social justice. This empowers schools to do their part contributing to a world that is just for everyone (Ryan, 2006a ). “The focus on the moral purposes or ends of leadership has led to both transformational and transformative concepts [being central to progress]. It is patently obvious that both theories of leadership—transformational and transformative—have at their heart the notion of transforming or changing something” (Shields, 2010, p. 564).
Transformational Leadership in education was first developed by Bass (1984) and Leithwood (1994). If focuses on building shared commitments and organizational capacities (Leithwood & Duke, 1998). Bass conceptualizes the four components of transformational leadership (See the 4 I's) and Leithwood establishes that there are seven dimensions:
Bi and Ehrich (2012) characterized transformational leaders by their “risk taking, goal articulation, high expectations, emphasis on collective identity, self-assertion and vision” as well as their belief in social justice. They assert this leadership model encourages innovation, promotes creativity and uses a holistic perspective in understanding issues, questioning the status quo and approaches problems from different angles. Through transformational processes, collaboration improves with the development of professional learning communities (PLCs), and it addresses diversity to more effectively meet curriculum, social and educational needs.
It is commonly believed that a transformational leader, usually the principal, is solely responsible for changes occurring in schools, but this is only partially true. Transformational leadership requires the contributions of more than one individual for sustainable change. All stakeholders must be involved in learning and contributing to school development, including people within and beyond the school walls. This process creates an organizational positive, learning culture resulting in greater capacity building, inclusive practices and opportunities for affirmative action in schools and the community.
Transformational Leadership improves school culture
1. Create collaborative school mission and vision: work with stakeholders to define common values and then translate those into tangible behaviors and expectations. Modeled and demonstrated outside of the school.
2. Building relationships: Respectful and responsive to diversity. Look at the curriculum and resources and discuss issues of equity and social justice and own biases. Then create learning that is more accessible to students and involve students in the process.
3. Promote family and community engagement: considered key partners in meeting instructional and learning goals. Creates social center and empowerment in the community and greater support and accountability. Use feedback for continued improvement.
Source: Bronoso, V. (2014). Transformational Leader and Leadership
Alternatively, transformative leadership explicitly addresses inequalities, decontructs and reconstructs knowledge frameworks and redistributes power. Addressing inequalities supports inclusion because people challenge their biases, adjust their beliefs for social justice and "view leadership as a social practice aligned with democratic practices (Blackmore, 2011, p. 23).
James Macgregor Burns (1978), historian and scientist, was one of the first to write about leadership that transforms and results in "real change--that is, a transformation to the marked degree in the attitudes, norms, institutions, and behaviors that structure our daily lives (p. 414). Transformative leadership “must be critically educative; it can not only look at the conditions in which we live, but it must also decide how to change them” (Foster, 1986, p. 185). The eight key tenets of transformative leadership include (Shields, 2013, p.21).
“Transformative educational leadership begins by [questioning and] challenging inappropriate uses of power and privilege that create or perpetuate inequity and injustice” (Shields, 2010, p. 564). Educators and education leaders need to ask questions such as:
1. What is the purpose of education?
2. What ideas are being taught and how? What ideas are not being taught?
3. Who are our students? teachers? Parents and characteristics of our community?
4. Who is succeeding? Who is not succeeding? Why?
5. How can our school be more equitable?
Through critical dialogue, links between education and social context are made for the private and public good. Social structures such as capitalism, sexism, racism and homophobia are acknowledged, raising the consciousness of people, to transform schools and the community. Ultimately, individuals benefit including marginalized groups for greater prosperity and equity. Thus, "transformative leadership and leadership for inclusive and socially just learning environments are inextricably related (Shields, 2010, p.559).
This model of leadership addresses inequalities and ensures all stakeholders have the resources, tools and supports necessary for engaging in inclusive processes and products. Although, as Ryan (2006b) points out, there are few examples of transformative leadership in practice because leaders themselves may hold conservative views or the communities in which they serve. In fact, challenging the system can be unpredictable and lead to a myriad of negative consequences. However, with greater collaboration, collective dialogue, shared responsibility and accountability, school transformation for social justice is more likely to occur.
