Values and Leadership Conference
for the Study of Leadership and Ethics
~ ~ ~
of the Vice-President, Academic Planning and the Department of Education
Psychology and Leadership Studies, University
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
Authentic Leadership: The Intersection of Purpose, Process
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.
Leadership: The Intersection of Purpose, Process and Context
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
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
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
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
Begley, P. T. (1996). Cognitive perspectives on values in administration:
A quest for coherence and relevance. Educational Administration Quarterly
Begley, P. T. (2006) Self-knowledge, capacity and sensitivity: Prerequisites
to authentic leadership by school principals, Journal of Educational Administration.
Hodgkinson, C. (1991), Educational Leadership: The Moral Art, SUNY Press,
Starratt, R. J. (2004), Ethical Leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco,
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
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.
RETURN TO CSLE MAIN PAGE