Conceptualising the 'leadership' in leadership in education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Leadership has taken hold of education, with leadership-speak becoming part and parcel of the education vernacular. But the problem with a vernacular language is that it becomes second-nature, undemanding, and carelessly applied; as words start to be bandied about casually, meanings become arbitrarily determined, and the parameters that separate one concept from another become blurred. Addressing such issues as they apply to the educational leadership field, this chapter sketches out an outline conceptual analysis of leadership, incorporating consideration of understandings and interpretations of leadership that are evident in the field’s vast literature. Consistent with the critical approach to scholarship running through this handbook, the chapter’s overarching purpose is to contribute to the educational leadership field’s epistemic development by challenging mainstream perspectives and accepted norms, before then suggesting a different way, going forward. That ‘different way’ is proposed as a new research agenda that bypasses leadership and focuses, instead, on influence
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Leadership in Education
EditorsPhilip Woods, Amanda Roberts, Meng Tian, Howard Youngs
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781800880429
ISBN (Print)9781800880412
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameElgar Handbooks in Education
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing


  • conceptual clarity
  • definitions of leadership
  • definitional precision
  • construct validity
  • critical leadership studies
  • social influence


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