I’ve been thinking about  leadership in education, not just what kind of leadership is at play in many institutions, but also thrashing out what leadership could mean for me.

This post is based on some reflection I did during my time as a student on an Open University module,  EE811: Educational leadership: agency, professional learning and change. Of course, one of the central questions we were trying to answer as students was, ‘What do I mean by leadership?’.

Is it management, and all of the political red tape and intrigue that goes with that?

Is it thought leadership, where part of the purpose is to influence strategy and policy, and contribute into a body of work, or a sector?

One of the biggest questions for me, as someone fairly low on a management totem pole, is whether it is possible to have a leadership role without actually being in charge.

I found myself drawing distinctions between management and leadership, but it was pointed out to that doing this focuses attention on individuals, or the names and definitions of their roles, rather than focusing on the activities being carried out.

My definition of leadership is probably quite solutions driven – that leadership shows up when there’s a problem to be fixed. Increasingly, I feel that this is too reactive, and my definition of leadership should take on a more positive, proactive, ongoing stance.  Part of this is grasping that leadership does not happen in a vacuum,  and that effective leaders encourage genuine dialogue and partnership, and ownership of solutions by those they lead.