Educational Leadership: Personal Growth for Professional Development


Harry Tomlinson

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    With thanks for personal support from Berry, Kate (and Nodd), and Bob for keeping asking.

    Series Editor's Preface

    I am delighted to celebrate the arrival of another book by Harry Tomlinson, for the BELMAS series of books. In it he discusses how important it is that leaders of educational organizations know themselves in order to be successful. How that process of self-knowing can be undertaken is carefully developed in the first six chapters through discussion of a variety of approaches for this. Clearly the pagan oracle at Delphi was sharper at developing resourceful humans than have been many modern secular perspectives on leadership and management. It, too, recognized the importance of people understanding how they related to the cultures and systems of the communities in which they worked, especially if they wanted to be successful leaders. It, too, encouraged people to understand themselves, their emotions, their strengths and weaknesses, and their values and the quality of their communications with other members of their communities, in order for them to be successful as leaders.

    Harry, however, uses a different process from the smells and incantations of the oracle to gain and offer insight into the complexities of human interactions in educational organizations although he, too, recognizes the importance of leaders offering counselling, coaching and mentoring to help their colleagues develop creativity. This, he argues, is necessary to support the quest of staff for innovation and change to cope with the impact of alterations in the contexts of their schools and colleges on the ways in which they work. Six chapters consider ways in which leaders can support the professional development of their colleagues. In drawing on an extensive and up to date literature from business management as well as from educational management on personal and professional development and the implementation of change in schools and colleges, he shows how the priestly class of leaders at institutional and middle level can develop particular organizational cultures and sub-cultures to project their core values and shape the working environments of a school or college for staff and students. These values he argues are particularly visible in the visions projected by leaders to guide the missions of their schools and colleges, and in the systems and organizational structures that are established and maintained in them.

    Learning is placed at the centre of personal and professional development and so at the fulcrum of organizational development: processes of individual and institutional change require participants to learn and to act within consciously rather than tacitly understood value frameworks and social, economic and political contexts. Those cultures (value systems and their manifestations) and practices that are more able to cope with ambiguity seem to help their participants accommodate to change more smoothly. Seven chapters consider the processes of change as they have been debated by a variety of recent scholars. Implicit in these and in some of the other chapters are the asymmetrical power relationships in schools and colleges between leaders at all levels and other staff and students, and the ability of successful leaders to project power effectively in order to bring about change.

    This learning is, however, of a self-reflective nature that invites the actors in schools to consider their actions in their current contexts in order to resolve how to improve the quality of schooling to benefit all participants. The structure of the book reflects this concern with active learning, spattering the text with a series of questions as well as lists of actions which readers might undertake, to encourage readers to juxtapose critically their learning from engaging with the text with current practices in their schools and colleges.

    It is perhaps fitting that the book should close with a chapter on one of the great conundrums of working life: sustaining a balance between work and life. And it is intriguing that the chapter places these notions in contradiction with each other rather than considering work as part of life. This chapter seems peculiarly apt, but offers no solutions except for people to tune into their values, at a time in English society when the importance of people's dedication to the pursuit of organizational goals has been emphasized by central government and private industry, heedless of people's personal and social needs or of the needs of others in their role sets outside the compass of the organizations for which they work. We have all suffered in this period from the impact of this individualist neo-liberal ideology destroying notions of community and social life and replacing values of collaboration and shared decision-making in pursuit of agreed common goals with ones of aggressive competition to generate increasing individual wealth regardless of the needs of those people lacking in sufficient social, personal or intellectual capital to compete effectively.

    So it is of great value that this book reminds readers that there is more to living than work and that successful adaptation to changing circumstances, at least in educational organizations, depends more on cooperation and teamwork in pursuit of shared values and goals, developed through self-awareness, emotional understanding and collaborative learning, than it does on competitive cutting edge strategies that promote the aggrandizement of the implementer and the destruction of the opposition, be that construed as the neighbouring producer, neighbouring school or neighbouring classroom.

    HughBusherSchool of Education, University of Leicester

    Biographical Note

    After 18 years as headteacher and college principal in Manchester and Stockport, Harry Tomlinson went to Leeds Metropolitan University where he was initially responsible for the International MBA in Educational Leadership. Later he became responsible for managing the NPQH for the Yorkshire and Humber Region, and project director for the LPSH for one of seven national consortia for the NCSL. He was also responsible for managing the Performance Management Contract for the Yorkshire and Humber Region for the DfES. He has been Treasurer for the Secondary Heads Association and Chair of BELMAS. Edited books for which he has had major responsibility have included Performance-Related Pay in Education, The Search for Standards, Education and Training 14–19, Living Headship – Voices, Values and Vision, and Performance Management in Education. He has more recently been a consultant for the Lithuanian Ministry of Education on contracts for School Reorganisation and Leadership and Management Development. He has an individual National Training Award, and has recently achieved an MBA and qualifications in performance coaching and life coaching.


    There have been a significant number of books published which have focused on professional development for leaders in schools and teachers, particularly in the context of performance management. Though this book takes account of these, the focus is initially very much on personal development through self-understanding and self-management because this has to be the basis for profound professional development. These provide a context for a distinctive understanding of the emotional intelligence which it is now widely recognized is central to leadership effectiveness. The case is made for greater use of 360-degree feedback to provide a fuller self-understanding than more traditional feedback processes. The increased understanding of the significance of functioning of the brain and mind and its application to accelerated learning, increasingly used with children in schools, takes the argument forward. Neurolinguistic programming, a means of personal development widely used in business but less widely in schools is recommended as a means of modelling excellence. Creativity is now understood as essential to school leadership and this chapter presents an alternative exploration of what this means from a wider practical and theoretical context. Personal effectiveness depends on managing your own stress and time but this does take place in a more complex and intense context where careers are changing and require new competencies. These can be provided by training, coaching and mentoring, which are practised in schools, but the suggestion here is that they should be developed much more widely. Teams, groups and working parties are contexts for decision-making but provide opportunities also for insightful learning. The chapter on leadership explores leadership outside the educational context to provide a different challenge for learning. The chapter on performance management explores rewards, both psychological and financial, the latter using evidence from educational contexts in the USA where there is experience to provide high-quality evidence. The ethical and values dimension, with implication for vision and mission, particularly focuses here on the practice associated with gender issues. At the school level the concluding chapters again seek challenging evidence from outside education to clarify practice that can be improved. Good schools are working in these areas but the concluding chapters, like the whole book, are exploring areas outside the traditional for educational leadership books and are offering encouragement to carry out practical activities. Profound educational leadership will consistently develop further skills in improving the school's organizational health, focusing strategy, enhancing quality, achieving knowledge management, and radical change as well as a healthy work-life balance. The complexity of the demands on educational leaders should not be underestimated but should be enjoyed. These are new competencies for school leaders, and working through this book, and carrying out the reflective opportunities presented, will enhance the learning of all educational leaders. I have taken ideas from many sources. If, inadvertently, any of these are not acknowledged, I apologise.

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