Talking leadership – everyone on the same page
Paper written for the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council about L5 Frame for Leadership. This paper accompanies the workshop on using the L5 presented by Kate Castine, APAPDC, and Polly Flanagan, Melbourne Grammar School.
There is increasing hard evidence that successful school leadership plays a highly significant role in improving student learning outcomes. In a review of recently published research entitled ‘How leadership influences student learning’ by the Universities of Minnesota and Toronto, the following claims are justified: Firstly, that ‘leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors
that contribute to what students learn at school’, and secondly, that ‘leadership
effects are usually largest where and when they are needed most’.
This research confirms for us once again the importance of effective school leadership, and reminds us of the glaring inadequacy in Australia of a coherent approach to, and provision for, leadership development. We strongly believe that effective school leadership is essential so that the learning and wellbeing of students may be maximised. We also know that school leadership will be most effectively developed, in organisations and in individuals, through a coherent, grounded and practical program.
The power of school leaders in nurturing quality teachers and establishing effective schools is recognised by parents, students and the teaching profession. For Australian school leaders, the traditional pathway to principalship has been through the apprenticeship of classroom teaching, with leadership experience and engagement in professional development activities supporting the building of leadership and management capacities.
During 2002 to 2004, APAPDC managed a project, funded by the Australian government, called Leaders Lead: Strengthening the Australian school. This
focussed on understanding the work of school leaders and on succession planning. In the past decade, local management, the impact of globalisation and the overall rate of change have resulted in significantly broader work expectations of school leaders beyond management and curriculum areas. Visioning, nurturing the leadership capacity of school community members and building strong relationships are becoming increasingly important aspects of the role. Authenticity in leadership and translating the integrity, core beliefs and natural strengths of leaders into practical strategies for problem solving is highlighted. The importance of working through complex dilemmas and tensions in a positive manner as part of the change is also a key element.
The APAPDC Educational Leadership Model
In 1994, APAPDC undertook research, through an extensive program of consultation, on the competencies needed by effective
principals. In order to
define and assign
and other leaders
need to be able to
examples into a more
practical form. A
framework for this is
the Leaders and their
Framework that was
first developed by the
APAPDC as part of
the Leaders and their
(APAPDC, 1994). It
uses clusters of
principals actually do in their work, reflecting its ‘multi-dimensionality’.
In 2001, work was done to refine the clustering of these competencies, and to bring them together into an integrated framework. These clusters are now called the four domains of school leadership.
The APAPDC L5 Frame for building leadership in schools
In 2003, to complement the work on the domains of leadership in the Educational
Leadership Model, APAPDC set itself the task of developing a tool to support school principals in building leadership capacity in their schools – leadership that could be
exercised in these domains. After exhaustive consultations with school leaders from government, Catholic and independent, secondary and primary sectors, APAPDC is now confident that the L5 Frame has considerable capacity to speak to school leaders about their work in ways that they can readily identify, providing both a lens for viewing their work and the basis for the development of a wide range of strategic tools, including for professional self-reflection, learning, development, and review. The L5 Frame consists of these five propositions.
1. Leadership starts from within
2. Leadership is about influencing others
3. Leadership develops a rich learning environment
4. Leadership builds professionalism and management capability
5. Leadership inspires leadership actions and aspirations in others
This L5 framework makes the work of leadership explicit, potentially building resilience in individuals and in organisations and valuing the personal aspects of leaders and leadership. The framework highlights the centrality of respectful relationships as the foundation of a leader’s influence, emphasising that the work of schools is primarily to ensure the stretching of capacities of all individuals to engage in the process of learning. The five aspects of the framework clarify the critical nature of the development of organisational and professional understandings and capabilities, with sustainability being based on the development of leadership capacity in all the people within the school environment.
The L5 frame has received strong support for its integrated approach to leadership and leadership learning that is responsive to, and can accommodate the present and future professional learning needs of all Australian school leaders. The L5 is now widely recognised as being an extremely significant development because it makes the work of school leadership explicit, describes how leadership is developed, and provides the basis for the development of a range of self-reflection and professional development tools and programs. It also provides all Australian school leaders with a common understanding and language of leadership that resonates with school leaders across all sectors and levels of schooling.
