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Inaugural Lecture: 'Leadership: its genealogy, configuration and trajectory'

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Susannah Lacon.

Please contact Susannah Lacon: 01223 767626/12 if you would like to attend.

The departure point for this lecture is the resurgence of the leadership field that has occurred since the 1980s. Following a prolonged flirtation in that decade and in 1990s with what has become known as a “heroic paradigm”, increasing numbers of scholars are now searching for post-heroic alternatives to understanding leadership. In light of these developments, two important arguments will be advanced. First, the common assumption that leadership is primarily about the actions of key individuals is not born out by the historical evidence. Indeed, a brief review of the record will indicate the existence of a range of formations of leadership, and show the extent of the continuity between diverse previous and current leadership practices. Second, leadership plays a part in the ordering of human endeavour due to the desire and willingness of people to co-ordinate their intentions and plans for the purposes of decision-making and problem-solving. As this co-ordination imperative is age-old and longstanding, it re-inforces the possibility and likelihood of continuities in the dynamics of practice. A critical appraisal is then undertaken of the most prominent current post-heroic leadership alternative, distributed leadership, with the idea of a configuration of leadership suggested as a more accurate representation of practice and an alternative unit of analysis. The final part of the lecture will concentrate on a possible future direction for the school leadership field. Here, the focus will be on key co-ordination challenges for school leaders and the specific leadership capabilities they are likely to require if they are to lead learning in schools. A number of issues associated with specifying school leadership capabilities will also be identified.

This talk is part of the Faculty of Education Special Events series.

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