Leadership Theories

Leadership theories

Alongside the model of student-centred leadership, the University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership draws from a number of key sources of evidence that underpin our work. These are reflected in all our professional development courses and the contracts we deliver.

School Improvement Science

The school improvement cycle that is advocated by Bryk and colleagues and Timperley and colleagues, is very well aligned to the problem solving methodology advocated by Robinson (1993, 2001). We draw the threads of all of this research together to keep the ‘science of school improvement’ easy to understand though we acknowledge that, at first, it is very difficult to put into practice as old habits of the way we typically work in schools, continue to emerge as our ‘theory-in-use’.

Goal Theory

Another important theoretical base is located in the work of Locke and Latham’s (1990) goal theory. Based on 25 years of research, these researchers developed a theory of goal setting and task performance, building off management theory, human relations theory, and experimental psychology. Understanding this theoretical base helps leaders to set effective goals and targets, and illustrates how leaders must go about this if others in the organisation are to take on the organisational goals as their personal goals.

The Best Evidence of Teacher Learning and Development

We attempt to exemplify what was learnt from the compilation of the ‘Best Evidence’ about what works in professional development (Timperley et al., 2007) not only by teaching its findings directly, but also by applying key principles arising from this research to our courses. Thus we emphasise the impact on all students of effective leadership practices. View our Growing Great Leaders™ research section.

Theories of Action

An important and underpinning theme for the Centre for Educational Leadership is the Open-to-learning™ Leadership approach. The origins of Open-to-learning™ Leadership lie in the work of Chris Argyris (Harvard University) and Donald Schőn, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (Argyris & Schön, 1974) who are the originators of the well- known concepts of theory of action; single and double loop learning; and model 1 (which Viviane Robinson refers to as closed-to-learning) and model 2 (Open-to-learning™). These concepts are foundational to understanding our approach as they help leaders to understand what drives the behaviour of ourselves and others and how to engage effectively with others’ thinking; fundamental skills of a leader. View our Open-to-learning™ Leadership research section.