The L5 propositions are also strongly supported by research as follows:
5L1. Leadership starts from within
Effective educational leaders know themselves, act upon a well-formed set of
values, have a high degree of self-efficacy and a deep sense of commitment
and responsibility. They have a clear personal vision for optimising student
learning and wellbeing and the courage and determination to achieve that
At the heart of school leadership is the living, breathing person, the human self and the inner core of values and beliefs. Among the array of strategies for dealing with the complexities of the contemporary educational world, there is emotion, passion and a strong sense of self-identity. Rather than the traditional façade of superficiality and ‘keeping the real self well hidden from prying eyes’ (Duignan, 1997: 23), effective school leaders display a strong sense of caring for others. They listen, accept, reach out and breathe spirit and passion as gifts from the heart (Bolman & Deal, 2001). Walking the talk and choosing courses of action which are congruent with and guided by the core values are all aspects of learning-centred and authentic leadership (Costa & Garmston, 2002). Furthermore, the unchanging and inviolate principles of fairness, equity, justice, integrity, honesty and trust which reflect wisdom and provide leaders with a sense of balance and integrated wholeness have the power to uplift, empower and inspire (Covey, 1999). Real empowerment arises from the alignment of principles and practices, with courage and emotions impacting
positively in following through complex dilemmas, and with integrity used in the process of resolution (Fullan, 1997; Evans, 2001). To make this possible, leaders need to look after themselves, sustaining themselves and balancing their personal and professional demands (DET Victoria, 2004 and Lacey, 2002). 5L2. Leadership is about influencing others
Effective educational leaders understand the nature of power and change and
know that the quality of the relationships they have with students, staff and the
school community are crucial to their ability to influence and achieve desired
Educational leadership is concerned with power and influencing others, nurturing members of the school as a learning community to build a sense of collective vision and action: ‘bothering people enough until they begin to think things through more thoroughly’ (Starratt, 1993: 148). Collaboration and teamwork represent a significant challenge to the traditional teacher world based on the individual classroom, with the leader’s role being to overcome teacher isolation and establish a process of democratic inquiry (Lashway, 1998). The power of collective visioning becomes the vital energy to overcome deeply embedded habits, resolve creative tensions and divergent views and to cultivate new patterns of thinking and alternative directions (Senge, 1990a). Shared ideas rather than positional power become the source of authority (Sergiovanni, 1994a), with leaders working to overturn the fixed mindsets about positional power and status which sometimes become obstacles in the interdependent notions of leadership, positive relationships and influence (Duignan, 2006). Relationships rather than tasks, functions, roles and positions become the focus of power (Wheatley, 2001), with the benefits of sharing information, access and autonomy clearly evident in the creative ideas, craftsmanship and the sense of pride which develops while building achievements as part of a community (Bolman & Deal, 2001). 5L3. Leadership develops a rich learning environment
Effective educational leaders know what supports and enhances teaching and
learning and how collaborative work and professional learning are
fundamental to professional and organisational improvement and growth.
They understand children and young people and their educational and social
needs, are able to work expertly with teachers to ensure quality curriculum
and support services and are vigilant about student wellbeing and success.
Leaders are responsible for creating a rich learning environment which is focused individually and collectively on maintaining an all-pervading, relentless pre-occupation with student learning and student outcomes. This requires leaders to provide structured time for teachers to work together in planning lessons, observing in each other’s classrooms, and adopting new approaches to better meet student needs (McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993; Darling-Hammond, 1996). In the learning community model, the work of leaders becomes focused on supporting teachers as experts in designing, managing and monitoring the instructional process and
nurturing a culture which values the creating and disseminating of professional knowledge. Principals and teachers develop shared and collegial leadership in the school, ‘all playing on the same team’ (Hoerr, 1996: 381) and working as co-learners
involved in the process of ‘questioning, investigating and seeking solutions’ (Kleine-
Kracht, 1993: 393). These inquiry teams involving the staff and principal as instructional leader become focused on local problem-solving and collecting data to inform decision-making about students and their learning (Lambert, 2002; Du Four & Burnette, 2002; King, 2002). Reflective dialogue provokes debate, understanding and appreciation, while also bonding teachers and school leaders behind a set of ideas: ‘Inquiry in other words, helps principals and teachers become a community of learners’ (Sergiovanni, 1994b: 154). 5L4. Leadership builds professionalism and management capacity
Effective educational leaders know that it is their responsibility to promote and
support excellence in teaching and learning and to be an advocate for
professionals in the community to maximise the value of the influential and
important work that schools do.
At the core of the work of teachers and leaders is the notion of being a member of a profession, using ethical principles and specialist knowledge and skills of teaching and learning for the best interests of students and society. Leaders have a key role in ensuring that the pervading school culture reflects professionalism and professional standards. They use wisdom and guidance and alertness to the deeper issues to help staff in developing understanding and action concerning new educational ideas and directions (Deal & Peterson, 1999). Advocating for the rights of children and a fairer society, developing understanding and tolerance and promoting the role of the teacher as an agent of change are aspects (Delors, 1996). A core responsibility of educational leaders is to ensure that teachers are provided with time and regular opportunities for collaboration, reflection on professional beliefs and continuous dialogue to update skills and knowledge regarding effective learning (Leithwood & Duke, 1997). Through ongoing professional learning, the leadership and management capacities and professionalism of every teacher is nurtured including understanding the learning process, making connections, critical and future-oriented thinking, contextual knowledge, political acumen and emotional understanding (Stoll, Fink & Earl, 2002). 5L5. Leadership inspires leadership actions and aspirations in others
Effective educational leaders know that they have a responsibility to promote
and support widespread and sustainable leadership throughout the school,
inspiring others to share in this leadership so that learning and wellbeing are
High performing schools are increasingly identified as those where the work of leadership is a collective responsibility, with the building of leadership capacity being an essential aspect of the leaders’ role (Mulford & Silins, 1998). Therefore, the work of leaders in a learning community is essentially about the redistribution of power
and authority, acknowledging the potential leadership of every person and seeing leadership as a shared endeavour (Harris & Lambert, 2003). This encourages commitment, innovation and cooperation: ‘Instead of evaluating, leaders now coach. Instead of doing, they delegate. Instead of telling, they facilitate. No-one is expected to boss anyone. Everyone is expected to participate’ (Zoglio, 1995: v). Leaders operate as designers, teachers and stewards (Senge, 1990b), with effective leadership being measured through evidence of cultivating others (Fullan, 2001). Coaching and mentoring are effective strategies used in building the capacities of staff and new leaders (Black, 2001; Coalition of Essential Schools; Evans & Mohr, 1999), with support and guidance building confidence and skills, and with regular follow-up occurring as behaviours change and underlying thinking and beliefs are challenged (Malone, 2001).
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