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Authentic Leadership: The Intersection of Purpose, Process and Context

Laurel Point Inn, Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA

Sunday, Sept. 25 – Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011 , 2011

     
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Welcome to the

Sixteenth Annual
Values and Leadership Conference

Sponsored by:

UCEA Centre for the Study of Leadership and Ethics

~ ~ ~

With Support from:

 Office of the Vice-President, Academic Planning and the Department of Education Psychology and Leadership Studies, University of Victoria
Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University
The Penn State Rock Ethics Institute
British Columbia Ministry of Education
Center for Education, Law and Society, Simon Fraser University
Faculty of Human, Social and Educational Development, Thompson Rivers University

Conference Theme:

Authentic Leadership: The Intersection of Purpose, Process and Context

Join us in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for the Sixteenth Annual Values and Leadership Conference. The theme of this year's conference, Authentic Leadership: The Intersection of Purpose, Process and Context, will provide a context for the exploration of values and ethics in educational leadership. The conference features a number of keynote speakers, plenary sessions, individual paper sessions and receptions. The timing of the conference, which begins on a Sunday evening and ends on Tuesday afternoon, allows for maximum flexibility.

 

Authentic Leadership: The Intersection of Purpose, Process and Context

The various forms of authentic educational leadership have been a frequent focus of discussion at our annual meetings. In addressing this theme our emphasis has tended to be on the qualities of the authentic leader as a moral individual or the virtues associated with the authentic leader. For example, Begley (2006) describes authentic leadership as a function of three components – self-knowledge, sensitivity to the perspectives of others, and particular skill and knowledge areas associated with effective leadership. Alternately, Starratt (2004) speaks of three foundational virtues –responsibility, authenticity and presence. These are powerful heuristics that have generated a considerable amount of dialogue and research in recent years.

The need for genuinely authentic leadership for improving our schools, colleges and universities has not diminished. However for this year’s conference we would like to shift the focus from the nature of the authentic leader to an examination of the operational dimensions of authentic leadership –what it is authentic leaders do and how they do it. In other words a focus on leadership practices.

Particular categories of leadership practices seem critical to authentic leadership. For example, as part of a keynote presentation on sustainable leadership delivered at the 2010 conference held in Umeå, Begley proposed a relationship between three key components of educational leadership. He suggested that Authentic Leadership, in the form of leadership values, links with Moral Literacy as a specific process aimed at achieving Sustainability of Learning, a context-specific objective. Distilled even further, this proposition can be seen to highlight the intersection of purpose, process and context as authentic leadership.

Accordingly, we are identifying these three sub-themes –purpose, process and context, as a structure for our continuing discussion of authentic leadership, ethics and moral literacy. We invite the submission of titles and abstracts for papers that align with these themes.


More on the Sub-themes
:

Purpose. Three broad and relatively transcending purposes have been traditionally associated with education. Although various terms may be used to describe these purposes, they generally focus on three areas –aesthetic purposes, economic purposes and ideological purposes (Hodgkinson 1991). The basic premise is that effective as well as moral school leaders need to keep the fundamental purposes of education at the forefront of their administrative practices. Whether articulated as leadership for moral literacy, ethical leadership practices, or leadership with moral purpose, the common foundation is purpose-driven educational leadership. However, even with these fundamental purposes of education in mind, school leaders are subject to many internal and external influences that can confound their efforts to remain focussed on appropriate educational objectives.

The external influences on leadership and education in general can be thought of as coming from multiple social sources. Some of these influences can take on the status of values when they are perceived as conceptions of the desirable with motivating force. Unfortunately, our personal values as well of those of the profession, organization, community and society are not necessarily consistent or compatible with each other. As a result these influences and values, derived from the various arenas of our environment, can generate inconsistencies and conflicts. These are the interactive environments within which valuation processes and administration occur. They are also the source of personal, professional and social values, as well as the source of many of the conflicts people encounter in life.

Process. There are essentially three ways in which valuation processes relate to authentic leadership. The first is as an influence on the cognitive processes of individuals and groups of individuals. Understanding how values reflect underlying human motivations and shape subsequent attitudes, speech and actions is essential knowledge for any person in a leadership role. Leaders should know their own values and ethical predispositions, as well as be sensitive to the value orientations of others.
The second way in which valuation processes relate to leadership practices is as a guide to action, particularly as supports to resolving ethical dilemmas. Ethics are highly relevant to school leadership as rubrics, benchmarks, socially justified standards of practice, and templates for moral action.

The third way in which valuation processes relate to leadership is as a strategic tool that leaders can employ to build consensus among the members of a group towards the achievement of shared organizational objectives. In this sense leaders literally use ethics as a leadership tool in support of actions taken. Authentic leadership is therefore grounded in the understanding or interpretation of observed or experienced valuation processes, as well as, in ethical decision-making processes.

Context. Distinctive, unique, or minority-based social conditions may be obscured, veiled, or blurred by the perspectives and language adopted to describe social processes. In many respects this is a natural outcome and limitation of language as a means of assigning meaning to concepts and events, or the bounded rationality that occurs when models and frameworks are applied to complex social situations. This is also an outcome of general human inclinations to generalize the specifics of one context to the point that they become automated as a cognitive schema or a set of abstract principles (Begley, 1996).

Similarly, a number of scholars, notably Allan Walker and Clive Dimmock, believe the field of educational administration has developed along ethnocentric lines, dominated by Western perspectives emanating mostly from the United States and United Kingdom (Walker & Dimmock, 1999; Walker, 2003). The consequences are a risk that the generalized experiences of one country may be inappropriately assumed to be instructive to practices in radically different contexts. As societies become more globalized, and as the exchange of information among international scholars becomes more widespread, the implications become more urgent. Many administrators are discovering that some of their society’s most cherished ethical foundations sometimes must be carefully re-examined in terms of how they are interpreted and their appropriateness to social circumstances.

As our communities and societies become more diversified, school administrators must become more sophisticated in their leadership, and more sensitive to the value orientations of others. Researchers, for their part, must move beyond the traditional orientation towards generalization and description to also consider the deeper matters of intent and motivational base. Once again, what emerges as a critical implication is the need for dialogue and negotiation of meaning among stakeholders in professional educational settings.

References
Begley, P. T. (1996). Cognitive perspectives on values in administration: A quest for coherence and relevance. Educational Administration Quarterly 32, 403-426.

Begley, P. T. (2006) Self-knowledge, capacity and sensitivity: Prerequisites to authentic leadership by school principals, Journal of Educational Administration. 44(6), 570-589

Hodgkinson, C. (1991), Educational Leadership: The Moral Art, SUNY Press, Albany, NY.

Starratt, R. J. (2004), Ethical Leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Walker, A. (2003). Developing cross-cultural perspectives on education and community.  In Begley, P. T.& Johansson, O. (eds.) The ethical dimensions of school leadership.  pp. 145-160. Correct: Lower Academic Press.

Walker, A. & Dimmock, C. (1999). A cross-cultural approach to the study of educational      leadership: An emerging framework. Journal of School Leadership 9, 321-34.

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