We need a better way to include others. Transformative leadership is inclusive and equitable.
1. Recognize inequalities and accept the need for change
2. Commit to making changes happen and have moral courage
3. Adjust attitudes, beliefs, values and assumptions
4. Deconstruct and eliminate deficit thinking, colorblind racism, classism and homophobia
5. Reconstruct knowledge frameworks and redistribute power equitably.
6. The focus on democracy, equity and social justice
7. Understand the private and public good in education
8. Focus on interdependence, interconnectiveness and global awareness.
Unlike, transformational and transformative leadership, inclusive leadership unquestionably supports inclusion, social justice and democratic processes. By promoting inclusion, social justice can be achieved if people are meaningfully included in practices and processes and use inclusion as a lens to address social justice issues (Ryan, 2006a). As Ryan (2006a) perceptively states, " [l]eadership is best seen not in terms of individuals but as a collective process (p. 9) where "everyone has a fair chance to influence decisions, practices and policies" (Ryan, 2006b, p. 17).
Notably, the process of inclusive leadership is more than gathering people together and having fair representation but a process and product of making significant systematic changes for equity. Ultimately, a more equitable system will transform the way people view each other. For instance, vertical relationship structures perpetuate bureaucracy and "power-over" whereas horizontal relationship structures promote adhocracy and shared power. There are seven main practices of inclusive leadership (Ryan, 2006):
1. Advocating for inclusion
2. Educating participants
3. Developing critical consciousness
4. Nurturing dialogue
5. Emphasizing student learning & classroom practices
6. Adopting inclusive decision and policy making strategies
7. Incorporating whole school approaches
To begin, this leadership model in schools, it requires the creation of an "inclusion group" who advocates for inclusion as a non-negotiable. Through capacity building, all stakeholders build and reflect on new knowledge, skills and attitudes about themselves and others in schools and the community. This is an essential step in developing trust, empathetic listening, critical consciousness and building cultural competency. These learning environments often include professional learning communities (PLCs) for school development and can foster critical conversations to uncover practices that impede inclusion. However, for PLCs to successfully focus on inclusion, schools should provide a framework such as guiding questions to make the invisible practices visible. Some of these questions may include:
Nurturing on-going dialogue about inclusive education and policies support stakeholders in collaborating, reflecting and developing inclusive values while improving the delivery of the curriculum for student learning (Ryan, 2006a). In the classroom, high expectations and meeting the needs of all students are central to student achievement. This means the curriculum should be culturally relevant, reflect the needs of all students and prepare students for local and global citizenship. To achieve inclusive education, school communication structures should be accessible for all stakeholders, so they are represented in school processes for greater inclusion, and social justice.
"The challenge of educational leadership is a moral and ethical endeavor seeking to achieve the best outcome in terms of knowledge management, well-being and intellectual growth" (Rayner, 2009). This endeavor requires ongoing reflection about the purpose of education and defining the desired outcome. It is paramount to remember that the aim of education is to realize the goal of eudemonia or the universal drive toward "the good." Thus, creating education for a more just world will benefit all and require inclusive practices while addressing social, cultural, political and financial inequalities. This means schools must shift focus from the majority to include the disadvantaged and marginalized in social processes for social justice. (Moore, 2016; Ryan, 2006b). To do so effectively, leaders should integrate transformational, transformative and inclusive leadership models to best support inclusion.
By combining these models, leaders can facilitate inclusion by developing positive organizational learning cultures that address inequalities to ensure systematic, equitable changes for the benefit of all. These inclusive processes and products involve stakeholders in meaningful ways to transform schools. Transforming schools will require a positive learning culture resulting in greater capacity building, inclusive practices and opportunities for social change. However, processes must be both inclusive and transformative to address inequalities so all stakeholders have the supports necessary to engage in meaningful ways. "In its more advanced or effective form, an inclusive leader aims to facilitate the transforming and transformative effect of learning in the work of making provisions for the most vulnerable in the learning community" (Rayner, 2009, p. 445). Therefore, leaders should be prepared for engaging with all stakeholders to create a positive organizational learning culture to addressing inequalities for social justice.
It is beneficial for leaders to prepare strategically to implement these leadership models for active student, teacher, administration, parent and community member engagement for the education of every student. For inclusion to occur meaningfully, leaders can help stakeholders develop relationships, build capacity about social justice and intentionally include stakeholders in inclusive processes and products. As leaders engage in this collective process, there are opportunities for modelling inclusion as well as active learning, critical dialogue, a growth mindset and providing opportunities for personal, professional and community development. In addition, the involvement of stakeholders in the classroom provides opportunities to utilize the strengths of all learners. Pedagogical approaches that foster new meanings about diversity and promote inclusive practices support critical dialogue, culturally relevant education, language development and authentic learning experiences to better connect schools to home life and the community (Riehl, 2000; Theoharis & O’Tool, 2011). Overall, transformational, transformative and inclusive leadership models provide the necessary framework for leaders to successfully embrace inclusion in their schools and communities for local and global progress.
Lisa Goolcharan, April 2017. Updated 2018
Are you an Inclusive Leader? by Catalyst. Can be used to reflect on inclusive or exclusive practices
Engaging All Learners by Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. Provides instructional leadership resources for creating inclusive environments and inspiring teacher and student success.
Social Transformation Project is a comprehensive resource including a variety of resources and tools including equity and inclusion tools for organizational and personal transformation.
Parent Involvement Toolkit by People for Education. Detailed Canadian resource. Includes content for parents, teachers and principals. Parent content is available in 6 languages. Also multimedia resources: slideshows, videos and webinars
Professional Learning Toolkit by K-12 Blueprint. Focused on building PLCs
PLC Digital Toolbox by Broward County Public Schools. Useful documents for PLC development and sustainability
Inclusive Education Canada. Provides news, current learning resources and ways to take action
Resource Toolkist by Everyone Matters Manitoba
Mind Tools includes many great resources especially their tools on learning , creativity, reducing stress and others. It includes many leadership tools that can be applied to a variety of settings.
Blackmore, J. (2011). Leadership in pursuit of purpose: Social, economic and political transformation. In C. M. Shields (Ed.), Transformative
leadership: A reader (pp. 21-366). New York: Peter Lang.
Bi, L., Ehrich, J., & Ehrich, L.C. (2012). Confucius as transformational leader: Lessons for ESL leadership. International Journal of Educational
Management, 26, 391-402. doi: 10.1108/09513541211227791
Foster, W. (1986). Paradigms and promises. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.
Leithwood, K, Begley, P. T, & Cousins, J.B. (1994). Developing expert leadership for future schools. London: Falmer.
Leithwood, K., & Duke, D.L. (1994). Mapping the conceptual terrain of leadership: A critical point of departure for cross-cultural studies. Peabody
Journal of Education, 77, 31-50.
Peterson, K, D. & Deal, T, E. (1998). How leaders influence the culture of schools. Educational Leadership, 56, 28-30.
Rayner, S. (2009). Educational diversity and learning leadership: A proposition, some principles and a model of inclusive leadership? Educational
Review, 61, 433-447.
Riehl, C. J. (2000). The principal's role in creating inclusive schools for diverse students: A review of normative, empirical, and critical literature on
the practice of educational administration. Review of Educational Research, 70, 5-81.
Ryan, J. (2006a). Inclusive leadership and social justice for schools. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 5, 3-17.
Ryan J. (2006b). Inclusive Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint.
Shields, C.M. (2010). Transformative leadership: Working for equity in diverse contexts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 46, 558-589.
Shields, C.M. (2013). Transformative Leadership in Education: Equitable Changes in an Uncertain and Complex World. New York, NY: Routledge.
Theoharis, G., & O'Toole, J. (2011). Leading inclusive ELL: Social justice leadership for English language learners. Educational Administration
Quarterly, 47, 646-688.
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Created, Designed, Developed and Written by Lisa Goolcharan
Created, Designed, Developed and Written by Lisa Goolcharan